Heineman Highlights "Good Legislative Session For Nebraska Taxpayers"

(Lincoln, Neb.) - Gov. Dave Heineman delivered his 2014 Sine Die Address to the Nebraska Legislature on Thursday, marking the closing of the second session of the 103rd Legislative Session. In the address, Gov. Heineman outlined more than $400 million in tax relief to Nebraskans noting meaningful, responsible and significant tax relief.

"We are providing $412 million of tax relief to Nebraskans over the next five years which is meaningful, responsible and significant tax relief," said Gov. Heineman. "We've indexed Nebraska's individual income tax brackets for inflation. We've begun the process of exempting social security income and military retirement income from taxation. We have helped farmers and ranchers by eliminating the sales tax on repair parts for ag machinery and equipment."

A complete transcript of the Governor's address is below. Remarks are as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Legislature, Guests, Friends and Fellow Nebraskans:

For nearly ten years, I have had the opportunity to work with you and your staff members. I want to start my remarks today by thanking the Legislature's staff and the Senators' staff for your professionalism on the many issues that we work on.

I especially want to recognize the Clerk of the Legislature, Patrick O'Donnell. Patrick, I've known you for a long time. You are a good friend and a true professional. I appreciate and respect the job that you do, and the fair and impartial manner in which you fulfill your duties. Mr. Clerk, thank you.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Senators who will be leaving the Legislature this year. Senators Adams, Ashford, Avery, Carlson, Christensen, Conrad, Dubas, Hansen, Harms, Karpisek, Lathrop, Lautenbaugh, McGill, Nelson, Pirsch, Wallman and Wightman – thank you for your service to our state.

I also want to acknowledge and thank my Cabinet Members, my personal staff, the staff of the Policy Research Office, the Budget Office, and the thousands of Nebraskans who work for state government. The work you do every day requires a deep sense of dedication and commitment to helping others. We appreciate your service and your work.

For a few minutes, I want to discuss the 2014 Legislative Session.

It's been a very good year for Nebraska taxpayers. We are providing more than $412 million of tax relief to Nebraskans over the next five years. That is meaningful, responsible and significant tax relief.

We've indexed Nebraska's individual income tax brackets for inflation. We've begun the process of exempting social security income and military retirement income from taxation. We have helped farmers and ranchers by eliminating the sales tax on repair parts for ag machinery and equipment. We've expanded Nebraska's homestead exemption program so that more Nebraskans will qualify.

We've provided homeowners, farmers, ranchers and small businesses additional direct property tax relief by increasing the Property Tax Credit Program by $25 million, and we need to do even more in the future.

We've addressed the water sustainability issue with noteworthy legislation that preserves our water supply for generations to come. This legislation is aimed at planning for future water use in our state, especially in preparing for water shortages, as well as addressing water quality and flood control issues. Preserving and managing our water resources is important to Nebraskans, especially those who work in our number one industry – agriculture.

We will be working with the Council of State Governments to develop a pathway to a long-term prison strategy.

During this session, there were vigorous debates on a wide variety of issues, and that's good because we all aren't likely to agree on every policy issue.

Nebraskans and I are pleased that future education funding has remained prioritized through the rejection of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion program. It's also important to maintain our pay-as-you-go, debt-free roads construction program.

Over the years, working together, we've made a lot of progress on numerous issues.

We've focused our attention on the two most critical issues for the future of our state - education and jobs. We've passed statewide education assessments. We are focused on academic achievement and academic improvement. As a result, student test scores are improving.

Nebraska now has a top ten college going rate and we have the second highest high school graduation rate in America at 88.5 percent. We are preparing future generations of leaders for the jobs of tomorrow. We are focused on creating careers that will keep our young people here in our state and allow them to thrive in a global, free-market, technology-driven economy.

We've created a better environment for the private sector to grow jobs and look at the results.

Nebraska is on the move and we need to maintain that economic momentum. Nebraska is fifth in soybean production, third in producing corn, the second leading ethanol producer, first in pinto beans and popcorn production and Nebraska is now the number one cattle feeding state in America.

Nebraska is a leader in a diversity of industries, including the insurance, telecommunications, food processing and transportation sectors of our economy. Nebraska has the second lowest unemployment rate in America.

We are working to ensure that those who have served our country in the military have good jobs when they come home.

The strengths of Nebraska are seen across the state in example after example. Omaha has been recognized as one of the best cities for businesses and a top five military friendly city. Lincoln has been recognized as the best city in America for new jobs and the happiest city in America. Grand Island has been identified as one of the 100 best communities for young people. Kearney is one of the best cities for start-up businesses. Columbus has been recognized as one of 100 best small towns to live in. Arlington was recognized as the 2nd best town in America to raise kids. Nebraska City is one of the top 10 best small towns to visit. Scottsbluff has the fourth best library for children in America.

And, just last month, Nebraska won the Governor's Cup for being the number one state in America for the most economic development projects on a per capita basis during 2013. Collectively, working with our citizens and the business community, we have made it happen. We have real economic momentum and we can do even better in the future.

Again, thank you for your work on behalf of the citizens of Nebraska.

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