Democrat Annette Dubas says property tax relief is the biggest issue she has heard while campaigning for governor.
Dubas, a state senator from Fullerton, says state government can help ease the burden of property taxes by providing more state aid to education, providing financial assistance to cities and counties, and ending any unfunded mandates to local governments.
“We need to be partnering with our local governments,” Dubas tells Nebraska Radio Network. “That’s, to me I think, as governor that’s what I would be working on is how do I partner with our local governments? We need to make sure that those services are being funded. We’re representing the same constituency and the same taxpayers. So, how do we find efficiencies? How do we work together to address the tax burden?”
The Unicameral ended state aid to local governments, cities and counties, in wake of the 2008 recession, which dealt a blow to state revenue, forcing lawmakers to make deep budget cuts.
Dubas says it’s time to reconsider the practice.
“I think we definitely need to go back and revisit that,” Dubas says. “Whether we reinstate it the exact same way that it was or whether we look for different ways to provide some more direct aid to our counties and our local governments, but I think that’s something that we need to be looking at. I know that’s something the Tax Modernization Committee has been talking about as well.”
Dubas says every discussion of tax cuts must take into account the effect on state services.
“It’s a balancing act. You want to make sure you are continuing to provide those essential services,” according to Dubas. “You want to have a fair and equitable tax structure and you need to always be mindful of your spending. So, I think those things go together.”
Dubas doesn’t favor elimination of the state income tax as advocated by Gov. Dave Heineman last legislation session. She says few have complained about the income tax, while the vast majority complains about property taxes.