August 1, 2014

Veterans disabled during military service could get homestead exemption

Veterans disabled during their military service would be given a homestead exemption under a bill advancing in the legislature.

It is estimated that 2,500 Nebraskans would benefit from the tax break in LB 1087.

Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus supports the measure, but does so with a cautionary remark.

“It is only a matter of time that the line of people who are lining up before the Revenue Committee wanting to plead their cases for extra exemptions, homestead exemptions or whatnot, grows dramatically,” Schumacher told colleagues during floor debate.“And everybody has got a very good case why they should be exempted.”

It is expected the tax break would cost the state a little more than $400,000 a year.

It would apply to veterans suffering 100% disability during their time of military service as well as their widows or widowers.

Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearny, chairman of the Revenue Committee, told colleagues the question they need to ask is: Do we want to honor the sacrifices of those disabled while in military service?

“And of course I think people would say yes on that. The question becomes how much do you want to compensate them for doing this?”

Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha accused the sponsor, Sen. Pete Pirsch of Omaha who is running for Attorney General, of using the issue in his run for statewide office.

“I don’t believe this is aimed at helping veterans. I think it’s aimed at helping political careers, campaigns,” Chambers said.

Others questioned whether the state could afford a measure that could become more expensive with the on-going war in Afghanistan as well as future wars.

Such arguments irritate Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins, a veteran, who told fellow legislators those injured during their time in the military deserve the break.

“But we’re asking for a little tax break here for someone who has been declared 100% disabled. Good God, people, what are we thinking?”

The bill advanced on a 28-0 vote with nine senators abstaining.