State Senator Mike Gloor of Grand Island says the increase would mean $90 million in property tax relief with half that amount going to homeowners.
“And then there’s a personal property tax, which is really directed towards small businesses, ag businesses,” Gloor says, “that personal property tax credit would use the other $45-million.”
The bill also provides $30 million for health care initiatives from the tax increase.
Gloor admits the bill faces an uphill battle.
“Increasing taxes isn’t something that the legislature likes to do. The other big challenge is the tobacco industry is one of the largest lobbying entities in the state of Nebraska,” Gloor says. “You also have some within the business community – convenience store operators, as an example – who sometimes make almost 50% of their profit margins off of the sale of tobacco products. Hard to believe, but they don’t want to see an increase.”
Nebraska’s 64-cents per pack tax is currently the tenth lowest rate in the country.
Brandon Peoples, KHAS, contributed to this article.