Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
Taxes are too high in Nebraska. I hear it every day; property taxes, income taxes and occupation taxes are too high.
Nebraska fares very well in general business rankings, but not on the tax rankings. For example, according to the Tax Foundation, Nebraska has one of the 16 highest top state income tax rates and Nebraska is one of the 13 highest property tax states. That needs to change.
Additionally, more than 35 states exempt a portion of or all social security income from taxation, but Nebraska does not. Nebraska is one of only eight states with an inheritance tax. Even California doesn't have an inheritance tax. Kiplinger recently named Nebraska as one of "The 10 Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees." Nebraska must address its high tax situation.
It's been nearly five decades since Nebraska had a serious debate about our overall tax system and we were operating in a completely different economic environment then. Our current tax code was designed in the 1960's for the 1960's. Back then, Americans didn't even have personal computers in their homes. Now, we live in an electronic age.
Today, we are operating in a technology-driven, global free market economy, and we need a modern tax system. We need a tax code that represents the future, not the past. We need a modern tax system to create more jobs and higher paying careers for our sons and daughters, and our grandkids. We need a tax code that protects taxpayers.
That's why the Tax Modernization Committee recently held public-input hearings in Scottsbluff, North Platte and Norfolk. This committee was created this past legislative session to study Nebraska's tax system and possibly make recommendations for change.
The public hearings are an opportunity for an open dialogue to occur between the people of Nebraska and the committee members. Additional public hearings will occur this month with a report of the committee's work to be released in mid-December.
I want to commend the Tax Modernization Committee and I want to thank our citizens who have shared their opinions about taxes at these meetings. Citizen input is essential to the process of tax reform and modernization.
I am hopeful that we can develop a tax relief package that includes both property tax relief and income tax relief. It is a delicate balance. It won't be easy, but with citizen input and working together with Legislature, I believe we can do it.
- Dave Heineman
Governor of Nebraska