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It is such a blessing to live in this amazing country and the great state of Nebraska. I am thankful for our freedoms and for those who protect them. Have a safe and happy Independence Day!
I have really enjoyed getting out to local events the past few weeks to meet with constituents and community leaders. It was also a pleasure to attend the Nebraska GOP State Convention in Nebraska City. On June 12th, I was happy to join South Sioux City in welcoming the Husker Nation Tour featuring UNL Athletic Director Bill Moos and UNL Football coaching staff. It was exciting to spend time with fellow fans to learn about and get ready for the upcoming football season with Coach Frost.
Nebraska’s residential and agricultural land property taxes are remarkably higher than our six closest neighbors, and school funding has been closely tied to property taxes since the creation of the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA). Created in 1990, TEEOSA calculates the expected sources of school funding for each school district based on the schools’ needs and existing resources. Legislative changes to TEEOSA during years in which revenue fell combined with rapidly increasing property valuations caused an overreliance on property taxes as the major source for school funding. Nebraska outspends our neighboring states in per-student funding, yet produces similar, or sometimes worse, educational outcomes. It is important that we examine why is costs Nebraska considerably more to educate our children than neighboring states and the effect that has on our property tax rates.
Last Friday, Senator Mike Groene, Chair of the Education Committee, held a press conference to announce the formation of the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA): School Funding Legislative Study Group that is set to meet during the interim. The Study Group includes a diverse range of senators from across Nebraska; Tom Brewer (LD 43), Mike Hilgers (LD 21), Brett Lindstrom (LD 18), Lou Ann Linehan (LD 39), Jim Scheer (LD 19), Tom Briese (LD 41), Curt Friesen (34), Suzanne Geist (25), and Justin Wayne (LD 13) in addition to Senator Groene (LD 42). Senator Groene described the Study Groups plans as a three-pronged approach:
“1. Study the history of TEEOSA to understand where we are and where we started. This will include understanding changes made over the years leading to the current formula, comparing public education funding of neighboring states and across the nation, looking at TEEOSA allowable spending growth factors, and studying factors causing the funding shift to property taxes (i.e. property valuations and property tax diversion programs such as Tax Increment Financing, Homestead Exemptions, low income housing exemptions, etc.).
As the third prong indicated, the end goal of the study is an introduction of a single 2019 legislative bill addressing the TEEOSA revenue flaw that puts equity back into school funding and can garner the support of the full Legislature.”
As property tax relief continues to be my number one priority in the Legislature, I am hopeful that this bi-partisan group will bring a dynamic discussion to the legislature and viable solutions to correct school funding and rising property taxes. I am excited to work on legislation with my colleagues.
I want to encourage my constituents to reach out to me, I look forward to hearing from you!
Senator Joni Albrecht
State Capitol, Room 2010
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604