A legislative committee has heard the governor’s plan to cut property taxes, but also hears some complaints about the plan as well.
Gov. Pete Ricketts personally lobbies for the bill that would limit local governmental spending and cap growth of agricultural land assessments at three percent.
“It’s a balanced approach. It’s an incremental approach. It’s a measured approach. I think it strikes the right balance,” Ricketts tells members of the legislature’s Revenue Committee.
The bill would tighten current spending limits on local governments, such as cities and counties. It would eliminate current exceptions to levy limits, requiring local governmental officials to take proposed increases to a vote of the people. A companion measure would limit growth within the school funding formula.
The measure proposes providing a tax break for farmers and ranchers by capping the statewide aggregate increase in farmland assessments at three percent per year.
Ricketts urges lawmakers to listen to Nebraskans.
“You know, I know, our constituents, the same ones that live all across the state, are asking for property tax relief,” according to Ricketts.
Local governmental officials oppose the limitations.
Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler questions why the state would meddle with a formula which he contends has served Nebraska well. Beutler adds limiting revenue growth at the local level could put the bond ratings of cities at risk, because it would undermine confidence in the ability to meet bond payments.
The Executive Director of the Open Sky Institute, Renee Fry, questions the assessment cap for farmland, saying that if it had been in effect in 2005, agricultural property would now be assessed at 30.7%.
“As a shift occurs, you would likely see requests by residential land owners and commercial property owners for their own property tax breaks,” according to Fry.
The Revenue Committee will determine whether the full legislature debates the bill, LB 958, sponsored by Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island. Its companion bill, LB 959 sponsored by Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, is scheduled to be heard by the Education Committee Tuesday.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]