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LINCOLN – State Senator Mark Kolterman of Seward has introduced legislation to rewrite Nebraska’s business incentives. The bill is seen as a priority in the Legislature’s 2019 session since Nebraska’s current business incentives program is set to expire next year.
The “ImagiNE Nebraska Act” (LB 720) would revise and enhance Nebraska’s incentives by encouraging the creation of higher paying jobs and more investment from businesses already in Nebraska, as well as out-of-state companies.
Highlights of the new program are as follows:
Kolterman said Nebraska is at a critical point in history and that the challenges are mounting.
“We have a workforce crisis,” the senator said. “Our taxes are too high – both local and state taxes. ‘Brain drain’ has returned. We are failing to retain enough of our best and brightest.
“The national and global competition for talent and well-paying jobs is fierce. If we don’t find ways to grow our population, diversify our economy, and expand opportunities for the next generation, tough times are coming faster than any of us would like to admit.”
Kolterman said the ImangiNE Nebraska Act is about the state’s future and “making sure our children and grandchildren have ample opportunities to live and work here,” while also “ensuring a viable future for smaller communities.”
Currently, there are more than 2,000 business incentive programs offered by state governments and U.S. territories.
“Nebraska cannot afford to take a timeout on incentives or lose ground in the effort to attract more good jobs,” Kolterman said. “Just as the University of Nebraska’s football team needs four- and five-star recruits while developing its current talent, our state must continue to attract top employers while encouraging the growth of existing businesses.”
Kolterman noted that allowing the state’s business incentives to end with no substitute in place would be disastrous for Nebraska – akin to hanging a “closed for business” sign on the state’s front door.
“Nebraska must remain in the business recruiting-and-expansion game,” he said.
Kolterman concluded: “Like my colleagues, I’m passionate about finding a way to lower Nebraska’s high tax burden. But no matter what reforms we might make this year or next, Nebraska will still have property taxes that are too high and income taxes that are too high for businesses looking to expand or relocate from elsewhere. To level the playing field, we need competitive business incentives. That’s not my viewpoint; that’s 21st century reality.
“If Nebraska cannot or will not provide a competitive package of business incentives, there will be no money for tax relief. There will be less money to fund education. It is time to end the uncertainty. It is time to get to provide Nebraska with a new package of modern and timely incentives that recognize the way business is conducted today.”