Tax Cuts, Spending On Education Are Priorities For Governor Pillen

LINCOLN–(KFOR Jan. 25)–Governor Jim Pillen has laid out on what he would like to see accomplished this legislative session by Nebraska lawmakers, which primarily includes tax cuts and limiting spending by state agencies.

During his State of the State address Wednesday morning, Pillen made clear on holding the line on that spending by those agencies but using the large revenue surplus for tax cuts, while increasing state aid to schools.  Pillen’s proposed two-year budget only allows for 1.3% spending growth, with only a .01% increase in year two and a 2% boost in funding for the University of Nebraska.

No new spending could also mean money being directed toward education and tax cuts, reducing the Nebraska’s top income tax rate from 6.84% to 3.99%.  The current state income tax rates under 3.99% for low-income Nebraska residents would stay the same.  Pillen referred to Nebraska’s current tax policy is chasing “out kids and grandparents out of the state.”

Courtesy of Nebraska Public Media/Governor’s Office

Also included in the budget is putting $2.5-billion toward increasing state aid to K-12 schools, which would be on a per-student basis, to schools not receiving state aid and increase spending toward students needing special education.

Pillen’s budget would also devote money to the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln.  About $96-million would be allocated toward a 1,500-bed prison that could cost as much as $350-million.  No determination has been made on where the prison would be located, other than some place between Omaha and Lincoln.

Among the other budget priorities for Pillen include $100-million in matching state funds to get $400-million in federal dollars from the infrastructure bill recently signed by President Biden.  About $39.4-million would got toward 4,200 higher education scholarships toward career fields needed, such as nursing and education.  State workers would get a salary increase, with 22% toward state troopers and anywhere from 10% to 27% for other state workers.

Nebraska Appleseed executive director Becky Gould sent out a news release to KFOR News, responding to Governor Pillen’s State of the State Address by first touching on the importance of focusing on a better life for all Nebraskans.

“This is an important goal as far too many Nebraskans are struggling with finding affordable housing, child care, food, and jobs that pay enough to make ends meet,” Gould said.  “We can’t build thriving communities or solve our workforce challenges without addressing these key needs.

When it comes to the voter-approved increasing the state’s minimum wage, Gould added they are discouraged to see some legislation geared to undercut Initiative 433 to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2026 and adjusted each year thereafter to account for cost of living.”

About 60% approved of Initiative 433 this past November.