The Nebraska legislature wrapped up its 2017 session this week without enacting the promised reforms to the state’s property tax structure.
Troy Stowater, president of the Nebraska Cattlemen Association, says he’s particularly disappointed as he believes the state’s agricultural producers bear the brunt of the burden from property taxes.
“I was hopeful that our senators in this last legislative session would have seen the importance of modifying our current situation,” Stowater says. “We’re not very competitive with our surrounding states and it’s a real big challenge for our farmers.”
He’s also disappointed lawmakers don’t seem to comprehend the significant impact high property taxes are having on farmers and ranchers.
“At times, I really, seriously doubt whether they understand that our largest industry is ag,” Stowater says. “When we put our largest industry at a disadvantage, we put our state at a disadvantage.”
The first step in providing property tax relief is to make significant cuts in state spending and Stowater says state government does need to become more efficient.
“We’re not very efficient and we’ve had a governor the last three years who’s taken some real steps to add some efficiency to our state government,” Stowater says. “We’ve got to get a bigger bang for our dollar. Not only do we have high property taxes in the state of Nebraska, but we’ve got high income tax and we’re not on the low end on sales tax.”
State Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard is already looking to next session for a property tax solution. Erdman says he’ll introduce a constitutional amendment next year to lower property taxes and if it doesn’t pass, he’ll launch a statewide ballot initiative for the vote in November of 2018.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton