FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Lincoln, Neb.) PHOTO GALLERY - Gov. Dave Heineman delivered his State of the State address today focusing on opportunities to strengthen job creation and education across Nebraska.
In addition to offering a balanced budget proposal that maintains tax relief programs enacted in recent years, the Governor proposed several jobs and education-related investments to continue Nebraska's growth despite a slow national economic recovery.
"Today I am submitting a bold, innovative and strategic two-year budget and a four-year vision to make Nebraska the ideal place to create jobs and grow a business, the best place to obtain an education for students of all ages, and the perfect place to raise a family," Gov. Heineman said. "This budget capitalizes on our positive momentum and sets the stage for a prosperous decade.
"We will invest in Nebraska's future by focusing on economic growth and jobs. We will invest in Nebraska's young people by prioritizing education and by focusing on educational accountability."
The Governor is proposing a Talent & Innovation Initiative aimed at enhancing Nebraska's economic momentum, which includes four proposals to:
The Talent & Innovation Initiative is based on recommendations provided in a 2010 comprehensive review of Nebraska's economic climate by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice and findings of the Legislature's Innovation and Entrepreneurial Task Force.
Gov. Heineman said, "Economic success and education success are linked together. We need both. We are focused on creating higher paying jobs and developing a more highly educated workforce. We want our graduates and young professionals to be prepared for high-quality, high-skill jobs with dynamic companies doing business right here in Nebraska."
The Governor's budget proposal includes a one-time investment of $25 million to accelerate initial development of the University of Nebraska's Innovation Campus in Lincoln. He also recommends directing $8.5 million from lottery funds for a virtual high school being developed by the Nebraska Department of Education and the university.
Gov. Heineman said, "The University of Nebraska is a critical component to our state's economic future. With its pending move to the Big Ten, the University of Nebraska has an outstanding opportunity to significantly increase student enrollment, expand its rapidly growing research base and develop public-private partnerships at Innovation Campus that will increase job opportunities for Nebraskans. This bold investment is needed now, not five years from now."
The Governor's budget prioritizes education with funding for state aid to education remaining flat at $810 million in FY12, an additional $50 million in FY13 totaling $860 million for state aid to education, and no reduction in higher education funding for the University of Nebraska, state colleges and community colleges.
Gov. Heineman said, "This budget is about setting priorities and making difficult decisions about the most important responsibilities of state government. I've listened to our citizens and their priorities are creating jobs, improving the economy and strengthening education. This budget reflects those priorities."
In order to prioritize investments in education and economic growth at a time when state revenues are projected to remain lower than FY08 levels, the Governor's budget reduces funding for many state agencies and eliminates several programs. The need for further reductions has been offset by transferring $260 million from the Cash Reserve Fund.
Finally, the Governor outlined a series of issues he intends to address over the next four years, including: continuing to lower taxes, reforming the state income tax system, restoring the Cash Reserve, achieving structural balance in the state budget, resolving roads infrastructure funding challenges, improving Nebraska's child welfare system, and increasing educational accountability.
Gov. Heineman said, "Governing requires making tough decisions and I am committed to tackling the challenges that lie ahead. We have an extraordinary opportunity to reshape the economic, education and family landscape of Nebraska. We've made exceptional progress during the past few years but we have more work to do. I have high expectations for our state and for what we can do for our citizens."