Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
It's been a very good year for Nebraska taxpayers. One of the most important accomplishments of the recently concluded 2014 Legislative Session was providing more than $412 million of tax relief to Nebraskans over the next five years.
We've indexed Nebraska's individual income tax brackets for inflation. We've begun the process of exempting social security income and military retirement income from taxation. We have helped farmers and ranchers by eliminating the sales tax on repair parts for ag machinery and equipment.
We've expanded Nebraska's homestead exemption program so that more Nebraskans will qualify. We've provided homeowners, farmers, ranchers and small businesses additional direct property tax relief by increasing the Property Tax Credit Program by $25 million and we need to do even more in the future.
We've addressed the water sustainability issue with noteworthy legislation that preserves our water supply for generations to come. This legislation is aimed at planning for future water use in our state, especially in preparing for water shortages, addressing water quality and planning flood control issues. Preserving and managing our water resources is important to Nebraskans, especially those who work in our number one industry -- agriculture.
We will be working with the Council of State Governments to develop a pathway to a long-term prison strategy. We prioritized future education funding by rejecting Obamacare's Medicaid expansion program.
Over the years, working with the Legislature, we've made a lot of progress on numerous issues. We've focused on education and jobs. We've passed statewide education assessments. We are focused on academic achievement and academic improvement. Student test results are improving.
Nebraska now has a top ten college going rate and we have the second highest high school graduation rate in America at 88.5 percent. We've created a better environment for the private sector to grow jobs and look at the results.
Nebraska is on the move and we want to maintain that economic momentum. Nebraska is fifth in soybean production, third in producing corn, the second leading ethanol producer, first in pinto beans and popcorn production and Nebraska is now the number one cattle feeding state in America.
Nebraska is a leader in the insurance, telecommunications, food processing and transportation industries. Nebraska has the second lowest unemployment rate in America. Last month, Nebraska won the Governor's Cup for being the number one state in America for the most economic development projects on a per capita basis during 2013.
Nebraska has real economic momentum and we can do even better in the future.