Gov. Ricketts wants tax incentives improved, not scrapped
LINCOLN - Gov. Pete Ricketts agrees some changes might need to be made to the state’s top business incentive program, but disagrees it needs to be scrapped.
A legislative task force recommends the Unicameral end the Nebraska Advantage Act at the end of next year.
Ricketts says he would like to tweak the act, not end it.
“What I would like to see is more accountability and transparency,” Ricketts tells reporters when asked about the task force recommendation. “I would like to make the statutes easier to use for businesses and I’d like to focus on higher paying jobs. I think those are all improvements that we can make with an incentive program. I think that if you look at other states, this is competitive with other states. Even states that have no income tax have incentive programs.”
A 10-member legislative group, called the Economic Development Task Force, has released a report recommending the legislature end the Nebraska Advantage Act as well as the Nebraska Rural Advantage Act after next year, a full year ahead of its sunset date. The acts give tax breaks to businesses based on their investment in Nebraska and the number of jobs created.
The task force didn’t stop there.
It recommends legislators end other tax breaks, such as the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit, the Historic Tax Credit, and the New Markets Tax Credit. The task force recommends the legislature focus on workforce development, strategies to encourage entrepreneurs, and impact investments, among others during the 2019 legislative session.
Ricketts says the incentives in the Nebraska Advantage Act are important, though he says they shouldn’t be the state’s biggest selling point.
“The way I think about it is we want to use incentive programs to get companies to take a look at Nebraska, but that’s not how we want to sell the business to them, so to speak,” Ricketts says. “What I want is for companies to take a look at Nebraska, because of the incentives, but I want them to come here, because we have a great work force, because we’ve got a great regulatory environment, because we have a competitive tax environment. Long term, that’s sustainable with regard to how we do economic development.”