A state legislator says he’s working with several groups to get a property tax reduction measure on the 2018 ballot.
Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard says a recent poll of Nebraskans shows 83% believe the state’s property taxes are too high. Erdman says the only way to address the high taxes is to let the people have a voice.
“This valuation can’t continue to go like it is when the taxation from that valuation continues to rise,” Erdman says. “I don’t believe there’s any other method that’s going to accomplish this purpose and that’s the reason for my initiative and my intention to introduce a constitutional amendment in January to allow the legislature to vote on it and put it on the ballot so the people of Nebraska can have a chance to vote on their property tax.”
Erdman says they’re still putting the language together for the proposed measure and there are two main questions.
“How much property tax do we think is sufficient? And the second question is, how do we go about doing that?” Erdman says. “We’re in the process of doing that now. If we’re going to go through the trouble it takes to get this done, we need to make sure it’s significant because we’re only going to get one shot at it.”
Erdman says the language must be simple and straightforward so voters can understand it. He says when the Nebraska legislature originally put the school funding formula together, it intended for revenue to come from one-third each sales, property and income taxes. Now he says that’s unbalanced.
“That three-legged stool is broken and there’s about 48% of that funding comes from property tax and that amount of taxation that exceeds what it needs to be to have that stool balance is about a billion dollars,” Erdman says. “Now, I don’t know if that billion dollars is what we’re going to seek or not, but we have to make sure that it’s significant.”
Erdman says while farmers and ranchers have been saddled with high property taxes for the last 10 to 12 years, now residential homeowners are starting to see their property taxes rise, too, so it’s the opportune time to move ahead with this measure.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton