Letter from Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman
Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
I want to share with you details of the budget recommendations for FY 2012 and 13. I recently proposed a balanced budget without raising taxes. Additionally, I’ve proposed several job and education-related investments aimed at enhancing Nebraska’s economic momentum.
My first proposal is a Talent & Innovation Initiative based on recommendations provided in a 2010 comprehensive review of Nebraska’s economic climate by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice and the findings of a Legislative Task Force.
The initiative involves creating a statewide internship program to increase the number of college and university students interning with Nebraska businesses; providing competitive grants to expand small business and entrepreneur outreach; creating a site and building development fund that combined with community funding would increase the number of industrial and commercial sites available for new business projects; and incenting investment in small, Nebraska based startup companies through an Angel Investment Tax Credit Program.
Economic success and education success are linked together. We need both. We are focused on creating higher paying jobs and developing a more highly educated workforce. We want our graduates and young professionals to be prepared for high-quality, high-skill jobs with dynamic companies doing business right here in Nebraska.
I am proposing a one-time investment of $25 million to accelerate the development of the University of Nebraska’s Innovation Campus in Lincoln. With University of Nebraska’s pending move to the Big Ten, university leaders have an outstanding opportunity to significantly increase student enrollment, expand the university’s research efforts, and develop partnerships that will increase job opportunities for Nebraskans. This investment is needed now, not five years from now.
I’ve proposed directing $8.5 million from lottery funds to help with a virtual high school being developed by the Nebraska Department of Education and the University. Offering a rigorous online curriculum will provide flexibility and allow students to complete course work on their timetable while expanding the traditional school day and school year.
My budget prioritizes education with funding for state aid to education at $810 million in FY12, an additional $50 million in FY13 totaling $860 million for state aid to education, and no reduction in higher education funding for the University of Nebraska, state colleges and community colleges.
Putting an emphasis on education and economic growth will require reducing funding for many state agencies and eliminating several programs. This is a year for setting priorities and making difficult decisions about the most important responsibilities of state government. I’ve listened to our citizens and their priorities are creating jobs, improving the economy and strengthening education.
My focus is on making Nebraska the ideal place to create jobs and grow a business, the best place to obtain an education, and the perfect place to raise a family.
Over the next four years I hope to address a number of important issues that are essential in fulfilling our vision for a strong future. We need to continue to lower taxes, reform the state income tax system, rebuild our Cash Reserve, achieve structural balance in the state budget, resolve our roads infrastructure funding challenges, improve Nebraska’s child welfare system, and increase educational accountability.
It is a challenging list. This is an opportunity to capitalize on our positive momentum and set the stage for a prosperous decade of new growth across Nebraska.
We have an extraordinary opportunity to reshape the economic, education and family landscape of our state. I have high expectations for our state and I am committed to tackling these challenges.