Sen. Clements meets with NCTC committee

Julie Davis
Nebraska City News-Press

State Senator Robert Clements was in Nebraska City on Tuesday, June 15, for a lunch meeting with the Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce Legislative Committee. The senator provided the group with a recap of the recent legislative session, including good financial news for property owners.

Clements said the state will be providing 16 percent income tax credits in 2021 for property owners after the Legislature passed LB 1107, the Nebraska Property Tax Incentive Act, earlier this year.

This act provides a refundable income tax credit beginning in tax year 2020 for individuals, corporations, fiduciaries, and financial institutions that pay school district real property taxes in Nebraska.

“We try to give back what we don’t absolutely need,” said Clements.

Clements said the state budget currently included $40 million over two years to expand broadband access across rural Nebraska.

Clements said the Legislature is also phasing in a 10-year plan to make Social Security benefits exempt from income tax. “Nebraska is not keeping people around at retirement,” he said, adding that the Legislature is trying to make Nebraska more competitive with surrounding states and more attractive to retirees.

Another retirement payment that is now exempt from state income tax is military retiree pay, said Clements. 

The Legislature took action to ensure that retired service members will not have to pay state income tax on their retirement beginning in 2022.

Clements said the Legislature made this move because of Offutt Air Force Base and the state’s desire to keep military retirees in Nebraska after their finish that portion of their careers.

During the lunch meeting, Clements also spoke about prison overcrowding.

He said the Legislature has been informed that building a new prison is the best solution to the overcrowding problem, and that $14 million has been earmarked for an independent study of the problem and possible land acquisition.

Clements added that state prison officials would like to locate the new facility between Lincoln and Omaha.

Cost of the new prison is estimated to be $230 million, as opposed to spending $195 million to upgrade the state penitentiary in Lincoln.

Clements said even with the upgrade, the existing facility would lack necessary space for drug and alcohol treatment, and the inmate capacity would actually decrease after the upgrades.

The senator also discussed the new Statewide Tourism And Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability (STAR WARS) Committee, of which he is a member.

This committee has been charged with identifying and evaluating opportunities to enhance the value of areas in the state that could benefit from economic development, tourism and recreation, flood control, and water sustainability.

Clements said about $2 million is currently available for economic development studies of potential opportunities.

Sen. Julie Slama was also scheduled to participate in the meeting, but was unable to attend due to illness.