The top priority of Governor Pete Ricketts this legislative session is moving forward, slowly.
Gov. Pete Ricketts keeps pushing two bills that contain his proposal for property tax relief.
“Well, we’ve got a lot of work to do to still get it to the floor. It’s absolutely my number one priority,” Ricketts tells Brownfield Ag News.
The two bills, LB 958 and LB 959, aim to curb the recent spike in property taxes on agricultural land, but could limit tax increases for all Nebraska property owners by limiting revenue growth on the local level.
Revenue Committee chairman, Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island, has made changes to his bill, LB 958, which would tighten spending limits on counties and cities in an effort to get it before the full legislature.
“This is an important issue,” Gloor tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We’ve talked to the Speaker about it and I think the Speaker will make sure a bill of this importance has its day.”
LB 958 also would limit increases in farmland property taxes. Initially, it would have capped increases at an aggregate of three percent. Gloor says he now is considering tying a limit to a five-year average, rather than a percentage.
Changes also have been suggested to insure the bill limits the growth of revenue for cities, counties, and school districts, but leaves out Natural Resource Districts, community colleges, and port authorities.
The second part of the two-prong approach, LB 959, is sponsored by Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, the Education Committee chairwoman. It would limit the ability of school districts to increase taxes. It has been undergoing change in committee as well.
Sullivan understands time is running out on the short 60-day session, now entering its 40th day.
Sullivan tells Nebraska Radio Network that right or wrong, it does seem that all the complex issues wait until the end of a legislative session. She says that might mean late nights and squeezing in executive committee sessions while the legislature is debating on the floor
“That’s just the way it is and that’s the life in the legislature.”
Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, contributed to this story.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]