KEARNEY, Neb. — The message is clear from Gov. Jim Pillen: he will do whatever he can to lower property taxes in Nebraska by billions of dollars.

“We are going to get to 40% property tax reduction this year no matter what the heck it takes," Pillen said. "No matter how long it takes, we’re going to get it.”

Pillen championed his 40% reduction goal in his state of the state speech in Lincoln on Thursday. He dug in on the stance on Friday in Kearney in the third of three town hall stops across the state. That goal means cutting $3 billion in property tax collections.

“We’ve got great partners in the unicameral," Pillen said. "You’ve gotta believe. The difference is that everybody in the unicameral is hearing from everybody across the state and it’s ‘fix the property tax problem.’”

To offset the cuts, he mentioned erasing several sales tax exemptions and increasing the tax rate for tobacco products from $0.64 to $2.64.

“I’m about health. I watched my dad die and spend the last five years of his life miserable from cigarettes," Pillen said. "I’d like to make a difference.”

In his words, every tool in the toolbox is available to lower property taxes. That includes an increase in state sales tax. In December, he suggested 2%. One bill in the legislature includes a 1% sales tax bump.

“We all have to have an attitudinal change," Pillen said. "We all gotta give a little bit up because this is the most regressive tax there is, the property tax.”

In addition lower taxes, Pillen plans to decrease spending. His budget calls for a 3% reduction in state spending this year and a 6% reduction next year.

“We’re going to be incredibly, incredibly conservative in great times like now, so that when the bad day happens, we’ll be able to be bold and courageous for Nebraska,” Pillen said.