April 25, 2014

State to hold 5 public hearings on tax reform, starting next week

The first of five public hearings on state tax reform will be held next week and Nebraskans are encouraged to attend. Governor Dave Heineman says they’ll be looking for suggestions.

“We want input from our citizens,” Governor Heineman says. “Come and tell us what taxes you want lowered. If you’ve got ideas on how to do that, we want to hear from you.”

A tax reform proposal that would have eliminated Nebraska’s personal income tax was proposed by Heineman several months ago, but it failed in the legislature. Still, the governor is continuing to push for change in the state’s tax system.

“What I’m trying to do right now is work with the Tax Modernization Committee,” he says. “I’ve met with their members and many members of the legislature. I can already begin to see a concensus is forming. They’re moving in the right direction.”

It’s that legislative panel that’s holding the hearing to gather input from Nebraskans on taxes.

State law requires the committee to issue a report by mid-December that makes

recommendations for any changes, if necessary, to Nebraska’s tax system.

Heineman says he hopes people will let their voices be heard before the committee on how the tax structure should change.

“It’s going to be about income and property tax relief,” he says. “As I travel the state, and I travel more than anybody else, every citizen tells me taxes are too high, income, property, occupation, so that’s the focus. Property tax is the most difficult one because that’s basically a local issue. I’ve served in local government and those decisions are made by city councils, county boards and school boards.”

The hearings will be recorded and transcribed but will not be broadcast or live streamed.

The first of the five hearings is next Monday at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff from 4-7 PM/Mountain. The next one will be held next Tuesday, September 24th at Mid Plains Community College in North Platte, from 1:30 to 4:30 PM.

Others are scheduled for September 26 at Northeast Nebraska Community College in Norfolk, October 17th at Metro Community College’s South Omaha Campus in Omaha, and October 18th at the State Capitol Building in Lincoln.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton