Gov. Pillen highlighted his goals in first State of the State address

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:21 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Governor Pillen highlighted several of his goals in the biennium $5.5 billion budget address today. He says his overall goal is to shrink the size of state government.

He said the governor’s office will quote “not receive a penny more” than the previous year and proposed to cap the spending growth of the state government at 1.3 percent. Pillen says his administration plans to redirect the money potentially saved from that to invest in the people of Nebraska.

A large portion of Governor Pillen’s budget for the next two years focuses on creating tax relief. He proposes he can do this by creating state-funded school aid to take the pressure off property taxpayers. He says his administration would eventually eliminate community college taxing authority with the state picking up the funding.

“Our property taxes, we all agree they are so far out of whack. Think of this, you don’t even need to own property to be affected by our property taxes. We must fill this burden, we have to do it now,” Pillen said.

Pillen is also proposing a $1.5 billion tax cut for individuals, families, businesses and social security recipients. In terms of education, he proposed a $1 billion education fund that would create 15 hundred dollars for every public school student in Nebraska. The administration also proposed $39.4 million in scholarships for Nebraskan students to obtain higher education as well as investing $10 million in recruitment and retention grants aimed to help teachers, nurses veterinarians and other healthcare professionals.

“I want to inspire and challenge Nebraska stakeholders and business leaders to pick up the ball and do business differently in Nebraska. We all need to reach out to K-12 and build relationships with our kids, get them to work at a young age and give them hope,” Pillen said.

Other highlights of Pillen’s budget include investments in law enforcement, like a 22 percent increase in wages for state troopers, and infrastructure- including $100 million to improve roads and create more broadband. Another big goal: complete the Perkins Canal, a $574 million project.

“Water is vital to Nebraska. The drought makes it even more urgent. We must build the Perkins County Canal,” he said.

Another priority for the Pillen team is funneling $95.9 million to finalize funding for replacing the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Pillen touts it will have 1,500 beds, create more space for programming and meet the security needs for the future.

There has been plenty of reaction to Pillen’s proposed budget. State Senator Danielle Conrad complimented his investment in education, but she has concerns when it comes to the investment in a future state penitentiary.

The Opensky Policy Institute expressed concerns in a statement about constraints Pillen’s budget places on funding for state agencies, which they say play a key role in supporting a strong state economy. A joint statement from Nebraska Healthcare and Human Service providers says Pillen’s budget is ignoring the crisis going on in the state’s health sector.

The Nebraska Democratic Party Chair, Jane Kleeb, also responded to Pillen’s address.