Ricketts approves budget that includes property tax relief

Ricketts approves budget that includes property tax relief

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts avoided a potential battle with state lawmakers on Monday by signing a two-year, $9.3 billion budget package that bumps up property tax relief.

Ricketts chose not to veto any provisions in the various bills that he signed Monday, an uncommon but not unprecedented move for a Nebraska governor.

In a statement accompanying his decision to sign the bills, Ricketts touted the tax relief that’s being provided, the $2 billion being spent on public schools and restrained spending.

The budget sets Nebraska up for expanded relief in years to come, Ricketts said.

The budget includes:

» A $51 million annual increase in the state’s Property Tax Credit Fund. The increase would provide about $20 more in property tax relief to the owner of a $100,000 home and about $24 more per $100,000 worth of farmland. The additional money brings the total available for property tax relief to $275 million per year.

» An annual increase in state spending of about 2.9%, less than the 3.1% increase the governor had proposed.

» Larger increases in rates paid to providers of health care, child welfare and behavioral health than Ricketts had proposed.

» $49 million to expand maximum security prison space and money for “problem-solving courts” for veterans and drug offenders.

» Sufficient funds for the first nine months of voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

» A $135 million increase in state school aid over two years.

» An increase in funding for the University of Nebraska each of the next two academic years, first 3%, then 3.7%. The boost puts the university in better shape going into the Board of Regents’ June meeting at which the regents will review changes in tuition.

NU President Hank Bounds on Monday lauded the governor, saying the budget sends a strong message of support for higher education and its role in the state’s economy.

“This budget will allow the University of Nebraska to keep tuition affordable and help solve our state’s urgent workforce challenges,” Bounds said in a statement.