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Tax plan a step in the right it is a tough sell
We agree with Omaha Sen. Lou Ann Linehan that the Revenue Committee’s tax plan is a step in the right direction,
With the sluggish farm economy sunk further by flooding in much of the state, this may be the year farmers and ranchers get a break on their property taxes, sharing an average 20 percent reduction in school property taxes, which are the largest component of property tax bills.
That would come about through an increase in state equalization aid to local school districts by about a third, from $1 billion to $1.5 billion a year, but that would result from an overall increase of the state sales tax from 5.5% to 6.25%, and elimination of sales tax exemptions on junk food, bottled water, storage, plumbing and repair services for heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.
That, and a hike in cigarette taxes from 64 cents a pack to $1 a pack, plus a 28-excise tax, will probably still bring Nebraska smokes in cheaper than those in Kansas, which sell for an average total of $5.89 a pack.
Gov. Ricketts, who opposes any plan that lowers one tax by raising another, took to a Lincoln gas station to campaign against higher cigarettes, candy and pop.
Many who buy such products at convenience stores have lower incomes, he argues, making the tax too regressive in nature.
It’s not unexpected to pay more at “convenience” stores, however, since most of us know that 24-hour convenience comes at a cost.
Some worry the package doesn’t do enough to help farmers whose land was valued when grain prices were much higher than they are today, and others worry the bill will leave local governments short of tax income.
Not everyone is always happy with any particular piece of legislation, especially a major one involving tax reform.
However, it’s good to see lawmakers this session at least make a serious effort.