A state senator proposes providing property tax relief by giving a rebate on a portion of the property tax which pays for public schools.
Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard proposes giving an income tax credit or refund on half the property tax paid which funds public education.
Erdman acknowledges his plan would call for deeper budget cuts than the $137 million made during past legislative session when the Unicameral crafted the biennial state budget.
“One hundred thirty-seven million dollars when you have a $1.1 billion shortfall doesn’t in my opinion look like you’ve done much,” Erdman tells Coby Mack, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Erdman explains his proposal with a simple illustration. In a typical property tax distribution, approximately 60% of the bill goes toward funding public schools. A property owner with a $10,000 property tax bill would generally pay $6,000 to fund public education. Under the Erdman proposal, that property owner would receive a refund or tax credit totaling $3,000.
The proposal calls for no cut in public education funding, so the Unicameral would have to make up the difference of approximately $1 billion.
Erdman proposes a combination to make up the shortfall, including deeper budget cuts. He also says the state needs to remove many of the sales tax exemptions it has granted over the years and greatly scale back tax incentives offered to businesses.
Erdman has stated previously that if the legislature fails to act on property tax relief, proponents would take the issue directly to the voters in the 2018 elections.
He says a group is ready to mount an effort to place the issue on the ballot. He is ready to take it to lawmakers.
“My goal is to introduce this resolution to the body,” Erdman says. “It would be great if we could get it passed through the body we wouldn’t have to continue and get the 85,000 signatures that we need (to place it on the ballot). But, I’m not naïve. I don’t believe there’s the will in there to do it, but we’re going to find out. And we’ll find out who’s for property tax relief and who’s not.”