Gov. Pillen delivers State of the State address with a focus on property taxes

Jan. 18, 2024, midnight ·

Gov. Jim Pillen 2024 State of the State
Gov. Jim Pillen delivers his State of the State address on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo by Kassidy Arena/Nebraska Public Media)

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Although Gov. Jim Pillen was expected to speak at 10 a.m. CST, his address was delayed by about 45 minutes. Senators took the time to express their concerns and criticisms over the administration’s economic decision-making for communities of color, particularly in North Omaha.

They also criticized Pillen’s communication practices, citing his claim that he didn’t have text messages when asked in a Freedom of Information Act request.

In response, Pillen said it’s difficult to please everyone. In regards to North Omaha, he said his goal is to bring economic prosperity to the area through a business park.

“[It’s] really, really important that this park is developed so that there can be great careers and jobs created for North Omaha. And so there'll be a few families that will have sacrifices, no question,” he said in a press conference following the State of the State.

The governor focused the majority of his address on reducing property taxes.

“The most important economic issue we face is out of control property taxes. This crisis is not new,” he said. “It has been hurting Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, homeowners and businesses for most of our lifetimes in this chamber.”

Pillen said he found Nebraska ranks as No. 7 in the country for highest property taxes.

“We've got to solve the problem. The highest problem is our property tax. It's the most regressive form of taxation errors, and we have to fix it,” he added.

The governor shared other goals for the year including asking the legislature to pass a bill prohibiting K-12 students from participating in sports designated for the opposite sex assigned at birth, dissolving several boards and commissions and eliminating competition within the state’s universities, colleges and community colleges.

The bill suggesting eliminating commissions includes dissolving the Racial Profiling Advisory Committee, which was created in 2013, the same year as the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb responded to the governor’s State of the State address shortly after the speech concluded.

"Governor Pillen showed yet again how out of touch he remains with the vast majority of Nebraskans,” she said in a press release. “And this morning Pillen gives more out-of-touch ideas for big problems facing our state.”

There are 49 days left in the second session of the 108th Legislature.