Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 10:45a.m.
LINCOLN – As state lawmakers prepare for the new legislative session beginning Jan. 9, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry has announced its 2019 major legislative objectives, which were approved Nov. 28 by the Chamber’s board of directors. Some of the Nebraska Chamber’s key legislative priorities for the new year include:
Workforce Development. Recent Nebraska Chamber surveys of business leaders have found that the overwhelming majority of respondents say their communities or businesses face a workforce shortage. Because Nebraska’s economic growth depends on talent supply, the State Chamber will support policies and programs aimed at growing, educating and improving Nebraska’s workforce. Specifically, the Chamber recognizes the value of the state-administered Intern Nebraska program and customized job training, as well as career academies that focus on specific vocational skills in high school and junior high. The Chamber will support reciprocal state licensure and certification recognition, as well as efforts to recruit new workers to Nebraska. To enhance Nebraska’s skilled workforce, educational funding programs should improve accountability, reward excellence and encourage innovation.
Tax Relief and Economic Competitiveness. Currently, Nebraska’s top individual income tax rate is 6.84% – the nation’s 15th highest – on earnings just above $30,000. Nebraska’s maximum corporate tax rate is 7.81%, also 15th highest in the country. The state’s high income tax burden is negatively affecting economic growth and job creation and makes the Cornhusker State less competitive. The Nebraska Chamber will support efforts to lower Nebraska’s highest individual income tax rate, as well initiatives to harmonize the top corporate tax rate with that of the individual income tax. The Chamber will oppose efforts to increase state sales and income tax rates, as well as legislation to expand the state sales tax base on business inputs or further earmark tax revenue for specific state spending.
Efficiency in Government. The Chamber will support initiatives to improve the delivery of public services and the overall efficiency of state and local government. This includes the elimination of unnecessary services and programs; the restraint or reduction of state and local government spending; and the improvement of public employee capacity and output. The Chamber will support legislative and administrative proposals to provide for more streamlined, efficient, flexible and focused government services, including at the local level.
In addition to approving the 2019 major legislative objectives, the Nebraska Chamber Board of Directors confirmed the election of the association’s leadership for the new year. Todd Foje, CEO of Great Plains Communications of Blair, will serve as the State Chamber’s 2019 chairman. He will officially begin his duties Feb. 7 at the organization’s annual meeting in Lincoln.
Foje succeeds 2018 Chairman Rich Herink of Lincoln, market executive of First National Bank. DJ Eihusen, chairman and CEO of Chief Industries in Grand Island, will be the Nebraska Chamber’s chair-elect.