Gov. Pete Ricketts hasn’t been able to get a comprehensive property tax proposal through the legislature, but remains optimistic as he begins work with a new legislature.
Ricketts says property tax relief remains his top priority, adding he’s ready to work with a legislature which added 13 new members.
“So, certainly this is a different legislature, because you have different skill sets,” Ricketts tells reporters. “Every legislature is different and part of the process of learning to work together is figuring how to best leverage everybody’s skills.”
It is a legislature many perceive as having a different ideology than previous legislatures.
“I think it’s too early to tell on that,” according to Ricketts. “Again, some of the things that we work on are not ideological. When we’re talking about growing Nebraska and creating more job opportunities that’s not a partisan issue. We may disagree on how to approach it, but that’s part of the process of learning to work together.”
Ricketts has been able to get modest property tax relief through the legislature, such as adding money to the state property tax relief fund. Larger, comprehensive property tax relief has eluded him. Proposals have hit the floor of the Unicameral only to fail to attract the 33 votes from the 49-senator chamber needed to end a filibuster and go to a vote.
Ricketts says he’s willing to work with legislators on a plan which could make it through the session, though adamant that he will not support legislation which would shift the tax burden. Lawmakers in the past have proposed increasing the sales tax in a shift away from depending so heavily on property tax revenue.
Another problem compounds the difficulty of the issue. Property taxes are levied on the local level, making it tougher for legislators to address the issue on a state-level basis.
The long, 90-day legislative session opened on Wednesday.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]