Today is a big day. Even though Speaker Jim Scheer instituted a rule that required all legislation to attain the 33 votes necessary to pass cloture, he is bringing back LB461, which failed to generated this support 11 days ago.
LB461 provides little to no property tax relief for home, business, and agricultural property owners in Nebraska. In fact, it totally leaves out any kind of relief from home and business property owners who saw increases of 35 and 49 percent over the past decade. It does provide minimal relief for agricultural property owners, but every farm group in Nebraska opposes it because it does not provide the relief that is needed.
LB461 should not be supported because it has misplaced priorities. This bill, which was introduced by Senator Jim Smith and is supported by Governor Pete Ricketts, provides $10 of income tax cuts for every $1 of property tax relief. A newly released poll by Reform for Nebraska’s Future yesterday proves that an overwhelming number of Nebraskans say that property tax reform is a higher priority as compared to income tax cuts – by a 2 ½ to 1 margin in fact. And 72 percent of Nebraskans are more likely to support politicians that delivery property tax reform.
Based off of this poll, Nebraskans support property tax reform and say that legislators need to deliver. This sentiment spans all age demographics, gender, party affiliation, and across every region of the state – urban and rural as well as north, south, east, and west.
This legislation has been opposed by both the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World Herald, Nebraska’s two major newspapers, because there are too many questions still unanswered and because the property tax relief provided is minimal. Even the officials who will be charged with assessing property say that this bill will have little impact. Cedar County’s Assessor, Donald Hoesing when asked about LB461 said, “If they change how we value it and say the value goes down, the tax request doesn’t go down as well. The taxes will remain the same. The levy will be adjusted.”
Barring major changes that put overwhelming emphasis on property tax relief, LB461 should not be supported. Today’s vote has a significant impact on the possibility of ever achieving meaningful property tax reform as the Nebraska people want. Reform for Nebraska’s Future will be watching the vote closely and plans to make this an election issue. A vote for cloture is a vote and against property tax reform.