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Ricketts pledges support for K-12 school funding

(Nebraska City) — Despite budget cuts and plans to change Nebraska’s tax system, the state’s chief executive says support for public education will continue.

Governor Pete Ricketts addressed public education funding in a presentation at the Nebraska City Rotary Club’s noontime luncheon Wednesday. Later, Ricketts told KMA News his administration maintains support for K-12 education funding.

“Every year I’ve been governor,” said Ricketts, “we have prioritized K-through-12 education. In fact, in this budget, we’ve asked for across-the-board cuts to be able to get us back into balance, but we exempted K-12 education. So, we are definitely prioritizing spending on K-12 education. Our tax credit program is not going to have anything to do with the funding. It’s a tax credit based on all the taxes that you pay, including what you pay in your schools.”

Funding for Nebraska’s state universities is another matter. Ricketts says colleges and universities are among those covered in the proposed across-the-board budget cuts designed to address lower-than-expected revenues in the state–a problem facing Nebraska, as well as Iowa and other states.

“We’re asking all of our institutions in higher education to be part of the same 2-and-4% across the board cuts,” he said, “same as the agencies I’m asking to. In fact, some agencies like the department of agriculture, or economic development have taken 8% cuts already–and we’re asking those departments to take another 2-to-4%.”

Despite the cuts, Ricketts says higher education is still a priority.

“If you look at higher education just in general,” said the governor, “Nebraska has been very generous to higher education. In fact, we’re one of the five states where funding for higher education has actually grown–even adjusted for inflation. If you look specifically at the University of Nebraska, their overall budget is around $2.6 billion. This is less than 1% of their overall annual budget.

“Everyone has to be part of the solution here. We all have to step up, and make sure we can live within our means, and not raise taxes,” Ricketts added.

You can see a video of our interview with Governor Pete Ricketts at kmaland.com.

Article source: http://www.kmaland.com/news/ricketts-pledges-support-for-k--school-funding/article_fc8f2b86-0d11-11e8-97d5-13a0d1650557.html