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The economic situation in Nebraska has not improved. Revenues for the months of May and June were down significantly compared to the projections which were made back in late April. General Fund receipts for the month of May, for instance, were $480 million, which was 4.6% below the certified forecast of $503 million. The month of June will also fall well short of its projected tax revenue goal.
The budget adopted by the State Legislature this year was overly optimistic. As I asserted on the last day of the Legislative session, I believe the State Legislature will likely be called back for a special session this fall to deal with the State’s budgetary shortfall. Because the money in the State Treasury is insufficient to cover the State’s budget, more likely than not State Senators will be called back to Lincoln by the Governor to make deeper cuts into our State’s budget.
The time has come for the State to tighten its belt. When these kinds of financial crises hit us at home or in our businesses, we tighten our belts and find ways to reduce our own spending. For the State, it should be no different. We must find a way to live within our means without dipping into our rainy day fund.
For the month of May, the largest decrease in General Fund Receipts came from individual incomes, not corporations. Individual incomes fell 10.3% below their projected forecast. This means that Nebraskans are suffering financially. Analysis of the data also shows that over the course of the past few decades property taxes have been increasing at twice the rate as family incomes. So, it makes no sense to squeeze individuals and families for more tax dollars. Instead, what our citizens need is property tax relief.
For this reason, I have been working diligently this summer to lessen your property tax burden. I have been meeting with other Senators, lobbyists and concerned citizens to find the best property tax relief solution for the citizens of our State. We are rapidly approaching a consensus of opinion.
Once a consensus is reached, I will introduce you to the constitutional amendment I will introduce to the Nebraska Legislature in January. The constitutional amendment that I will introduce will be a Legislative Resolution which would put the measure, if passed, on the ballet for the voters to decide in November 2018; otherwise, we may use a citizen let petition drive to put a referendum of the same kind on the ballot. After 40 years of talking about property tax relief and doing nothing about it, I believe the time has come for the citizens to assert themselves at the polls on the subject of property tax relief.