Gov. Dave Heineman says he remains willing to negotiate with legislators on a tax cut package this legislative session.
Heineman says this year’s debate will have an effect on the state for years to come.
“This tax debate that we’re going to have, this tax discussion, providing meaningful and responsible property and income tax relief is about the future,” Heineman tells reporters in a conference call. “Ask any Nebraskan and they’ll tell you property taxes are too high, income taxes are too high and if we don’t change our tax system to become more tax competitive we’re going to lose the jobs of the future and we’re not going to be able to keep people here in the state.”
Heineman says he has been in meetings with business executives who have asked about the state income tax rate and have explained that they can locate in other states that have much lower rates.
“We have to become more competitive. It’s one part of the equation. And, I believe we’re going to get it done during this session,” according to Heineman.
Heineman criticizes local governments for recently raising property taxes, noting that a recent report indicated that 70 Nebraska counties raised property taxes more than 5%, 51 have raised property taxes by more than 7% and 25 have raised property taxes by more than 10%.
“I understand why Nebraskans are unhappy,” Heineman says. “Property taxes are too high and they’re increasing too rapidly and we’ve got to address these issues.”
Heineman says it is up to legislators whether they want to lower the percentage at which agriculture land is assessed for property taxation from 75% to 65% or contribute more money to the Property Tax Credit Act in an effort to provide property tax relief this session.