Ricketts Praises Bill Aimed at Luring Federal Project to UNMC

Aug. 20, 2020, 5:23 p.m. ·

Gov. Pete Ricketts, with senators in background, at the Capitol Thursday (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

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Gov. Pete Ricketts is hailing a bill passed by the Legislature for giving Nebraska a shot at landing a huge federal project.

In remarks on the north steps of the Capitol, Ricketts touted the so-called Next Project at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which is competing to be the site of a national center to respond to radiological, biological or chemical emergencies. Ricketts said the Defense Department started planning for the project even before the current pandemic.

“The idea was to create additional capacity to bring Americans back from overseas should there be some sort of emergency and they needed medical assistance. The University of Nebraska Medical Center is working to be able to get that partnership with the Defense Department to create that surge capacity here in our state. It would create about 8,700 jobs. Those jobs on average would pay about $70,000 a year. That’s over a $600 million payroll right there,” Ricketts said.

The bill, LB1107, says the Legislature intends to spend $300 million toward the project, if the federal government commits $1 billion and private donations also reach $300 million. The project has an expected completion date of 2030. Ricketts also praised the bill’s commitment of additional funds for property tax relief, which he said would give the owner of a $200,000 house in Lincoln a yearly tax break of $577 when fully implemented. And he praised a new round of corporate tax incentives contained in the bill, which he said would help Nebraska compete for new businesses and jobs.