Newsletter, June 7, 2013
The One Hundred Third Legislature, First Session was gaveled into history at 3:02 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5. It was a session packed with monumental issues including tax reform, state aid to schools and Medicaid expansion.
At the end of last week, the Legislature passed LR 155, Senator Ernie Chambers’ resolution creating the Tax Modernization Committee to review and recommend updates to Nebraska’s tax code.
LR 155 directs the committee to consider fairness, competitiveness, simplicity and compliance, stability, adequacy and complementary tax systems as it evaluates Nebraska’s current tax code.
Revenue Committee Chair Galen Hadley will lead the committee which includes the members of the revenue committee, the chairpersons of the appropriations, education, health and human services, and planning committees and two freshman senators appointed by the Executive Board.
Since I chair the Education Committee and serve on the Revenue Committee, I will be deeply involved in the tax study. Our first organizational meeting was held June 3. Although final plans are still being formulated, we know that we will begin in early July with an in-depth educational briefing on Nebraska’s tax system. Senator Hadley has also announced that he plans to break the 14 member committee down into subcommittees on income, sales and property taxes to focus on each tax area.
There are many differing opinions about the goals of the tax study. Some, including the Governor, believe that the committee’s goal should be reducing or eliminating taxes. Others believe that our goal is to come up with the best and most equitable tax system, one that is stable and generates adequate revenue to support state government functions. I strongly believe that as members of the committee, we need to be open-minded in our approach and keep in mind that for every action there is a reaction. If lower state taxes are what people want, what state services are they willing to forgo?
In late summer, the Tax Modernization Committee will hold hearings across the state to gather public input. I strongly encourage you to attend and participate in this very important discussion. The committee’s work is to be completed by December 15, 2013. It looks to be a Herculean task!
The Education Committee is conducting an in-depth study of public school financing. LR 182 will coordinate with the work of the Tax Modernization Committee as we look into the issues of financing, costs, and delivery of public early childhood, elementary, and secondary education in Nebraska.
Which brings me to the interim. Once the legislative session is over, I’ll be back home. Although I’ll be spending time in Lincoln this summer and fall due to the interim studies, I will also be traveling District 41. My summer schedule is filled with community celebrations, county fairs, community meetings and other functions. I look forward to seeing you in your communities this summer.
This is my last newsletter for the 2013 legislative session. My legislative office is open regular business hours during the interim. If you have questions about this newsletter, please call my legislative office at (402) 471-2631; write to me c/o P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you write or email, please include your full name and mailing address.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving as your State Senator. It’s a great honor and responsibility. Have a great summer!