Let’s keep growing Nebraska
Growing Nebraska has been the vision of my administration during my first four years. Whether it is achieving one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, winning awards for the most new investments among all states, or leading the nation in fiscal restraint, we have been successfully building the environment to encourage growth. Over the next four years, we have the opportunity to build on that vision. By developing our people, running government like a business, cutting taxes, and promoting our state, Nebraska will continue to grow.
We have been developing our people to take the great jobs available in the state. To do this, we are expanding educational opportunities and connecting Nebraskans to great careers in three ways: The Developing Youth Talent Initiative has been helping demonstrate unique opportunities in manufacturing and information technology to middle school kids. Our reemployment program has transformed our unemployment system by requiring participants to search for a job more often, utilize an online jobs database, and meet with job coaches. This program has been so successful, we are using it to help families on food stamps achieve greater independence by helping them find a better opportunity with a higher income and greater benefits. In the coming years, we can build on these successes. Right now, I am working with my team on looking at what other states are doing to help develop their people, so we can take some of the best ideas and apply them here.
Over the next four years, I will continue to put my business experience to work to make government more effective, more efficient, and more customer-focused. Some have tried to say you cannot run government more like a business – and the 13,000 teammates at the state of Nebraska have proved those critics wrong. Across the board, agencies are delivering a higher level of service. We are delivering professional licenses more quickly through the Department of Health and Human Services. Our Department of Environmental Quality has put permits online and slashed wait times. The Department of Motor Vehicles is opening up new locations in the Omaha area to improve the customer experience. By utilizing process improvement techniques employment in the private sector, our team is looking at new ways to deliver a higher level of service and bring our costs down every day.
Each year I am governor, I have pledged to push for tax relief. Early in my first term, the Legislature and I worked together to increase the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund by 60 percent, and to put in place some spending control for schools. This was some notable progress, but more needs to be done. The last two years, a minority in the Legislature has opposed attempts to cut property taxes. My hope is that the new class of senators, many of whom ran on property tax relief, will work together to control spending and accomplish long-term structural property tax relief and reform. The key to long-term tax relief is controlling spending, and I will continue to work to control spending at the state level and urge local governments, who levy property taxes, to do the same.
Finally, promoting Nebraska nationally and internationally is key to growing our state. Over the last few years, I have traveled to Silicon Valley to help recruit Facebook to Nebraska and to New York City to promote our beef. With over 95 percent of the world’s population outside the United States, we must take our message around the globe to sell our products. I have led trade missions to Japan twice, China twice, the European Union, Canada, and Mexico. We have seen great results. For example, Nebraska saw a 26 percent increase in our beef exports to Japan and a 46 percent increase in pork exports from 2016 to 2017. We must continue to go out and develop those overseas markets, and that is why my team is currently working on our plans for additional trade missions in the coming months.
I am grateful to the people of Nebraska for the opportunity to continue to serve. Over the next four years, let’s keep growing our state. This will only happen if we all pull together and work to keep Nebraska the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family. If you have thoughts on how we can grow our state, I hope you will email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2244. Working together, we will grow our state for the next generation.
Pete Ricketts is the governor of Nebraska.