Today, Gov. Dave Heineman delivered remarks to the Nebraska Legislature as lawmakers closed the first session of the 103rd Legislative Session. Gov. Heineman highlighted a good legislative session that made steady and deliberate progress by passing a two-year budget focused on Nebraska's future by prioritizing education, growing the state's economy and rebuilding the state's cash reserve fund.
"We agreed on the most important funding issues, including a tuition freeze for students attending the University of Nebraska and our state colleges; increased funding for K-12 education, special education and early childhood education; the funding for a new Central Nebraska Veterans Home; and rebuilding the cash reserve," said Gov. Heineman. "Most importantly, we balanced the budget without raising taxes."
While the budget guides the state's key priorities, there were several other key pieces of legislation aimed at improving the lives of Nebraskans. Gov. Heineman signed into law several bills that will bring tax relief to our citizens.
Gov. Heineman said, "We eliminated Nebraska's alternative minimum tax for middle class families, so they can now keep more of the money they earn. We helped small businesses by allowing them to carry forward their net operating losses for 20 years instead of the current policy of five years. This change is important to start-up small businesses."
Additional tax relief bills include increasing the income tax deductions for families saving for a college education when contributing to a Nebraska College Savings Plan. More money is tax deductible helping families save more for their children's college education. Finally, Gov. Heineman signed into law a bill that expands the capital gains exclusion for employees whose companies have an Employee Stock Ownership Plan or ESOP.
Gov. Heineman outlined a bill which is aimed at improving the juvenile justice system in Nebraska. This bill shifts the supervision of all juvenile offenders in the community to the state's probation system reducing reliance on detention and focusing on rehabilitation for youth while keeping families involved.
"By moving the juvenile justice youth into the probation system, Health and Human Services will be able to focus their attention more directly on assisting youth in the child welfare system, where children who are victims of abuse are cared for, instead of the youth breaking the law," said Gov. Heineman. "This is one of the most important bills of the Legislative Session."