Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) proposed growing his state's economy, making over public education and further streamlining state government in his state of the state address Jan. 14, just two months after he and the Legislature budget-cut their way out of a $335 million deficit.
"We acted quickly and decisively. We resolved this financial challenge by reducing spending, not by increasing taxes," Heineman told the unicameral, officially non-partisan but Republican-controlled, Legislature. "As a result, we are positioned to continue moving Nebraska forward. My focus for the coming year is to prepare our state to take advantage of new opportunities."
Three years after slashing taxes — a move Heineman touted as allowing Nebraska to drop more than 10 spots on the Tax Foundation's most-taxed-states list — the governor, who is running for reelection, said he would pursue further tax cuts, as well as spending cuts since revenues continue to slide.
"It will be critical that we solve any additional revenue shortfalls by remaining committed to reducing spending," he said. "Preventing any future tax increases is crucial to continuing Nebraska's economic progress. Tax increases are job-killers, not job-creators." As part of Nebraska's Race to the Top application for competitive federal education dollars, Heineman proposed a new "Virtual High School " that would offer a wide range of rigorous, advanced classes to supplement the classroom.
" Imagine students spending more time in a virtual classroom between the hours of 3:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.," Heineman said, "and less time on the streets involved in drug and gang activities."