Nebraska lawmakers will start debate next week on a bill that would change how agricultural land is valued for tax purposes. The bill also proposes an income tax rate reduction.
Former state Senator and Speaker Greg Adams of York is now executive director of the Nebraska Community College Association and he says the bill is a worry.
“It’s got everybody nervous,” Adams says. “Everybody’s nervous. It’s not just community colleges. It’s K-12, it’s everybody and right now it’s pretty hard to say what will happen to that bill.”
Adams says debate on the bill could end up with no resolution.
“There’s something for everybody to dislike in the bill and something that they might like in that bill,” Adams says, “so I cannot predict the outcome.”
Debate also looms on the mainline budget bill that will cover spending for the next two years. Typically, Adams says the budget bill is advanced to the floor on a unanimous vote, but this time, the Revenue Committee only voted 6-to-3 to advance it.
“This 6-to-3 split I think will only be demonstrative of the split that will occur in debate on the floor,” Adams says. “I don’t think this budget will be an easy sell.”
Under the current proposal, community college funding from state aid would be held flat in the first year of the two-year budget, then decline for the six community colleges by about one-million dollars for the second year.
“I think in this environment that we’re facing, if we can come away with that, we’ve had a pretty good year,” Adams says.
In his first year as head of the community college lobbying organization, Adams says he’s tracked about 40 pieces of legislation affecting the two-year-colleges. One stalled bill would end community colleges’ ability to levy property tax.
Adams describes this session as “a game of defense” for the association. He says most state senators see the value of community college education in Nebraska, but he says the property tax issue is weighing heavily on the Unicameral.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice