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      Tax Relief Major Topic in Heineman's State of the State Address

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      Gov. Dave Heineman said during his State of the State address Wednesday that Nebraska needs to focus on property and income tax relief, saying the state can afford up to $500 million in tax relief over the next three years.

      The governor says the state can afford to spare such a large amount because of Nebraska's growing economy, strong cash reserve and control on spending.

      The state's cash reserve sits at $722 million, a record high in terms of total dollars. It was larger as a percentage of the state budget in 2008.

      Heineman also said he will support a Nebraska Farm Bureau proposal to lower agriculture land valuations.

      "In rural Nebraska, record highproperty taxes are hurting our farmers and ranchers. However, we can help themby supporting the Nebraska Farm Bureau's proposal to lower ag land valuationsfrom 75 percent to 65 percent," Heineman said. "Nebraska's strong agriculture economy won'tcontinue to exist with unreasonably high property taxes."

      Heineman went on to say that local governments need to control spending increases to keep property taxes from rising, saying, "Nebraskans know that the Legislature does not set property tax rates."

      He also addressed the state's income tax rates, saying lower rates are essential to attracting higher paying jobs.

      He said, "Small businesses need lowerincome tax rates to help grow their businesses and increase jobs. Nebraskansneed more middle class jobs in the $60,000 to $120,000 a year category."

      The governor also spoke on the newly introduced "earned time" proposal that would require inmates convicted of violent crimes to earn a reduction of their sentence instead of following the current "good time" law that automatically cuts a sentence in half.

      Heineman also addressed other prison reform issues as well as announced his continued opposition to Medicaid expansion in Nebraska.

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