A final report to the legislature has been submitted by the Tax Modernization Committee which acknowledges Nebraskans pay abnormally high property taxes, but falls short of recommending legislation for the Unicameral to consider next year.
The report emerged from months of study following the last legislative session, which included numerous public hearings.
Chairman Galen Hadley of Kearney said during a news conference at the Capitol this afternoon that one tax in particular draws the ire of Nebraskans.
“The first thing we heard, we heard, we heard; property taxes, property taxes, property taxes,” “It just resonated from Scottsbluff to North Platte, Norfolk, Omaha, Lincoln,” Hadley told reporters.
The committee makes no concrete proposal for the upcoming legislative session.
It does say the legislature needs to consider increasing aid to public schools so school districts can lower levies. It also recommends increasing property tax credits and circuit breakers as well as lowering the assessed valuation of farm land.
The legislature created the Tax Modernization Committee after rejecting Gov. Dave Heineman’s proposal to eliminate the state income tax in exchange for eliminating about half the sales tax exemptions the state grants.
Still, the report makes no recommendation to lower individual income taxes.
“Our recommendation is no adjustment to rates is recommended at this time,” Hadley stated. “This is a policy matter for further analysis and discussion.”
Vice chairman of the committee, Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus, stated that each senator would have to evaluate various tax proposals by their own standard. Schumacher stated his standard begin with the basic philosophy that the state must have enough revenue to pay its bills, that the state must maintain an adequate budget reserve, and that the legislature not increase the tax burden on families making between $20,000 and $120,000 annually.
AUDIO: Tax Modernization Committee news conference, opening statement. [16 min.]