State lawmakers approved property tax relief this session, but resisted calls to restrict revenue growth at the local level.
State Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids says her bill, LB 959, should lift the burden of property taxes a bit while making sound school funding changes. It first sought to restrict the growth of revenue on the local school district level.
“Well, I think one thing that comes to my mind, judging from I guess I have to say the push back that we received in the education circles, they were quick to say education spending is not the culprit here,” Sullivan tells reporters during a news conference.
Still, the bill tightens regulations under which money can be used for emergency capital expenses.
Sullivan says that might provide insight on how restrictions can be imposed; targeted and limited.
LB 959 provides an additional $8.5 million to school districts which haven’t received state funding in the past, which should take pressure off those districts’ levies.
Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island abandoned restricting local governmental revenue growth in LB 958 in favor of a simplified proposal to provide an additional $20 million in tax credits for farmland.
“Certainly, change as they say has many enemies and few friends and that finds its way into the legislative debate,” according to Gloor.
Even a last ditch effort to control spending by community colleges, some of which have benefitted greatly by increased farmland assessments, failed to make it through the process.
Gloor says the Unicameral needs to discuss spending each year, adding that the discussion this year has at least put local governmental officials on notice that their spending habits are under scrutiny.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:55]