OMAHA - A panel of state senators asked for public input, and even “pressure,” on Tuesday to help them solve Nebraska’s decades-old problem of high property taxes.
And those who filled half the seating area at the Omaha Firefighters Hall attempted to oblige, asking lawmakers why the state’s taxes pinch homeowners and landowners harder than in neighboring states like South Dakota and Iowa.
A farm manager from Waterloo provided the most dramatic testimony, saying that property taxes on cropland he oversees have risen by 278% over the past decade and gobble up 36% of the rental income from the property.
The tax burden will drive farmers out of business, said Ed Herlein, who supports shifting the tax load onto sales or other taxes. Before he stepped into the hall Tuesday evening, he signed an initiative petition that — if passed by state voters — would do that, by mandating a 35% state rebate on property taxes to all property owners. Senators have said it would force either drastic cuts in state services or steep increases in state sales and income taxes.
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