Thank you for your continued involvement in the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Your role as business leaders in your communities across the state helps make Nebraska the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.
To grow Nebraska, we must continue to create an environment for people and businesses to flourish. A key priority to make this happen is tax relief. As I travel the state, hardworking Nebraskans stress to me the importance of tax relief. The most recent biennial budget cut the growth of state government spending by nearly half and paved the way for $408 million in tax relief for Nebraska property owners through the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund. My administration is committed to becoming more competitive on income tax as well.
The key to sustainable tax relief is to continue to hold the line on spending, and my administration is focused on running government like a business to achieve this goal. For example, Nebraska’s Chief Information Officer recently announced $5.3 million in savings gained by centralizing IT services for 90 counties and five Nebraska agencies. The Department of Roads has streamlined its operations and is passing along $3 million annually in savings to counties and cities for their road projects. Additionally, the Department of Environmental Quality has started putting permit applications online, which dramatically reduces the time to issue a permit from weeks or months to days.
Our state’s fiscal restraint and stability strengthen Nebraska’s business climate and have earned us high marks nationally:
• Forbes ranks Nebraska as the 3rd Best State for Business in the country.
• MSN Money placed Nebraska among our country’s Top 10 States for Business.
• Pollina ranks Nebraska 2nd on its list of Top 10 Pro-Business States.
We also must look at expanding our business relationships overseas. In 2015, I participated in international trade missions to the European Union and Asia. These regions are home to numerous trade partners for our state. Trade between Nebraska and the European Union totals about $900 million every year. Japan is Nebraska’s largest foreign direct investor and our third largest trading partner; China is our fourth largest and fastest growing trading partner. Meeting personally with investors and trading partners provides an opportunity to bolster new opportunities abroad and create jobs here at home.
Nebraska’s business leaders and strong business climate contribute to our state’s outstanding quality of life. Thank you for your continued investment in our great state.
I look forward to working with each of you to grow Nebraska in 2016.