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As you would expect activity is picking up in the Legislature. This past week we passed LB 22 from the first round of debate, which is General File on to the second round which is Select File. Hopefully by the time you are reading this we will have passed it from Select File on to Final Reading. LB 22 is the budget bill that we need to pass in order to close the revenue short fall that must be met between now and June 30th, 2017. Unfortunately, we spent almost 8 hours debating LB22 in the first round and could face another 4 hours on Select File. Currently, we spend our mornings having floor debate and the afternoons in committee hearings listening to the proponents and the opponents of the various bills that have been introduced.
As you have heard from me on several occasions, I am going to talk again about property taxes. I am a co-sponsor of LB 312. This bill would expand the sales tax base and use the additional revenue to reduce the property tax burden for all Nebraska property tax payers. Currently, Nebraska has exempted nearly half of the goods and services that can have a sales tax applied. All of the things in LB 312 that would have sales tax applied to, are currently, or have in the past, been taxed in Nebraska or other states. The past ten years there has been a tremendous shift of the burden for funding education into the pockets of the property tax payer, especially the agricultural property owner. Because there has been little or no equalization aid coming to the majority of the school districts in the 44th District from the state, all of our funding has been local and hardly any state funds have been circulating in our rural economies. The more urban school districts are benefiting from their property tax dollars flowing and rippling through their local economies as well as state aid dollars. Whereas, we in more rural districts only have the option of our own property tax dollars flowing and rippling through our local economies. In 2015, the last year I have figures for, approximately 134 million dollars stayed in the urban school districts and was not distributed across the state to benefit our local economies. If you take that number times ten you can see why the urban economies are booming and most of us in rural Nebraska continue to struggle. And now, especially with commodity and livestock prices at depressed levels, we need to have at least some of those state aid dollars flowing through our rural economies. I hope this better explains why I am in favor of expanding the sales tax base for property tax relief. I have seen some posts and comments that I believe did not fully understand why I co-sponsored LB 312.