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It was no secret: achieving property tax relief was the #1 priority for this session. Though a comprehensive tax relief plan fell short, we made some positive first steps and set ourselves up to make greater progress in 2020.
Although the major tax reform proposals came up short this year, property taxpayers did not walk away empty handed. $550 million in property tax relief was designated in the state’s budget for the biennium. This money is designated for the “Property Tax Credit Fund” and represents a record designation in the state’s budget for property tax relief.
LB 103 also passed, which automatically reduces levies of local taxing entities as valuations increase. In other words, if valuations increased 20% over a given year, the corresponding levies would decrease by 20%. The elected board of those taxing entities could still vote to raise the levy, but must have a vote. This means that local taxing entities could not take more money from property taxpayers without voting to do so. As property valuations spiked over the last decade, some local bodies argued that they had achieved “property tax relief” by dropping the levies. However, if the levy is only dropped by 10% when valuations have gone up by 35%, property taxpayers were still paying more money to that entity. LB 103 is a strong first step towards property tax transparency and passed early in session.
In addition, the Legislature has postured itself for a united front to achieve property tax relief and a new business incentive package in 2020. The Revenue Committee will be meeting before July 1 to coordinate a plan for the interim. Setting next year apart from years past is the unique opportunity for rural and urban senators to come around the table, together, to negotiate critical issues in their districts: property taxes and business incentives. I’m optimistic we’ll avoid a log jam of property tax proposals, like what happened this year, and have a joint solution for those two major issues ready for floor debate early on in the 2020 session. We’re not starting from scratch on either issue and have tested the water with votes. Both solutions will require 33 votes to advance, and for the next six months, we have the perfect opportunity to negotiate.
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates or contact me directly at: Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.