State legislators have advanced a break on personal property taxes.
But, it’s not much of a break in the eyes of some lawmakers.
In fact, debate on Legislative Bill 259 focused less on the bill and more on the overall lack of movement of property tax relief legislation.
Numerous lawmakers have complained that bills, such as one to lower the percentage of market value upon which agricultural land would be tax, haven’t gone anywhere this session, and likely won’t.
Sen. John McCollister of Omaha even complained about the approach, calling it piecemeal. He urged colleagues to broaden their approach to tax cuts.
“I believe Nebraska has a Whack-A-Mole tax policy,” McCollister said during floor debate. “Our efforts this year seem to be reactive and short-sighted.”
Still, lawmakers have advanced LB 259. The bill would exempt the first $10,000 in farm and business personal property from taxation.
Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango applauded approval of the bill, but said it really didn’t amount to much.
“We have not fixed the problem,” Hughes stated. “This is a step in the right direction, a baby step in the right direction. Serious property tax relief still needs to be tackled by this body and I applaud the members who are standing up and beginning to echo that chorus.”
A bit of humor entered the debate when Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins rose to ask Hughes, a dry bean farmer in western Nebraska, about his comments.
“Would you be willing to say that this doesn’t amount to a hill of dried beans?” Bloomfield asked.
“You know, that thought did cross my mind, but there are lines that I prefer not to cross when I’m at the mic,” Hughes responded.
“I’ll cheerfully push you across,” Bloomfield replied to laughter among senators.
The sponsor of LB 259, Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island said that while his bill might not amount to much, it moves in the right direction.
“It’s taken us a long time to get to the point where things are out of whack and that the stool has different legs that are a little longer than others,” Gloor stated in reference to the three-legged stool of taxation metaphor often used at the Capitol. “It’s going to take bunts and singles. I don’t know that our budget is going to allow for us to have home runs, but I think this is one step in the right direction.”