NE Chamber, Senators Unveil “Good Life Game Changer” Priorities

LINCOLN, NE (January 6, 2022) – The Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce and a group of state senators today outlined 2022 legislative measures they say will make “game-changing progress in developing and attracting talent, bolstering infrastructure, driving innovation and enhancing quality of life for all Nebraskans through 2050.”

“Ask any sector, any community, what is the #1 challenge holding you back? It’s people,” said Bryan Slone, NE Chamber president. “We need everyone we have and more, and we need them right now.”

This year, according to Slone, state leaders face unprecedented opportunities to leverage $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, healthy state revenues and strong public-private partnerships to accelerate the state’s economic recovery through 2026.

“Our big ideas for a stronger, more vibrant Nebraska can happen. The time is now,” Slone added. “Bold moves in 2022 will break the status quo, boost quality of life and grow the economy at a size and scale not seen in a century.”

The NE Chamber, with local chambers of commerce (Lincoln, Omaha, and the NE Chambers Association), as well as the Nebraska Economic Developers Association, are asking state leaders to prioritize programs that:

  1. Solve workforce
  2. Redefine infrastructure
  3. Drive innovation
  4. Empower communities
  5. Modernize Nebraska’s tax system

Proposals, developed in concert with several state senators, focus on one-time investments in existing programs that already are operating in communities of all sizes across the state. They also align with initiatives in the Blueprint Nebraska strategic economic development plan.

 Solve Workforce

Senator Mike Flood of Norfolk will introduce a $120 million workforce proposal to boost the talent pipeline and retain and attract young people in Nebraska, including:

  • five times more funding ($50 million) for thousands of new high school and student internships;
  • 60% more funding ($20 million) in apprenticeships and customized job training; and
  • Five times more funding ($50 million) into Nebraska’s national talent recruitment campaign, The Good Life is Calling.

Redefine Infrastructure

Senator John Arch of Papillion will introduce a $195 million package to ramp up both public and private investment in infrastructure to bolster domestic supply chains and spur economic growth, including:

  • 50% to 60% more funding ($30 million) to three infrastructure and industrial site development programs used heavily by communities statewide;
  • Fully funding the ImagiNE Nebraska Revolving Loan program with an added $15 million to encourage private investment in job training, talent recruitment, childcare or transportation; and
  • One-time investments in mega-site development (500 -1000+ acres) to compete for the largest supply-chain projects shopping for a home now.

Drive Innovation

Senator Mark Kolterman of Seward introduced a $100 million proposal to invigorate the state’s transformation to tech-enabled commerce through one-time research and development, modernization and technology grants to businesses.

Senator Anna Wishart of Lincoln will sponsor legislation to infuse an additional $20 million into Nebraska’s Business Innovation Act to boost prototyping, product development and commercialization, and scaling of startup sectors.

Empower Communities

Chambers of commerce and economic developers across the state have joined in coalition with other advocates to support policies that ramp up every community’s ability to attract new families, including:

  • Existing housing development grant programs (Rural Workforce, Middle Workforce, Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits);
  • Community Vitality Grants, such as the Civic and Community Center Financing Fund;
  • Childcare infrastructure and workforce, such as WAGE$, T.E.A.C.H., public-private partnerships, and addressing the benefits cliff;
  • Large-scale recreational investments, such as those being investigated by the Legislature’s STARWARS Committee;
  • Statewide electric vehicle charging infrastructure; and
  • Statewide broadband and high-speed internet access.

Modernize our Tax System

Blueprint Nebraska proposed a framework for modernizing Nebraska’s tax code to better match our 21st Century economy, lower tax burden for all Nebraskans and sustain revenues necessary to meet commitments to public services and education. The NE Chamber supports this framework in concept.

“The combination of fiscal restraint, keeping Nebraska’s economy open as much as possible during the pandemic, and increasing demand for Nebraska goods and services has resulted in hundreds of millions in excess tax revenue and a healthy cash reserve – opening a rare opportunity to modernize,” Slone said.

Ricketts, Revenue Committee Set Tax Relief As Legislative Priority