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The U.S. Labor Department announced last Thursday that 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. This was the largest jump in jobless claims in U.S. history. The previous record had been set back in 1982 with 695,000 jobless claims. Without a steady and continuous flow of income, few Nebraskans will be able to survive the coming economic storm and pay their property taxes. Consequently, the property tax deadline of May 1 could not be coming at a worse time for many Nebraskans.
Nebraskans need property tax relief now more than ever before. Because the coronavirus is causing businesses to lay-off employees and Nebraska continues to rank number 2 in the nation for farm and ranch bankruptcies, the financial situation for many families in Nebraska is growing desperate. Even with significant and meaningful property tax relief, economic depression may become unavoidable.
Ever since I came to Lincoln as a State Senator for Legislative District 47, I devoted myself to delivering on property tax relief. I have made property tax relief my number 1 goal, and it remains my highest priority today. I will continue to fight for property tax relief because I know how important it is to our citizens.
The Nebraska State Legislature currently remains in recess indefinitely due to the coronavirus with 17 legislative days left to complete. The city of Lincoln has experienced its first community spread case of the coronavirus and the mayor has limited group gatherings to ten people or less until May 6. This presents a significant problem for 49 Senators who need to meet inside the Norris Chamber at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln in order to attend to the business of the State. Consequently, the Legislature may have to recess until the restrictions are lifted or until Speaker Scheer can find a creative and innovative solution to the problem.
Whenever the Legislature reconvenes, the issue of property tax relief needs to take center stage. While I have introduced two constitutional amendments to solve the problem of property tax relief during this biennial session, the Revenue Committee has not advanced either LR3CA or LR300CA. It is time for the Revenue Committee to abandon LB974, which is a property tax relief bill which stands no chance of ever passing. Instead, they need to give these constitutional amendments a chance to advance on the floor of the Legislature in the short time remaining. Otherwise, the Legislature will have nothing to show for property tax relief for the last two years of this biennial session.