Posted 10 months ago
By Corey Sorenson
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman was in Chadron on Wednesday to address the local Rotary club and to get a first-hand update from local officials on recovery efforts from last month’s Winter Storm Atlas.
The governor’s message to the Rotarians was the one he’s been delivering around the state for many months: taxes are too high in Nebraska and he will work with the Legislature next year on creating a balanced plan of property and income tax relief. “Nebraska needs a modern tax system to create more jobs,” he said.
Heineman used five charts to show specific problems with the state’s current tax system. Among those were Nebraska’s inheritance tax and its failure to exempt Social Security payments from taxation.
He also showed the state’s rankings in three important areas: one of the 10 least tax-friendly states for retirees, one of the 13 highest property tax states, and one of the 16 highest income tax rate states.
Heineman repeated another of his long-standing postions, calling Obamacare too expensive and warning that the resulting growth of the current Medicaid program will cost the state $225-million dollars in new general funds over the next 6 years.
He concluded by saying that with Nebraska having the third-lowest unemployment rate in the country, a strong farm economy, and exports that have double over the past 5 years “we are on the move, but we have more work to do.”
As for the blizzard recovery, Heineman told Double Q Country News before his talk that he appreciated having a half-hour to visit on the subject with Mayor Karin Fischer and City Manager Wayne Anderson. “I just want to say thank you to the city leadership, thank you to this community for the way they came together,” he said.
He was especially pleased with the way such varied segments of the community responded to the blizzard and the cleanup…businesses and churches, the high school government class, students from Chadron State College and the Pine Ridge Job Corps Center, Wal-Mart and others. “I mean it was neighbor helping neighbor. The response has been extraordinary; that’s what makes Nebraska such a great place and such a special place.”
While Heineman has issued a state disaster declaration covering the blizzard and the tornadoes spawned in northeast Nebraska by the same weather system, any decision on a federal declaration is still sometime in the future.
“FEMA and NEMA (Nebraska Emergency Management Agency) officials are meeting with local emergency management people trying to get everything documented, then we’ll submit all that and see what FEMA does. I think we’ve passed the threshholds, but until we get that final approval, we won’t know for sure,” he said.