- Gov. Pete Ricketts gave his annual State of the State address to the Unicameral Wednesday morning and pronounced things to be good.
"The solution, and (Olson and I) have talked about this and I've talked to other folks as well, is to actually sell the land", Ricketts said.
Businesses and people around the state are beginning to take notice of Nebraska, Ricketts said, helping the state achieve "record levels of employment with over 1 million non-farm jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in our state since 1999 at 2.7 percent".
Ricketts also proposed exempting school aid from cuts, increasing the number of corrections officers, and adding 100 beds to the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Ricketts said Nebraska also moved up seven spots in Chief Executive magazine's ranking of best states to do business.
USA companies, too, have sought investments in Nebraska, the so-called Silicon Prairie. In sum, Ricketts said the total investment from these companies was over $1 billion.
As an example of this, Ricketts said his administration worked to reduce the nurse licensing processing time from 96 days in November 2015, to an average of 30 days in December 2017.
Under the plan, most state agencies would see across-the-board cuts.
"Sen. (Mike) Groene will be (introducing) some new legislation exactly toward what we were talking about here today", Olson said.
"This provision in our state budget will finally end the use of Title X money to prop up and help finance the abortion industry in Nebraska", Venzor told CNA.
"If the governor truly wants to grow Nebraska, he should turn his attention to the middle class, the hard-working Nebraskans who are the heart of our state's economy".
"We have our work cut out for us, but I have no doubt we're up to the challenge", he said.
"Our revenues continue to fall below the expectations of the forecast board", Ricketts said. When we started out the fiscal year, we had $34 million less in revenue over last year.
Though the senators know there will be many disagreements to come, they are excited to get to work.
Ricketts said it would be funded through the existing property tax credit program, but would exclude out-of-state landowners who don't file income taxes in Nebraska. Funding to the NU would slashed by an additional $36 million.
Olson said after the governor's town hall discussion that he had met with Ricketts on Tuesday to pose the question to him directly. He said a "big one" is to child welfare and public assistance. Protects priority areas, including state aid to schools, special education, child welfare, developmental disability services and prison system.
Trade missions to Canada, China, Japan, Denmark and elsewhere have spurred growth on the Great Plains, Ricketts said. So for example, we have employers that are coming here and want to train people. "We have to take care of our kids".
Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln, the Appropriations vice chairman, said she appreciated the governor's effort to craft a balanced budget and his proposed investment in child welfare. He said that in the first seven months of 2017, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported parents using methamphetamine were a factor in one of every three removals of children from their homes in Nebraska.
"Controlling state spending is critical to making government sustainable and tax relief possible", he said.
A spokesman for the governor's office says the starting wage for the care workers is increasing from $11.71 per hour to $14.05 per hour. "My proposal will identify new revenue sources to be directed towards property tax relief, while at the same time protecting the interests of K-12education", Briese said.
But tax relief continues to be one of the most hard issues for senators to come to agreement upon.
He also unveiled a new tax package that again includes property tax and income tax relief, but without adding additional funding.
Property tax relief will now be delivered as a credit on state taxes, to ensure Nebraska property taxpayers receive relief. He flew to Grand Island, North Platte and Scottsbluff to talk about his plan after his State of the State address.