“Another difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time the legislature meets.” – Robert Quillen, Lincoln Star (NE), 4/6/1931.
2016 was supposed to be the year. After too many years of exhausting legislative studies; bloviate speeches at statewide public hearings and listening tours; innumerable failed tax reduction bills; and aggressive tax reduction proposals by two governors, this was supposed to be the year of meaningful property tax relief. This was supposed to be the year! Especially for agricultural landowners who have seen their property taxes skyrocket over the past decade.
The legislative session opened with great expectation as a host of property tax reduction bills were filed by rural senators. Governor Ricketts then fired salvos across the Legislature’s bow with two very serious measures, LB958 and LB959, to restrict the budgets and spending of property tax dollars by cities, counties, schools and other local public entities. There was confidence the Revenue Committee and the Education Committee would, at very long last, be bold. They would craft a tax reform package worthy of their charter.
With the stage finally set, stakeholders were writhe with anticipation. Lights – check! Camera – check! Draw the curtain – check! Action – choke! Call it stage fright, call it lack of will, or call it timidity, senators did not answer the call once again, and fell immeasurably short of relevant tax reform. Oh, they advanced the Governor’s LB958 and LB959, for which they will claim victory and adjourn for the year. Regrettably, both bills are so severely amended and indignantly stripped of meaning that this victory is as hollow as The Sower’s brass head.
Taxpayers are weary of next year politics. Taxpayers are weary of claims by politicians that property taxes are their #1 priority. Taxpayers are frankly weary of being weary. This was going to be the year, not another wait until next year, year.
Be aware, you hollow-headed Sower, the weary are meeting in kitchens and coffee shops and boardrooms across the state. They are far more coalesced than you expect, and they understand that legislative action is not their only vehicle for property tax relief. Who knows? Next year may indeed be the year!
- LB806 – Creates a Riverfront Development Authority – Died on General File
- LB821 – Workplace Privacy Act – Advanced to Final Reading.
- LB884 – Convention Center Financing Act – Advanced to Final Reading.
- LB958 – Property Tax Relief – Advanced to Final Reading.
- LB959 – Public Education Funding – Advanced to Final Reading.
- LB1105 – Liquor licensing – On Final Reading.