Wonks

Nebraska political wonks (and you know who you are) can scarcely contain their jubilation over this week’s legislative agenda. In non-nerd terms, both the major tax bill and the appropriation bill will be debated back-to-back. Insert giddy emoji. Tune in Tuesday at 1:30pm for tax bill LB289, and Wednesday, 8:00am to potentially 11:59pm, to catch the Appropriations Committee defend their proposed biennial budget.

The time for action is past! Now is the time for senseless bickering! – Ashleigh Brilliant

To understand the property tax reform bill (LB289), we must first understand that K-12 education receives approximately $1.04 billion each year from state sales and income tax receipts. K-12 also receives about 60% of the local property taxes we pay on our homes, businesses and lands.

Senator Linehan, chair of the Revenue Committee, introduced, and worked her committee like a Detasseling Crew, to amended LB289, here. Simply put, LB289 replaces some K-12 funding from property taxes with new revenue from sales taxes. The formula is really not that easy, but a wonk would be delighted to call you at home. At the core, we are obligated to educate our kids, and too much of that obligation right now is placed on property tax payers.

Under LB289, state sales tax would grow from 5½¢ to 6¢. Sales tax would also be extended to some items currently exempt from sales tax like pop, candy, bottled water, motor vehicle repairs, ice, parking, maintenance, painting and repairs, etc. Property taxes would then be cut 15% to 40%. Generally, all K-12 schools would get more money under this plan, but The Whales like Omaha and Lincoln Public Schools don’t like the plan. Neither do those whose sales tax exemptions are on the line. Property owners…all together now…”We will, we will rock you.” Let the bickering begin.

The 268 page biennial budget, here, must be adopted by Day 80 (May 22) of the session. The Appropriations Committee proposes a $9.348 billion biennial budget. The budget would grow 3.7% in FY2020 and 2.2% in FY2021, for a two-year average of 3.0%. It’s hard to say how long that squabble will last. First; it’s complicated. Second; few senators, outside the Appropriations Committee and a couple wonks, even understand it. Third; Ernie.

It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it. – George W. Bush

Watchlist

APPROVED BY THE GOVERNOR

  • LB57 Prohibits municipalities from adopting or enforcing ordinances/regulations that expressly or effectively prohibit the short-term rental of residential properties and restrict the ability of municipalities to regulate residential properties used as short-term rentals. The Tax Commissioner will enter into agreements with online hosting platforms and short-term rentals to permit the online housing platform to collect and remit applicable sales taxes on behalf of sellers or hotel operators otherwise required to collect such taxes for transactions consummated through the online hosting platform.
  • LB203 Amends the Music Licensing Act to add the owner of a multi-family dwelling to the definition of “proprietor.” Apartment common areas (lobby, clubhouse, fitness center) are included in the Act.

 

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