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I went to the Nebraska State Legislature for one primary purpose: To ease the burden of property taxes for all Nebraskans. Whether a person lives in an urban setting, a suburban neighborhood, a rural small town, or runs a business, farm or a ranch, property taxes are simply too high.
One thing has become abundantly clear to me during my short time working in the Legislature: Governor Ricketts does not want property tax relief. The Governor’s so-called property tax relief bill, LB947, does not bring any meaningful property tax relief to Nebraskans. LB947 is fake news or fake legislation, because it is nothing more than a shell game designed to fool the general public into believing they are receiving meaningful and substantial property tax relief when really they are not.
LB947 begins by offering agricultural property owners a two percent credit or refund the first year the plan is enacted. Considering that property taxes have been increasing by an average of 5.63 percent per year, we should ask: Is this really property tax relief? In 2027 these property tax credits or refunds would max out at 20 percent. Can you afford to wait another ten years to get 20 percent property tax relief?
The bill is much worse when it comes to residential property owners. LB947 would start residential property owners with a one percent credit or refund with a cap set at $25. So, the owner of a home valued at $150,000 would get a credit or refund of $25. Is that property tax relief? These credits would increase over time to 20 percent of property taxes paid until they reach a cap set at $500 in 2030. Is that substantial?
Business owners get shafted the most. LB947 offers no property tax relief whatsoever for businesses. Instead, the bill cuts the corporate income tax rate from 7.81 percent to 6.84 percent. Apparently, Governor Ricketts doesn’t think business owners need property tax relief. LB947 actually raises commercial property taxes in order to give relief to farmers and residential home owners.
By way of comparison, my bill, LB829, would start all property owners off the bat with a 30 percent credit or refund on their property taxes. This is no small matter because LB947 is heavily back-loaded. When you adjust for an average annual property tax increase of 5.63 percent, and factor in 8.5 percent for the value of money over time, the astute observer begins to realize the significant savings contained in my bill compared to the Governor’s bill.
For instance, a parcel of land valued at $283,000 with a mill levy set at 2.21 percent would currently make a property tax bill of $6,254. If no legislative bills ever passed for property tax relief, this landowner would end up paying $85,579 over the course of the next ten years. Under LB947 this same landowner would pay $77,277 over the same ten year period for a total savings of $8,302. However, under LB829 this same landowner would pay only $56,713 over the course of ten years for a total savings of $28,866.
Underlying LB947 lies an even more disturbing problem. Instead of making the necessary budget cuts in order to balance the State budget, LB944 takes another $40 million out of the State’s cash reserves to pay for these credits and refunds. So, the Governor never paid for his property tax relief bill.
I came to Lincoln to deliver on property tax relief. Together with Mr. Trent Fellers, we started the petition drive to put LB829 on the November ballot precisely because we did not believe that the Legislature had enough fortitude to pass meaningful and substantial property tax relief. As a property taxpayer and as a voter you now have the opportunity to let your voice be heard by signing the petition and by voting YES for real property tax relief in November.
Finally, I have posted a property tax savings calculator on my legislative website. By following the instructions on my website, you can see for yourself what your property taxes will look like ten years from now under LB947 and also under LB829.