I sympathize with Sen. Linehan in her efforts to put a property tax relief bill across the finish line. As I read her comments in Monday’s Independent, it brought back not so pleasant memories of my own struggle with the school lobby during my term as chair of the Legislature’s Education Committee.
Make no mistake, the lobbyists working for schools, big and small, are a powerful force. They exert tremendous and constant pressure on the senators. Sen. Linehan’s remarks about hearing just “no, no, no” ring very true. I was beyond frustration after numerous tries at communication and compromise to get a school funding bill passed. You’d only have to read the transcript of that day in the Legislature to see how I vented my frustration. We did get a bill passed but the memories remain.
I know school administrators and the lobbyists they hire are only doing their jobs. They want education to be supported and adequately funded in this state. But my message today is to the taxpayers of this state who so desperately want (and should receive) property tax relief. Remember that all property tax is local. If the roadblock to the current legislation are the school officials, perhaps it’s time for you, as a taxpayer to talk to those school officials. You pay their salaries, after all. Talk to your school board representatives.
I don’t doubt that every taxpayer in this state wants a good education for our children. But there’s a balance to be had. Both sides need to give on this matter, because at the end of the day we’ve been at this long enough. It’s time to give real property tax relief to Nebraskans.