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The level of activity around the Capitol this summer is much less than when the Legislature is in session, affording me time to touch base with District 30 constituents, meet with other individual Senators, and attend events. I expanded my knowledge through attending the Education Commission of the States in June, and the National Conference of State Legislatures in early August. Starting this month extending into the fall, there will be some hearings on interim studies and other committee work.
The desire for property tax relief remains on the forefront. That is an issue that constituents raise with me frequently. The State Legislature cannot directly lower property taxes, since there has been no State property taxes in Nebraska since a successful initiative petition in 1966. Thus, property taxes are levied only by local governments in Nebraska. The 2015 Legislature did, however, add another $60 million plus for property tax credits.
Beginning with fiscal year 2001-02, the State of Nebraska experienced revenue difficulties, and over the next several years, more of the tax burden was shifted to local communities. One action the Legislature will consider in 2016 is restoring more State Aid to local governments, which would enable local governments and school districts to reduce local property tax requests accordingly. I am a member of the Education Committee which is scheduled to meet jointly with the Revenue Committee this fall, the first meeting being on August 27. It is my hope that agreement can be reached to increase State funding to school districts, with the requirement that local school districts lower their property tax requests proportionately. There is no simple solution on how to do that equitably.
Ag land owners are particularly feeling the pinch of property taxes, as land values in many areas of the State have more than doubled in the past six years. Dealing with that issue may be difficult as the number of urban senators outnumber that of rural senators.
Please feel free to contact me at the Capitol. Stop in, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call my office, (402)471-2620. We will soon begin periodically sending out updates through email. Contact my office if you would like to be included on the emailing list.