Governor's 2013 Review

2 Jan 2014

State News

Nebraska’s 2013 in Review

By Governor Dave Heineman, December 27, 2013.....

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

The New Year presents the opportunity to reflect upon important issues that have been addressed during the past year. In 2013, Nebraska has continued its focus on job creation and education.

Throughout the year and across our state, it has been an honor to attend numerous ribbon-cuttings and economic development celebrations. From Fall City to Scottsbluff, McCook to South Sioux City, and everywhere in between, these events are signs of our continued economic growth.

Nebraska is in the enviable position of being recognized for our increased focus on making Nebraska more competitive for business and for continuing our tradition of a high quality of life. Nebraska is in good economic shape because we don’t spend money we don’t have. Whether it’s the family budget or the business budget, this is a principle to which we adhere. We have balanced the state budget without raising taxes, our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the nation and we continue to be recognized nationally as a top business friendly and family friendly state.

As Governor, I have continued our focus on international trade, direct investment and the creation of new export opportunities. This year, I was pleased to officially opened Nebraska’s first trade office in China. This was the second overseas trade we have established, having opened the Nebraska Center – Tokyo in 2006.

The Nebraska Center China is a vital element in the continuing development of Nebraska-China relations. Government officials and business leaders on both sides of the world joined together via technology to celebrate the opening of the state’s newest international trade office.

It is important to remember that economic development and job creation is only half of the equation for securing Nebraska’s future success. Ensuring that our children receive a quality education and are ready to compete in this global, free-market environment is a priority.

Providing our students with the best education possible is essential to Nebraska’s future. This year, we have had several highlights that mark the hard work of teachers, parents and the education community throughout our entire state.

For example, I was pleased to present Kearney High School teacher Kevin Witte with the prestigious Milken Educator Award. This award is considered the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program, having honored more than 2,500 teachers, principals and specialists coast to coast with 38 from Nebraska. Kevin symbolizes what’s best in Nebraska education.

I was also pleased to congratulate Hastings Middle School on being the first Nebraska school to receive the National Breakthrough School award. The goal of the award is to identify, recognize and showcase middle level and high schools that serve large numbers of students living in poverty and are high achieving or dramatically improving student achievement. Hastings Middle School students' test scores have been progressively increasing over the last several years.

Additionally, one of the goals of Nebraska’s P-16 Initiative (preschool through college) is for every high school in Nebraska to achieve a 90 percent high school graduation rate. Recently, the Nebraska Department of Education announced Nebraska’s statewide graduation rate has improved from 87.6 percent to 88.5 percent. That’s great news, and we are one step closer to the 90% goal. Nebraska has one of the best high school graduation rates in the country.

I want to congratulate our school districts for the increased focus that they put on graduating their students from high school. To succeed in life and in the work place, you need a high school diploma. We are also encouraging students to obtain either a two year associate’s degree or a four year bachelor’s degree, depending upon their area of study.

We’ve made great progress this year, but we have more work to do. I am committed to making strategic decisions that provide our sons and daughters with a bright future. Together, we can continue to make Nebraska the best place to live, to work and to raise a family.

Happy New Year.