Competing for growth depends on tax rates

Over the last two years, Nebraska has hit some key growth benchmarks.
In 2015, for the first time, Nebraska had over one million non-farm jobs. Our population hit an all-time high of 1.9 million people last year.
And, just a few weeks ago, Nebraska won the Governor’s Cup for the most capital investment projects per capita in the nation. Over 100 new investments helped Nebraska garner this coveted award.
Even with all these successes, Nebraska should not rest. We must continue to look for ways to become more competitive nationally.
Other states are constantly working to develop new competitive edges to attract more people, jobs and investment.
One significant area that Nebraska is not competitive in is taxes. We are a high tax state. Bloomberg ranks Nebraska 16th highest for income taxes and USA Today rates us 5th highest for property taxes.
Recently, the Tax Foundation released a new study showing Nebraska ranks 14th highest nationally for income tax collections per capita. High taxes stifle growth, hinder job creation and burden family budgets.
Our tax rates also matter because site selectors in charge of picking venues for new investments screen out high tax states for new projects, meaning Nebraska can miss out on even being considered for some investments.
If we are going to stay competitive, we must make progress in bringing our tax rates down.
Over the past two years, we successfully delivered over $400 million in direct property tax relief for all property owners across the state, and an additional $40 million in property tax relief targeted at ag land taxpayers.
Additionally, we worked with the Legislature last year to put more resources towards state aid to K-12 schools along with new spending controls on school spending.
This year, we are working with the Legislature on new reforms to income and property taxes to make our state more tax competitive.
In the area of income tax, I am working with Revenue Committee Chairman Jim Smith to bring down our top tax rate from 6.84 percent to under 6 percent.

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