LINCOLN–(KFOR Jan. 18)–Governor Jim Pillen on Thursday delivered his State of the State Address and further emphasized cutting property taxes as a priority for Nebraska lawmakers to accomplish this session.
Pillen has said lawmakers must lower the state’s overall tax burden, widen the tax base, and end special interest tax breaks. He’s wanting to cut the property tax bill by 40%.
“This crisis is not new,” Pillen told lawmakers. “It has been hurting Nebraska farmers, ranchers, homeowners and businesses for most of our lifetimes.”
Elkhorn Senator Lou Ann Linehan has proposed a state sale tax increase of up to 1-cent, raising the state sales tax rate — which excludes local sales taxes charged by cities — from 5.5 cents to 6.5 cents.
“This measure is critical, as only a hard cap will force local government to finally curb spending,” Pillen added.
Pillen also pointed out during his address that Gordon Sen. Tom Brewer has introduced a bill to eliminate 20% of Nebraska’s boards and commissions. The governor is urging lawmakers “to shrink unnecessary government.”
“For years, we have used income tax abatement as our main tool to incentivize companies to come to Nebraska. This has yielded many success stories and thousands of good, well-paying careers for hard-working Nebraskans,” Pillen said. “But we must make sure we are not giving our topsoil away by giving incentives to foreign companies who view Nebraska merely as a conduit for cheap electricity, free water and cheap labor.”
Another issue Pillen addressed how supporting female athletes takes more than buying tickets and watching games. He said it means protecting them in the arena and the locker room.
“Simply put, I don’t want my granddaughter to bear the fundamental unfairness of competing against a boy,” Pillen mentioned. “And I certainly don’t want her to suffer the indignity of showering next to a boy. And that goes both ways—our boys shouldn’t be sharing showers with girls.”
Omaha Senator Senator Kathleen Kauth’s Sports and Spaces Act, also known as LB 575 (a carryover bill from 2023) would protect women athletes.
The governor also touched on how state government must do more to align Nebraska’s colleges and universities to meet future workforce needs.
“I look forward to partnering with our University of Nebraska, State College system, and Community College System to launch the One Nebraska initiative, which will eliminate needless duplication and inefficient competition between state-supported schools,” Pillen added.
Another item Pillen outlined as another major piece of legislation deals with Nebraska’s laws on land ownership, which would prohibit purchases by adversaries. It would tighten up those restrictions and provide a directive for enforcement. It rescinds exemptions for foreign ownership, such as foreign oil, gas and mineral development in the state.
“The world is not the same place as it was in the 1950s, when these laws were last reviewed,” Pillen said. “It is imperative to keep enemies of our country from owning land in our state, especially near sensitive military installations.”
The bill would prohibit countries like China, North Korea, and Iran from bidding on any public contract that deals with security related items like IT, communication networks, and infrastructure.