QUESTIONS ON COST DOMINATE NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE HEARING ON $1.1 BILLION PROPERTY TAX BILL

The hearing for a controversial property tax bill was held at the legislature on Thursday. LB829, a bill introduced by Senator Erdman, would provide roughly $1.1 billion in property tax relief. Many questions came up during the bill’s hearing about how it would be paid for. The legislation doesn’t specify where the state is supposed to find the massive amount of money required to finance the tax cut. Opponents of the bill criticized it saying it would lead to drastic cuts in essential government services and increases in taxes in other areas. The parties testifying against the bill included groups like Nebraska based think tanks, the Platte Institute and Open Sky as well as the Omaha, Lincoln, and Nebraska Chambers of Commerce. Proponents of the bill were largely made up of farmers and ranchers as well as some commercial real-estate agencies. Supporters stressed that the legislature would have to figure out the funding issues because farmers and ranchers need the property tax relief now. No one testified from the Governor’s office during the hearing. However Ricketts has made it clear in the past that he doesn’t support the bill. During his State of the State address he unveiled legislation that would provide some more moderate property tax relief by using existing tax credits. Erdman has said that the Governor’s plan won’t do enough for struggling farmers though. He has also announced that they are gathering signatures to put the bill on the voting ballot so Nebraska voters can vote directly on the issue should it fail to pass the legislature.