• Gov. Dave Heineman
Gov. Dave Heineman gave modest attention to schools in his second State of the State Address, delivered on Jan. 12, making a $421 million tax-relief package the focus of his mid-biennium budget proposal for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years.
Mr. Heineman was the lieutenant governor when then-Gov. Mike Johanns was tapped to become U.S. Secretary of Agriculture a year ago. He faces a gubernatorial primary later this spring.
Tax Relief: “Now is the time for tax relief,” said Mr. Heineman, a Republican.
One part of that relief plan would lower the local property-tax levy two years ahead of schedule, from $1.05 to $1 per $100 of assessed value, beginning in fiscal 2007.
Schools would not suffer, however. Under the governor’s plan, Nebraska would provide a total of $174 million in new state aid for schools over the next three fiscal years. That money is expected to come from fattened tax receipts. Nebraska has seen a marked increase in tax revenues—$261.4 million more than earlier projected for the biennium.
Read a complete transcript of Gov. Dave Heineman’s 2006 State of the State address. Posted by Nebraska’s Office of the Governor.
A video of the governor’s speech is also posted. (Requires a media player.)
Consolidation: Gov. Heineman did not mention the ongoing fight elementary school districts are waging to remain independent from bigger districts. The legislature passed a law last year to merge small, elementary-only districts with larger districts, but a state judge suspended the consolidation plan in November.
The governor made an apparent passing reference in his speech to a controversial plan by the Omaha public schools to expand the district’s boundaries and take over some schools in neighboring districts.(“Neb. Governor, Districts Oppose Omaha School Annexation Plan,” Aug. 31, 2005.)
“Too many of our school districts are spending far too much time and money on lawyers and lobbyists instead of focusing on our students, our teachers, and our classrooms,” he said in reference to Omaha.