Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts spoke to a full house of more than 50 people at the Town Hall today in Broken Bow. Held at the Broken Bow Chamber office, there was standing room only as the Governor spoke about his priorities for the state and then fielded questions on property tax relief, incentives for young ag producers, a two house state government, school funding, child welfare and foster care, nursing home crises, gun rights and Red Flag laws and rural mental health.
The Governor outlined the four priorities from his State of the State message delivered yesterday (01/15/2020) in front of the Legislature - Property tax relief, flood relief, veteran’s tax relief and workforce. He said he had three principles in working on property tax relief: no tax increase protect the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund and encourage spending restraints in local governments.
The number one priority, Ricketts said, is property tax relief. In that vein, he said work has been done on a broad frame work to introduce foundation aid, that is, aid based on a per-student formula, into school funding, to help bring down property taxes. The plan would phase in over the course of five years . “The details are yet to be worked out,” Ricketts said. “There’s no full plan yet but I’m optimistic. Six of eight committee members on the committee have co-signed it. We need to get 33 votes to get it to my desk.”
He said some school districts in the eastern part of the state will need to be convinced. “Every school district would benefit,” he said. “It would help our rural school districts.” The governor was quick to add that passing such a bill is not the end of the trail. “We need to change the way we value ag land.” Nebraska values ag land based on market value. Most other agricultural state based ag land value on income potential.
The Governor's stop in Broken Bow was part of his State of the State Fly Around schedule. After the State of the State address in Lincoln on Wednesday (01/15/20), he visited Grand Island, North Platte and Scottsbluff. Before Broken Bow today, he spoke in McCook and after visiting Custer County, he was on his way to Ord. The Fly Around will finish on Friday with visits to Hastings, Beatrice and Fremont.
Read more about the Governor’s visit in the Jan. 23 issue of the Custer County Chief, available in print and online.