A 60 day history | Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

A 60 day history

By Governor Pete Ricketts

April 26, 2022

Governor’s Official Photo here.

The 2022 legislative session will go down in history as one of the best in unicameral Nebraska. In just 60 days, the legislature passed record tax relief, made critical improvements to public safety, and invested in generational water resource projects. As if that weren’t enough, the senators also allocated $1.04 billion in US federal Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

Here are some of the highlights of this historic session.

Tax relief

The crowning glory was tax relief. As we approached this session, we had provided $4 billion in direct property tax relief over the past eight years. The tax package I enacted, LB 873, provides an additional $3.4 billion in tax relief to Nebraskanians through the 2027 tax year. When fully implemented, LB 873 will provide 12 times the tax relief from any tax relief bill passed in any previous administration.

LB 873 is significant for Nebraska. Our seniors will see an accelerated removal of state taxation of Social Security income, which will now be fully exempt in the 2025 tax year. This keeps more money in the pockets of our seniors face rising inflation and encourages them to stay in Nebraska to see their grandchildren grow up.

Nebraskanians can now be confident that property tax relief will continue. BA 873 makes permanent the property tax relief enacted in 2020. This year, taxpayers received a 25.3% rebate from the state on what they paid to their local schools in property taxes. Additionally, the tax package creates a new rebate on property taxes paid to community colleges. The refund will be $50 million for the 2022 tax year and will increase to $195 million by the 2026 tax year.

Our hard-working middle-class families will get much-needed tax relief through a reduction in their income tax rates. We will reduce the tax rate from 6.84% to 5.84% by the 2027 tax year. The legislation ensures that our businesses will also have a tax rate of 5.84% by the same year. These changes will allow Nebraska to be more competitive with neighboring states.

public safety

This session, senators embraced Nebraskas’ strong support for law enforcement and made strategic improvements to public safety.

The Legislature followed my recommendation to allocate $47.7 million to add capacity to the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center on Grand Island. This investment will allow our new recruits to receive unparalleled training. Senators also approved my $16.9 million proposal to upgrade and expand our State Patrol Crime Lab. This will ensure the State Patrol’s ability to effectively process evidence and bring justice to victims of crime.

In addition, we have enacted laws to strengthen our law enforcement personnel. We’ve established reciprocity for out-of-state law enforcement officers to help them find jobs faster after moving to Nebraska. We’ve also helped law enforcement agencies recruit and retain officers by paying incentives for years of service. We provided tax relief on health care premiums to retired law enforcement officers age 60 and older with more than 20 years of service. And the state will provide a 100% tuition waiver for law enforcement who study in the university system, state colleges, or community colleges.

At a time when others are defunding the police, Nebraska is demonstrating its commitment to the women and men who don blue to protect our communities.

Water resources

The unicameral has made additional investments for future generations of Nebraskas. This spring, I signed historic legislation to protect and develop our water resources.

We enacted LB 1015 to authorize construction of the Perkins County Canal, which will protect our water flows from the South Platte River. Nebraskans currently depend on this water for their drinking water supply, agricultural irrigation, power generation, and the health of our natural environment. Thanks to LB 1015, we will be able to move this vital project forward immediately.

The Legislature also gave the green light to other water infrastructure projects through LB 1023. Senators approved four major projects proposed by the STAR WARS committee: construction of a new marina at Lake McConaughy; a major marina expansion at Lewis and Clark Lake; construction of an event center and lodge at Niobrara State Park; and creation of a 3,600-acre reservoir between Lincoln and Omaha. These investments will expand Nebraska’s water resources to generate additional recreational and tourism opportunities.

Pandemic recovery

Senators also passed a $1.04 billion ARPA budget to deal with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Among other provisions: it invests $60 million to increase the capacity of our community colleges; it allocates over $120 million for affordable housing; it is spending $100 million on shovel-ready projects delayed by the pandemic; boosting health care by investing in behavioral health facilities and a rural health complex in Kearney; and it creates subsidies to increase meat processing capacity for the benefit of our agricultural producers and consumers.

Lawmakers also passed major legislation to revitalize urban areas affected by the coronavirus. LB 1024 creates economic stimulus grants to support job training, small business growth, and land development in North Omaha, South Omaha, and other eligible census tracts statewide.

In addition to these ARPA investments, the senators prioritized growth in rural Nebraska by extending and expanding the Nebraska Rural Development Act. They also created tax credits to encourage fuel retailers to sell E15 and higher ethanol blends.

In my end-of-session address to the Legislative Assembly, I summed up all of these accomplishments in one word: Wow! Any one of them would have been considered historic, but the four past efforts in a short 60-day session are truly remarkable.

If you have questions about the legislation passed in the 2022 session, please email [email protected] or call 402-471-2244.

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