Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts spoke to the legislature and public as he made his state of the State address on Tuesday morning.
In the speech, Ricketts called on lawmakers to approve a new property tax package and increase funding for Nebraska's prison system. The call comes as the state stares down a deadline to reduce overcrowding in the state's prisons. The governor's proposed budget includes an $49 million to build two new high-security units, adding nearly 400 additional beds, at the Lincoln Correctional Center and over $6 million to increase staffing and rehabilitation programs for inmates.
Ricketts' address focused heavily on taxes, and also highlighted his new college scholarship initiative and a proposed tax exemption for military retirees. The Governor also announced that he would be seeking a constitutional amendment to prevent local property tax revenues from growing by more than 3% annually. That is a measure lawmakers would have to put on the 2020 ballot for voters to approve. Ricketts stating:
"I have three property tax relief proposals.
First, my budget provides $51 million in new, direct property tax relief through the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund each year. This is a 23 percent increase in property tax relief from this fund to all Nebraska property owners.
Second, Senator Lindstrom and I are recommending that we establish a statutory floor of $275 million for the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund. This will give taxpayers more certainty about future relief.
Third, Senator Linehan and I are proposing to establish a three percent cap on property taxes levied by local governments. Over the past decade, local property taxes have risen over 57 percent. To deliver long-term, structural relief, it is important that we limit the growth of property taxes. Our proposal comes in the form of a constitutional amendment, which must be approved by the people after receiving your consideration."
You can read the Governor's full speech here.