Bills aim to ease property tax burden

Friday, January 15, 2016

During my time campaigning, and now serving in the Legislature, one of the concerns I heard most often was how property taxes have increased dramatically. Your concerns haven't fallen on deaf ears, and there have been several bills introduced this year to ease the property tax burden. Governor Ricketts said in his State of the State address last week that property taxes are one of his top priorities for 2016. The governor is supporting legislation in a joint effort along with Senators Gloor and Sullivan. LB958 by Senator Gloor which will cap ag land valuations across the state at a 3 percent increase and place tighter limits on levies and spending by local governments which is not approved by the voters. LB959 by Senator Sullivan will keep school districts from accumulating massive reserves and ensure that their levies and spending are responsible.

Several other bills have been introduced to ease what Senator Sullivan called "not only a burden, but a painful burden:" property taxes. Senator Groene's LB 717 would freeze property tax assessments for 2016 at their valuation for 2015. Senator Davis' LR 390 CA would introduce a constitutional amendment for the consideration of Nebraskans, which would require all Community Colleges to be funded by sales and income taxes, rather than by property taxes. Senator Davis also introduced LB 809, which would move $50 million from the general fund into the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund, putting more money back into the pockets of Nebraskans paying property taxes.

Another method to lightening the load of property taxes is in two bills introduced by Senator Scheer, both of which are designed to cut down on the impact of skyrocketing land values, even as tax rates remain the same or even fall, while keeping the education of our children funded. LB 883 would provide school districts with foundation aid from the state to replace additional income they would otherwise get from increased land valuation, while ensuring that no school district received less after passage of the bill than they would have otherwise. LB 882 would prohibit carryover of unused budget authority by districts while also preventing school districts from including cash reserves when calculating budgetary growth.

I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have. My email address is dhughes@leg.ne.gov and my phone number is (402) 471-2805. You can read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov, and you can click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.

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