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Gov. Ricketts outlines his 2021 priorities including property tax reform

Local government spending, new prison and rural broadband on the agenda
Posted at 6:09 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 19:10:31-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Governor Pete Ricketts has a number of priorities for this session, but property tax reform appears to be, yet again, at the top of his list.

He wants the legislature to pass a bill that limits how much local governments, like school boards and county boards can raise their budgets.

“New local spending constraints are critical in making sure the relief we provide, goes into peoples pockets,” said Ricketts.

The bill the governor is supporting essentially allows local government to raise their budget three percent annually, with some exceptions.

Ricketts told the legislature if they don’t pass the bill, the people will vote to take away the property taxing authority of local governments, which they all currently have.

“The limits we are proposing here are reasonable and will help ensure that local control in the institutions we cherish endures for years to come,” said Ricketts.

Freshman Senator Jen Day has a number of growing school districts that she represents.

She’s not a fan of limiting those.

“I know in particular the school districts that I have in my district do a wonderful job of budgeting and there’s really not a whole lot for them to cut out,” said Day.

The state also has a prison overcrowding crisis.

Ricketts again pushed his plans for a $230 million prison, saying the situation is getting worse and the Nebraska state penitentiary is decaying.

“More must be done to modernize and rightsize our prisons,” Day said.

Day needs to hear more, and prefers sentencing reform, but is open to a new prison.

“I think we’re going to have some very hard decisions to make. I think we can’t continue to put it off a whole lot longer,” she said.

Day, who owns a gym in Omaha, has her own priorities including a bill that gives tax credits to businesses that help pay their employees student loan bills.

“It also helps alleviate the student debt that some of us have and it hopefully will help keep some of those educated workers here, living in the state,” said Day.

Ricketts also mentioned increasing rural broadband across the state and giving more tax breaks to veterans.

You can read a full transcript or watch the governor's speech at the following link: