The price you pay at the pump is going up.
State legislators have overridden Governor Pete Ricketts’ veto of the six-cent gas tax hike.
Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion, the sponsor of LB 610, urged colleagues to enact his bill, despite the objection of the governor.
“This discussion today is about a difference of opinion of policy between two equal branches of government,” Smith said in opening about his motion to override the veto.
Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson said he favored the gas tax increase, because road and bridge construction should be funded through a user fee.
“And we all have to remember there’s a cost to doing nothing,” Friesen told colleagues. “We can continue to let our roads and bridges deteriorate and the cost of those bridges, to replace them down the road, just goes up. It just costs more down the road.”
The six-cent increase will be phased in over a four-year period. Once fully enacted, the increase is expected to raise an additional $75 million annually for road and bridge repair. Money will be used by the state as well as Nebraska counties and cities.
Smith received the minimum votes needed for an override: 30. In fact, Smith received more votes on his override motion than he did on final reading of the bill, when he managed to get 26 votes.
Initially, the total on the override motion fell a vote short. Sen. Health Mello of Omaha then switched from “not voting” to vote in favor of the override, providing the 30th vote.
Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue opposed the override and told colleagues they are going against the will of Nebraskans, expressed through the campaign last year.
“The message came through loud and clear, taxes are too darn high, property taxes, income taxes, corporate taxes; taxes, taxes, taxes, we have to fix taxes,” Garrett stated.
In wake of the override vote, Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins saw nothing to celebrate.
“You know, it took us less than an hour and a half this afternoon to raise taxes on everybody in the state of Nebraska,” Bloomfield told lawmakers.