A state senator who threatened to take property tax relief directly to the voters if legislators failed to act plans to make good on that threat.
Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard held a news conference after the last day of the legislative session last year. He said if the legislature failed to address high property taxes, he would mount a petition drive to place the issue on the ballot.
“I feel very similar this year to last year,” Erdman tells Nebraska Radio Network. “I’m confident that the voters of Nebraska understand the problem is property tax and they will sign the petition and we’ll get it on the ballot in November and it will pass.”
An initiative petition is underway by the group Yes to Property Tax Relief. If enough signatures are gathered, Nebraska voters will decide a property tax proposal.
The ballot proposal is essentially Legislative Bill 829 sponsored by Erdman. The measure remained stuck in committee as the Revenue Committee advanced only LB 947, backed by Gov. Pete Ricketts.
LB 829 proposes to give property owners a refundable income tax credit equal to half of the property taxes collected by their local school district. It would in effect be a 30% cut in property taxes. It would total nearly $1.2 billion.
Critics contend the state cannot handle that big a hit to the $8.8 billion state budget.
“Well, I say to them, how did we deal with a billion-dollar loss in our deficit last year? We dealt with it and we’ll do it again,” Erdman says.
The Unicameral has nearly completely the current 60-day session. Legislators return Wednesday afternoon to wrap up business. They have one last chance to address property taxes, though. Erdman is one of 13 senators calling for a special session to deal with property taxes. It takes 33 of the 49 senators to agree to return for a special session to be called.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]