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Ricketts signs major property tax relief, economic development legislation

Nebraska City News-Press

Governor Pete Ricketts hosted a ceremonial bill signing for LB 1107 on the north steps of the State Capitol on Aug. 20.  LB 1107 delivers property tax relief to Nebraskans through refundable income tax credits.  The Governor was joined at the ceremony by State Senators and leaders from Nebraska agriculture, business, and education. 

“LB 1107 is a giant step forward in cutting property taxes on our hardworking families,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “I commend the Legislature for delivering on the people’s top priority this session.  I also thank the farmers, ranchers, and homeowners who persisted in voicing the urgent need for action on property taxes.  LB 1107 delivers real, significant property tax relief and will help grow Nebraska for years to come.”

Property tax relief has been Governor Ricketts’ number one priority since taking office in 2015.  In previous years, he worked with the Legislature to nearly double the property tax credit relief fund from $140 million to $275 million.  LB 1107 protects the property tax credit relief fund in its entirety.  It also adds an additional $375 million, phased in over the next few years, to provide income tax credits.  These tax credits will offset the amount of property taxes Nebraskans pay to fund their local school districts.  With the passage of LB 1107, direct property tax relief from the state to property taxpayers will increase to $650 million annually, a four-fold increase during Governor Ricketts’ time in office.

LB 1107 also reforms and renews Nebraska’s business tax incentives.  Unlike other state incentive programs, Nebraska’s tax incentives are performance-based.  Tax benefits aren’t given in the hopes of future investment.  They’re only earned by businesses that have already created verifiable jobs in the Cornhusker State.  This feature ensures that incentives reward actual job creation in Nebraska.  The incentives are part of the reason why Nebraska has ranked among the top three states in the nation for most new economic development projects per capita for five consecutive years. 

Additionally, LB 1107 supports Nebraska’s bid for a major federal investment in the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).  The proposed investment at UNMC would support an academic medical facility to help the United States address future pandemics and other disasters.  The project would enhance UNMC’s position as a national leader in medical research and hazard response, and it has the potential to create 8,700 great-paying jobs.

After the Legislature reconvened in late July, following a multi-month recess due to the pandemic, State Senators successfully reached agreement on LB 1107.  The Unicameral passed LB 1107 on August 13, 2020 by an overwhelming majority. 

“I am proud of LB 1107 and the remarkable way that the entire legislature—all 49 of us, not merely some ‘Super Seven’—came together as we worked to craft legislation, get approval to move it from start to finish, and finally deliver tax relief to Nebraskans,” said Jim Scheer, Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature.

Senator Lou Ann Linehan, Chair of the Legislature’s Revenue Committee, played a central role in bringing Senators together in support of LB 1107. 

“In these uncertain times, we must have a tax policy that encourages economic growth across Nebraska and reduces the property tax burden on Nebraska's retirees, young families, agriculture producers, and small businesses.  LB 1107 does both,” Senator Linehan said.

“More important than any individual piece of this package is the fact that a group of individual Senators from across our entire state with different backgrounds, thoughts, and political philosophies were able to come together and find enough common ground to move forward a bill that serves our entire state,” said Senator Mark Kolterman of Seward.  “I'm proud to have been a part of it.”

AGRICULTURAL, BUSINESS, AND  EDUCATIONAL GROUPS PRAISE LB 1107

“We greatly appreciate the work of the Legislature in passing LB 1107 and our thanks extends to Governor Ricketts for signing this critical piece of legislation.  LB 1107 takes a major step forward to provide meaningful and much-needed property tax relief for Nebraskans, who can expect to see a 15 percent reduction in the property taxes paid to schools when provisions are fully implemented.  We look forward to continuing to work with our elected leaders to build on this important win for Nebraska taxpayers.”

— Steve Nelson, President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau

"The NExT project is one of the most exciting and ambitious economic development proposals in Nebraska’s history, made possible by UNMC’s world-class expertise and the support of elected, business and philanthropic leaders across the state.  I am particularly grateful to Governor Ricketts and Senator Kolterman for their leadership in carrying this proposal forward.  The Legislature’s commitment of state support for NExT is a critical step toward making this public-private partnership a reality.  We look forward to continuing to work with our partners on this important effort.”

— President Ted Carter, University of Nebraska

“LB 1107 marks the beginning of finally reversing the disproportionate burden placed on the backs of agricultural property owners in Nebraska.  We are thrilled to finally achieve meaningful relief directly from the state, especially in a year frustrated by a worldwide pandemic.  Devastating floods, extreme cattle market volatility, and crippling property taxes have wreaked havoc on our state’s top industry.  Nebraska’s cattlemen and women could not afford to wait any longer for relief.”

— Ken Herz, Nebraska Cattlemen President

“We are pleased to see the state commitment to funding for the NeXT project included in today’s signing.  This visionary public-private partnership not only will have an immense economic impact to our state—with nearly $8 billion in estimated economic impact just during its construction period alone—but as a state-of-the-art academic medical center facility and federal all-hazard disaster response military-civilian partnership, its impact will be national, even global, once it is completed.  The state commitment is a critically important step.”

— Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, Chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and University of Nebraska at Omaha

“Advancing property tax relief, economic incentives, and the NExT Project sets the longer term framework for Nebraska’s economic recovery.  We value state leaders’ commitment to finding common ground.  Their bold decisions this summer will be a difference maker for Nebraskans for years to come.”

— Bryan Slone, President of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry