LINCOLN, NEB. – Leaders of Nebraska agriculture organizations who represent tens of thousands of Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and livestock feeders have come together to outline principles to guide actions on comprehensive tax reform for Nebraska. The principles are targeted at addressing Nebraska’s current tax system, which has led to an imbalance and overreliance on property taxes to fund government services, said Dennis Fujan, president of the Nebraska Soybean Association, Jan. 10.
“With the legislature convening, it’s important we collectively share where we believe the discussion on tax reform needs to go. Our principles provide parameters for the critical discussions that need to take place this session,” said Fujan. “It’s also important Nebraskans know we believe tax reform should benefit all Nebraska property taxpayers, including Nebraska homeowners and businesses.”
The Agriculture Leaders Working Group which developed the principles, include member-elected leaders from the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, and the Nebraska State Dairy Association. The group has been meeting for several months to discuss priority issues for Nebraska agriculture, specifically tax reform and property taxes.
The Agriculture Leaders Working Group principles for tax reform state:
- Tax reform, whether through legislation or ballot initiative, should seek a more balanced tax system to fund government services and education and benefit all property owners, including agriculture, residential, and commercial property. Collections from property, sales, and income taxes shall share the burden with none of the three individually exceeding 35 percent of the tax liability.
- Agricultural property owners currently pay a disproportional amount of the total property tax liability. All future property tax relief produced at the state level must seek to reduce this proportional share.
- Tax reform should encourage fiscal responsibility and be revenue neutral. Actions to achieve such measures may include new tax sources or modify existing revenue sources to provide dollar for dollar reductions in property taxes.
- Reform must ensure adequate funding for high quality education for Nebraska students, but reduce the reliance on property taxes for educational funding.
- Tax reform must provide fiscal restraint in government spending, including budget growth limitations.
“With property taxes comprising 48 percent of the combined collections of property taxes, state sales tax, and state income tax, it is critical we work to re-balance the tax burden in a way that benefits all Nebraskans. These principles will move us in that direction,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.
While members of the Agriculture Leaders Working Group organized to identify ways to work together on issues across both crop and livestock sectors, it became apparent in discussions that property taxes and tax reform is the top issue.
“Property tax and the need for tax reform has been at the forefront of every conversation we’ve had. It’s time fixing this issue moved to the front of the Legislature’s “to do” list. We’re committed to working with the governor, the Legislature and others to make it a reality,” said Troy Stowater, Nebraska Cattlemen president.
Those participating in the Agriculture Leaders Working Group include:
Troy Stowater – Nebraska Cattlemen, president
Galen Frenzen – Nebraska Cattlemen, president-elect
Dan Wesely – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, president
Steve Ebke – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, past president
Steve Nelson – Nebraska Farm Bureau, president
Mark McHargue – Nebraska Farm Bureau, first vice president
Russ Vering – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, president
Darin Uhlir – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Kevin Peterson – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Dennis Fujan – Nebraska Soybean Association, president
Dwaine Junck – Nebraska State Dairy Association, vice president
Doug Temme – Nebraska State Dairy Association, past president