Gang of Eight
As Governor Ricketts and local health departments begin to relax restrictions on social interaction tomorrow, some legislators are eager to wrap-up this legislative session. We know that Speaker Scheer intends to drop the hammer when he does reconvene the body and work those grossly underpaid government servants six days a week. Early money is on late June.
Speaker Scheer has assembled his very own Gang of Eight. He chose senators from the Appropriations and Revenue Committees to craft a way to yes on this session’s three most pressing issues: property tax relief, business incentives (ImagiNE Act), and the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s expansion (NExT). Kudos, Mr. Speaker.
Revenue Committee members are Senators Linehan (Elkhorn / Chair), Briese (Albion), Crawford (Bellevue), and Kolterman (Seward). Appropriations Committee members include Senators Stinner (Gering / Chair), McDonnell (Omaha), Bolz (Lincoln), and Dorn (Adams). To a person, these senators are pragmatic and able negotiators. They face a heavy lift.
- Significant property tax relief has eluded homeowners, commercial businesses, and farmers for a decade. Through the years, minor increases in the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund have turned few heads as significant relief means reducing all property taxes in the range of $250-$500 million a year. K-12 education has a vested interest in keeping property taxes a stable funding source for schools, and they have the ear of many senators.
- The annual $125 million ImagiNE Act stalled last year because several issues were not defined, including an annual cap on spending and a constitutional question regarding the violation of the separation of powers provision. As the matter stands, senators who would rather have lower property taxes than business incentives have stalled the bill.
- A $300 million one-time funding initiative for the UNMC’s NExT expansion project is the least controversial issue of the three. Senators generally support the bill. However, given the unexpected COVID-19 drain on federal funds, the question must be asked, “How committed is the federal government to funding its share of the NExT project?”
God speed, Gang of Eight!
LB187 SUPPORT (Hilkeman)
- Adds two new definitions to an eligible sports arena facility to the Sports Arena Facility Financing Assistance Act.
- Any sports complex which includes concession areas, parking facilities and onsite administrative offices connected with operating the sports complex.
- A multipurpose field meaning a rectangular field of grass or synthetic turf which is primarily used for competitive field sports, that may include soccer, football, flag football, lacrosse or rugby.
- The bill repeals the occupancy requirement to receive a turn back of sales tax and replaces occupancy with project completion date.
LB1084 (Kolterman) MONITOR
- The Nebraska Transformational Project Act would provide $300 million in state funding to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for their NExT Project.
- NExT Project has two components: a state of the art academic medical center facility and a federal all-hazard disaster response military and civilian partnership.
- UNMC must show an economic impact to Nebraska of at least $2.7 billion during the planning and construction period and at least $4.9 billion over ten years.
FAILED TO ADVANCE
LB974 MONITOR (Linehan) REVENUE COMMITTEE PRIORITY BILL
- This is a complex property tax and school funding bill. As amended by AM2433, the bill would reduce property taxes as a major source of funding for K-12 education.
- Real property would be valued at 95% of actual value for tax year 2020.
- In tax year 2021, real property would be valued at 91%of actual value.
- In tax year 2022, and thereafter, real property would be valued at 86% of actual value.