LINCOLN, NEB. – Elected leaders of Nebraska’s agricultural organizations thanked members of the Legislature’s Revenue, Education, and Retirement Committees for their efforts to find a solution to high property taxes in Nebraska, but urged lawmakers to avoid repurposing dollars from the state’s Property Tax Credit Fund as a means to fund the Revenue Committee’s new property tax relief proposal. The request was made in testimony during an April 24 hearing on an amendment to the Revenue Committee’s LB 289.
Ken Herz, a rancher from Lawrence, provided testimony on behalf of the Agriculture Leaders Working Group representing the member-elected leaders from the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, Nebraska State Dairy Association, and Nebraska Wheat Growers Association.
The Property Tax Credit Fund is a state fund that provides $224 million in property tax relief to Nebraska taxpayers on an annual basis. The amendment to LB 289 would take the $224 million from the Property Tax Credit Fund and use it to help pay for a new Revenue Committee proposal estimated to provide an additional $412 million in property tax relief above and beyond the $224 million delivered through the Property Tax Credit Fund. The Revenue Committee’s amendment to LB 289 would lower valuations for commercial, residential, and agricultural lands, provide foundation aid to schools, provide for a minimum state aid guarantee based on a school’s needs in the state aid formula, and lower the local effort rate for schools, among other provisions.
In urging the committees to leave the Property Tax Credit Fund intact, the Agriculture Leaders asked the committees to look at alternative ways to fund the Revenue Committee’s new property tax relief proposal, noting the amendment already included provisions to increase the state’s sales tax rate and to broaden the state’s sales tax base by eliminating sales tax exemptions.
The Agriculture Leaders continues to offer support for both increasing the state sales tax rate and broadening the sales tax base as a way to offset property tax reductions and provide a means for the state to take on greater financial responsibility for providing state funding to all of Nebraska’s K-12 schools.