Gov. Pete Ricketts will continue to press for tax relief, even in the face of a looming budget shortfall.
State lawmakers return to the Capitol this morning as a new legislative session begins. This is the longer, 90-day session in which legislators craft a state budget for the next two fiscal years.
Ricketts insists Nebraskans deserve a cut in the taxes they pay, even if the state faces the possibility of a $900 million shortfall over the next biennium.
“Certainly, if we can achieve tax relief, that will help spur our economy, giving people back more of their own money,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview in his Capitol office. “But, the biggest reason I want to do it is because our people here in the state feel like they’re overtaxed, because frankly we’ve got high taxes.”
Ricketts must first deal with the current budget, which has experienced a revenue shortfall. He has already ordered his administration to tighten its belt. The governor declines to discuss budget proposals, either for the current fiscal year or the next two-year budget. That will come in his State-of-the-State address to the Unicameral later this month.
A drastic downturn in farm income has cut state revenue, leading to a current budget shortfall as well as the projected one.
Lawmakers have been wary to cut taxes in light of projected revenue declines. The Unicameral watered down two proposals by Gov. Ricketts last year; one to provide incentives for school districts to not raise property taxes and the other to provide $20 million in property tax relief.
Ricketts claims he has not been frustrated by the changes legislators made.
“That’s the legislative process. That’s our system of government. So, I don’t get frustrated with it. It just requires work and that’s why we’re all here.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]