Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell, chair of the Legislative Performance Audit Committee, brings LB 936 to the floor for debate.
“Essentially, this bill is designed to help the legislature get better information about tax incentive evaluations and encourage members to provide their input and opinions on the matter,” Kuehn tells legislators in his opening.
Little encourage was needed for legislators to share their opinions.
Several lawmakers questioned whether the state receives an adequate return on the investment it makes in tax breaks for businesses.
Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln claims the top tax incentive, Nebraska Advantage, too often subsidizes jobs which don’t pay a living way, telling colleagues the state doesn’t need more jobs, it needs better paying jobs.
Nebraska Advantage has come under special scrutiny from legislators. It has grown from providing $153 million in tax breaks to a total of $270 million in 2016. It is projected to grow to $1.46 billion in 2021.
Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus says Nebraska Advantage hasn’t live up to expectations, because it hasn’t created the type of jobs the state needs and has been a drain on state revenue; a drain Schumacher says will continue well into the future.
Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard appreciates more study, but questions whether scrutiny will lead to action.
“It is amazing what we do here,” Erdman tells colleagues. “We get reports. We read those reports and we do absolutely squat with them.”
Legislators have advanced the bill to the next round of debate. The bill would amend the Legislative Performance Audit Act to extend the audit schedule and clarify some language in the report as well as provide improved measures to evaluate tax incentives.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]