LINCOLN — Gov. Dave Heineman said he has no beef with Douglas County giving managers and other nonunion employees a 2 percent raise next year.
The governor said Monday that his desire to eliminate the inheritance tax is rooted in policy, not the proposed raises.
“County and state workers deserve reasonable pay raises,” he said. “I don't think a 2 percent increase is out of line.”
Heineman responded to a World-Herald story noting the county board will consider the raises while also fighting to keep the inheritance tax.
The governor’s comments came during a press conference peppered with questions about his potential tax initiatives for next year.
Heineman has said he’s exploring “bold” proposals, including the possible elimination of the state income tax.
On Monday, he said taxes remain a key concern of Nebraskans, even after establishment of a property tax credit, elimination of the estate tax, a reduction in income taxes and other changes.
“I still hear, despite all the progress we’ve made, that taxes are too high,” he said.
The governor declined to talk much about what he’s considering, although he hinted that business tax incentives might play a role in what he proposes to the Legislature next month.
Asked about a New York Times report that Nebraska ranks third highest in the amount of business incentives given per state resident, Heineman advised the questioner to “stay tuned” until January.
Later he said he is looking at all tax options and ideas to encourage job creation and make Nebraska a better place to live.
Heineman has pledged to seek an end to the inheritance tax, which he said is bad public policy and hurts Nebraska’s rankings in state tax comparisons. Nebraska is one of eight states with an inheritance tax.
But counties, which receive the revenue from the tax, are gearing up to keep it in place.
Heineman has cited previous county spending decisions in his campaign to get rid of the inheritance tax.
Among his targets have been the Sarpy County Board’s decision in November 2011 to provide free family health insurance for themselves and other top officials and the Douglas County Board’s decision this fall to put $5 million of inheritance tax revenue toward the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s planned cancer research center.
The proposed Douglas County salary increases, which would take effect Jan. 1, are to go to about 300 nonunion county employees, including dozens paid more than $100,000 now.
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