The first of Gov. Pete Ricketts’ two property tax relief bills has advanced in the legislature.
The sponsor of LB 959, Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, tells colleagues the education bill has changed since first filed.
“Is it perfection? Well, hardly. Are there some solutions? Partly.”
Sullivan asserts the bill is not just a property tax relief measure, but also good education policy. It intends to slow property tax increases to fund schools, increasing state aid to some school districts by $8.5 million, mainly to rural school districts.
Still, several rural legislators complain about the sharp increases in property taxes on farmland.
Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson says taxes on agricultural property in Nebraska have skyrocketed.
“And I don’t think there is any industry or any group or any other entity in this state that has seen their taxes average this kind of increase,” according to Friesen. “It is unsustainable.”
Other rural lawmakers say the bill falls short of the property tax relief needed, but is a step in the right direction.
LB 959 eliminates the minimum levy adjustment and reduces the incentive for school districts to keep levies at a certain level simply to draw down more state aid.
Sullivan assures colleagues no school district loses money under the bill.
The bill restricts the use of a special fund to deal with emergency capital projects as well.
The bill advances on a 38-0 vote.
Gov. Pete Ricketts approves.
“I will sign this bill when it gets to me,” Ricketts tells reporters during a news conference. “I mean, it’s important that we work forward to continue to get property tax relief, assuming it’s in the form that it is right now.”
Legislators could debate the companion measure, LB 958, today.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:55]