After failing to enact major state property tax reform in the 2017 legislative session, Governor Pete Ricketts is planning to launch another attempt in the Unicameral come January.
Property tax relief is also a goal for the state’s farm groups, especially with the still-low commodity prices. Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley says the issue is important to agriculture and the entire state needs a workable solution.
“Everywhere we travel across the state, we’re hearing the same message: You’ve gotta’ do something about property taxes,” Foley says. “The governor’s got a proposal that’s got some traction behind it that would completely scrap the sales comparison technique of valuing agricultural lands and move into an income production technique of valuing those lands. This is what the farmers are telling us they want.”
Foley says it’s unfortunate a property tax plan couldn’t be crafted that would garner the support of agricultural groups and pass the legislature, but they’ll try again in 2018.
“Some of the major agricultural states have done this already, Nebraska needs to do this as well,” Foley says. “We had the bill on the floor of the legislature last year. It got 28 votes. It was subject to a filibuster which required us to find 33 votes. We didn’t quite get there but we’re going to come right back at that issue in this next session of the legislature and see if we can bring some meaningful property tax relief for our farmers and our ranchers.”
Foley notes that another priority for the governor will be to select a new director of agriculture to replace Greg Ibach as he’s likely to soon be confirmed as an undersecretary at the USDA.
“I’m sure the governor’s already thinking about it,” Foley says. “He hasn’t named who that would be, it’s premature to do that, but we’ll get somebody really high quality to take over that agency. It’s a very important agency for our state government and the governor realizes that. He’ll find an outstanding person to fill some big shoes that Greg will leave behind.”
Ibach was nominated by President Trump to be undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. He’s been Nebraska’s ag director for 12 years.
The lieutenant governor says they’re excited to have such good Midwestern representation in USDA with Ibach and several other nominees from our region.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton