Gov. Pete Ricketts’ property tax relief package, his top priority this legislative session, is on the verge of passing in the Unicameral, though it has undergone change.
A two-prong approach to property tax relief is ready for passage in these last days of the legislative session.
Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island had to strip LB 958 of provisions that would restrict revenue increases by local governments. A last-minute attempt to address the increase in some community college budgets due to increase agricultural property values was also stripped by Gloor, fulfilling a promise he made to fellow senators during first-round debate.
“Taking that out was part of what we talked about on General File and we agreed to do that,” Gloor tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We lowered the property tax credit from 30-to-20 to address concerns about the upcoming budget that has to be put together next year.”
A bill to repress the need for local governments to raise property taxes and deliver $30 million in property tax relief for farmers and ranchers has become a bill to provide an added $20 million in property tax credits to agriculture. Gloor is quick to point out that $20 million will be added to $204 million dollars in property tax credits already offered.
Gloor’s bill had little trouble passing after a prolonged debate on LB 959 the day before that got caught up in an extended debate on changes to Omaha’s Learning Community.
Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, the sponsor of LB 959, says the three bills became intertwined, but once the troubling aspects of the bills were worked out by legislators, they sailed through and now are ready for final passage.
Sullivan says the bill removes criteria from the school funding formula that gave some districts an excuse to keep their local levy higher than needed.
“Again, to make school boards and school districts a little more accountable to how they spend the taxpayer dollar,” according to Sullivan.
The bill provides $8.5 million in additional state money to school districts that do not receive state funding, many in rural Nebraska.
The Unicameral meets today and tomorrow with the final day of this legislative session scheduled for next Wednesday, the 20th.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]