LINCOLN, NE (STL.News) Governor Pete Ricketts highlighted the historic results of the First Session of the 107th Legislature in his annual “Sine Die” address to the Unicameral on the final day of its 2021 regular session. The budget passed by Senators provides combined tax relief of over $1.8 billion to Nebraskans over the next two years. That’s the greatest amount of tax relief any Legislature has delivered in at least a quarter-century—and likely the largest amount in the history of the State of Nebraska. This represents an average of 18.5% of the State’s budget over the next two years.
During the address, the Governor thanked Senators for making historic progress on the key priorities he set in January, including property tax relief, veterans tax relief, and broadband infrastructure. He also thanked Legislators for their work to assist state agencies as they responded to the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Ricketts praised the Unicameral for controlling spending in the State’s next two-year budget. Additionally, he applauded Senators for taking action to pass legislation based on lessons learned from the pandemic, such as providing expedited reciprocity for many licensed healthcare professions.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
- Controlling Spending: Limits budget growth to 2.4% annually in the State’s next two-year budget. The four biennial budgets the Governor has worked on with the Legislature have an average annual growth rate of less than 2.5%.
- Property Tax Relief: Delivers an estimated $1.7 billion in property tax relief over the biennium. This includes over $433 million each year through the new refundable income tax credit, which was passed into law in 2020.
- Veterans Tax Relief: Provides new tax relief to give Nebraska’s veterans a 100 percent exemption for taxes paid on military retirement benefits.
- Broadband Expansion: Invests $20 million in matching grants annually to expand access to high-speed broadband to 30,000 Nebraska households.
- Social Security Tax Relief: Cuts taxes on Social Security income. The tax cut will be phased in starting in the 2021 tax year, and fifty percent of Social Security income will be exempt from state income taxes by tax year 2025.
- Truth in Taxation: Sets a new requirement for local governments to notify taxpayers whenever their property tax askings are scheduled to increase more than 2%.
- Public Safety: Initiates the process of replacing the aging Nebraska State Penitentiary with a modern correctional facility.
- Second Amendment Protections: Strengthens Second Amendment rights by clarifying firearm transportation law and by providing gun owners with better notification and information regarding permit renewals.
- Military Spouse Workforce: Cuts red tape to make it quicker and easier for military spouses licensed in another state to obtain a teaching permit after moving to Nebraska.
- Healthcare Workforce: Makes it easier for hospitals and care facilities to meet their workforce needs by providing expedited reciprocity for many licensed healthcare professions.
- K-12 Education: Fully funds the state school aid formula, providing over $1 billion annually in aid to K-12 public schools.
- Career Scholarships: Creates new scholarships for private institutions of higher education and continues funding scholarships for Community Colleges, State Colleges, and the University of Nebraska to connect students to career pathways with great-paying jobs.
- Private School Support: Triples the size of the textbook loan program, providing $3 million annually to support textbooks for private schools.
- Pro-Life: Passes a new tax credit for families who have a stillborn baby to help offset medical bills, burial expenses, and costs of preparing for the baby’s arrival.
- Permanent Carryout Alcohol: Ensures that carryout alcohol sales will continue after the coronavirus pandemic ends.