A state senator carrying the governor’s tax relief package believes he has the votes to overcome a filibuster and move the legislation.
Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion says he feels confident he has 33 votes to break a filibuster and force a vote on the bill.
He feels less confident he can address concerns voiced by rural senators about the impact of steeply rising property taxes on Nebraska farmers and ranchers.
“Look, I don’t think I can alleviate those concerns, because we don’t have the money available today to do everything that they desire,” Smith tells reporters.
Smith contends it would take a broader, more comprehensive approach to address the reliance on property taxes to fund local governmental services in Nebraska, including public schools.
“We need to look beyond this (LB 461),” Smith says. “We need to look at education funding. We need to look at creating the certainty in education funding that provides more relief for rural school districts or rural areas of the state.”
Smith says his bill would spur economic growth in Nebraska, which would help all sectors, both urban and rural.
Still, Smith is working on provisions to entice rural senators to support his bill. An amendment would add $20 million to the Property Tax Credit Fund any year in which state revenue is projected to grow by 4.5%.
Much of LB 461 contains tax relief proposals advocated by Gov. Pete Ricketts. Ricketts proposes cutting the top individual income tax rate by one percent, incrementally. A tenth of a percent would be shaved off the rate each year state revenue is projected to grow by 3.5%. Eventually, the top rate would be lowered from the current 6.84% to 5.99%.
Corporate taxes would be cut if state revenue is projected to grow by 4%. LB 461 also would increase the earned income tax credit designed to help low-income families.
The measure would change the valuation method used to asses agricultural land for property tax purposes from the current market-based method to one based on the income potential of the land.
Legislators debated the bill for three hours on Friday without taking a vote. If LB 461 is to return to the floor for further debate, Smith will have to convince Sen. Jim Scheer he has the 33 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster and advance the bill.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]