Governor Ricketts focuses on top priorities ahead of term limit

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Around this time next year, Nebraska will have a new governor, with Gov. Pete Ricketts reaching his term limit. But Ricketts said right now his focus isn’t on the future, but on the legislature.

The legislature wasted no time in bringing in bills addressing Governor Ricketts’ top priorities; a new prison in Nebraska, land tax relief, protection of Nebraska’s water sources, and the spending of a $ 1 billion surplus in America Rescue Plan Act money.

The second session of the 107th Parliament is underway, this is Gov. Pete Ricketts’ last chance to veto or sign a law. He has stated on 10/11 NOW that he has four main goals that he wants to achieve before the session adjourns.

First, pass a law authorizing the construction of a new prison to replace the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

“It’s over 150 years,” Governor Ricketts said. “We have seen what happens when pipes break, it takes three days to give water to inmates. By replacing and modernizing the facility, we can have better security for inmates, better programming so they can be better prepared, and better security for correctional workers.

The legislature is also working with the Criminal Justice Institute on ways to reduce the prison population.

Governor Ricketts’ second priority is not new. It is a relief from the property tax. Ricketts said a bill passed last year allows the state to provide $ 1.9 billion in property tax relief over the next two years.

“When you file your tax return this year, you’ll get a 25% credit for your school taxes in the form of a refundable tax credit,” Governor Ricketts said. “Combine that with the credit relief fund and the homestead exemption, that’s how you get $ 1.9 billion.”

But there is more work to be done. Last year, LB408, a bill controlling the rate at which property taxes could rise, failed by four votes.

“We have to come back and get that and make sure the dollars are really going in the pockets and not in the spending of local governments,” Governor Ricketts said.

Third, he wants to preserve Nebraska’s natural water resources, which President Mike Hilgers is also undertaking.

“Besides our people, water is our most precious resource,” Governor Ricketts said.

Fourth, the $ 1 billion surplus in ARPA pandemic relief funding that the state must spend to continue the recovery from the pandemic.

“We need to spend responsibly and invest in infrastructure and one-off projects, without creating ongoing spending liabilities for the state,” Governor Ricketts said.

Gov. Ricketts said he was confident the legislature would be able to bridge the differences and do that job during his last session as governor.

11/10 NOW also asked the Governor if he knew what the next step was for him. He has said so far that he will focus on his role as governor and worry about what will happen next year.

Looking at the budget, Governor Ricketts is expected to reveal another frugal spending plan this year. But now he has $ 1 billion more from the federal government to spend.

Gov. Ricketts has said he’s okay with using this federal pandemic money for one-time spending such as water projects and infrastructure, but said he’s not supporting a big increase in spending on taxes from the federal government. States.

The current two-year state budget is expected to grow by about 1.8 percent on average per year, to $ 9.78 billion by June 2023. Ricketts maintains he will oppose major spending increases.

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