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Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: I Want to Cut Your Taxes

Pete Ricketts Weekly Column

The average Nebraskan paid $10,519 in taxes to the federal government last year. In return, they should expect a responsible government that respects their God-given freedoms. Government should avoid wasteful spending and ensure the safety and security of our country. That’s not what we’ve seen the last few years. 

Bureaucrats in Washington are spending Nebraskans’ hard-earned money on burdensome and expensive policies. Instead of protecting your freedoms and keeping you safe, they’re using your tax dollars to hinder freedom and prosperity. Overregulation and overspending have caused historic inflation. It’s costing a typical family $11,400 more a year to maintain the same quality of life they had before Biden became president. You deserve better.

When I was Governor, we cut the growth of state spending by more than half while improving customer service. As a result, we delivered over $12.7 billion in tax relief. As Senator, I’m working to make Washington follow our example. A CATO Institute report found federal spending has increased 40% from 2019 to 2023. That’s irresponsible. Part of the problem is Congress’ process. Fiscal Year 1997 was the last time Congress passed all twelve appropriations bills and the President signed them into law. In the 27 years since, Congress has mashed bills together and slammed them through.

Over the past year, I’ve seen this firsthand. Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has forced “omnibus” bills on us. He has allowed very little debate or amendment on these omnibus bills. Because of their excess spending, I have voted no. The broken process has resulted in a broken product. Congress must do better. I’ve called for a return to a regular appropriations process with amendments and debate. We need to review every dollar we are spending. My goal is to limit growth of non-defense discretionary federal spending to 3% – just like we did in Nebraska when I was Governor. Limiting spending will keep inflation from skyrocketing like it has these last few years. It’s also how we can responsibly deliver meaningful tax relief. 

For example, I signed legislation as Governor that helped seniors by phasing out state taxes on Social Security benefits. In the Senate, I’ve introduced legislation modeled on this Proven Nebraska Solution. My Social Security Check Tax Cut Act would cut the federal tax on Social Security benefits by 20% over two years. It would allow a typical senior to save about $800 in 2025. That’s 241 gallons of gas at current prices. It’s a step to boosting retirement income for seniors in Nebraska and across the country.

During my time as Governor, I also signed bipartisan legislation ending state taxes on military retirement benefits. My Tax Cuts for Veterans Act in the U.S. Senate would extend this to federal taxes. This legislation could save an enlisted soldier with 20+ years of service over $6,000 each year. That would be real relief for veterans and their families at this time of stubbornly high prices. I’m also working to permanently repeal the Death Tax. Up to 40% of a property’s value is taxed when it is passed down to the next generation. It’s wrong to force a farm family or small business to sell off chunks of their operation or property to afford a tax. The federal government shouldn’t penalize grit and success. We should reward hard work.

I’m also working to protect Nebraska families from federal tax hikes. Many of the income tax reductions from President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are set to expire next year. For those who don’t remember, the bill doubled the child tax credit and reduced the federal tax rate for middle-income earners. Allowing these tax cuts to expire would essentially raise taxes on millions of Americans. I’ve co-sponsored legislation to make these tax cuts permanent.

Nebraskans deserve to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. I will keep working to fight Washington’s bloated spending and reduce the burden of unfair and unnecessary taxes. These common-sense solutions are one of the ways I’m doing that.