Gov. Pete Ricketts is backing a package of proposals to provide property tax relief by limiting the growth of local government spending and the rate at which farmland can be assessed.
Ricketts says two bills will be introduced this legislative session to tighten spending limits on local governments, remove exceptions to raise local levies, control growth within the school funding formula, and limit the growth of the assessed valuation agricultural land to three percent annually.
“So, all these things together will be how we create structural change to encourage local governments to continue to be fiscally responsible,” Ricketts tells reporters during a Capitol news conference. “Many make great efforts along those lines. These will be additional tools to be able to help them out.”
Ricketts says both proposals will be formally submitted to the legislature after his State of the State address Thursday morning.
The Revenue and Education Committees will hear the two proposals that, though separate bills, are being handled as a package.
State Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island, chairman of the Revenue Committee, says the key to keeping property taxes in check is the limit the growth of local government.
“It is a slowing down, for the revenue bill, in land valuation and it’s a limiting in growth in spending,” according to Gloor. “These are structural changes in how we take a look at property tax. It’s important to emphasize that word, it is a structural change in the way we look at property taxes.”
Education Committee Chairwoman, Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, says the state would set tighter limits for raising taxes.
“I want to emphasize though in all of these limitations that we are proposing to put in place to school districts, ESUs (Education Service Units), and community colleges, it never removes the alternative to go to a vote of the people,” Sullivan says. “So, if these local governing boards decide that it is necessary to exceed these limitations, they take it to a vote of the people.”
AUDIO: Gov. Pete Ricketts holds news conference on property tax relief package. [20 min.]