Supporters of cuts to property taxes say they will take into account what those cuts mean for school financing.
State lawmakers are reviewing a number of proposals to provide property tax breaks to Nebraska, especially to farmers and ranchers.
State Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse says the Unicameral must find a way to relieve the tax burden on Nebraskans.
“In the last two years that I’ve served in the legislature, it still comes down to one main issue that I hear time and time again whether I’m talking to rural people or the urban side in my district, people want to talk about property taxes,” Watermeier tells Nebraska reporters.
Watermeier sponsors two bills. LB 178 would lower the assessed valuation of agricultural land from the current 75% of market value to 65% over a four-year period. LB 364 would inject $60 million into the Property Tax Credit Program.
State Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft also sponsors two property tax bills. LB 350 also would lower the assessed valuation of agricultural land from 75% to 65%. A companion piece of legislation, LB 351, seeks to offset the loss of revenue to local school districts.
LB 351 would allocate 25% of the state income tax collected from residents of a local school district back to the district.
“Our current law only calls for 12% of income taxes that are collected locally to be returned to the school district,” Brasch says.
It would also remove the minimum tax levy penalty that penalizes school districts for lowering tax levies below a certain level.
“And what that means is that every school district in the state will receive some form of state assistance and that more state dollars would reduce the property taxes, particularly to those unequalized districts in the state,” according to Brasch.
Jay Rempe with the Nebraska Farm Bureau says the bureau has crunched the numbers and even if taxing districts respond by raising their levies, agriculture would still get a break.
“We calculated roughly that even assuming tax levy increases that schools would make up the levy or other local governments would raise their levy to make up the difference it would still result in a net $80 million worth of property tax savings to farmers and ranchers across the state,” according to Rempe.
The Farm Bureau points out that though farmers and ranchers make up only three percent of the Nebraska population, they pay 30% of the property taxes.