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The Nebraska Legislature has now adjourned for the year. I have now completed my fourth session in the Legislature. This was the first time since I have been elected that we completed the full session. In previous years we adjourned three or four days early. Perhaps we should have adjourned early again this year as well, except for the passage of the bill to ban dismemberment abortions. That bill passed on the last day of the session.
Concerning dismemberment abortion, I can’t believe anyone would think that removing a living human being piece by piece from the mother’s whom is ok. That was an amazing opportunity we had, as Legislators, this year to protect the most vulnerable among us.
The Legislature also passed what some are now calling “historic property tax relief”. I suppose you could call it “historic” when it is such a minute amount. It is so minute that you will hardly even notice that your property taxes have been reduced.
One of my fellow Senators has developed a spreadsheet to calculate the reduction that Nebraskans will see on the property taxes due to LB 1107. Oh, did I forget to tell you that you will only get a reduction if the state has a revenue increase? If it doesn’t, sorry, but no relief.
LB 1107 contains an income tax credit on your State Income Tax Return, or if you don’t owe any money to the State, you will receive a refund on a small percentage of what property taxes get paid to the operation of the school, but not on your total property taxes paid to the school; just the operating revenue. For example, if your mill levy for your school is $1.05 you may get a 4 percent credit. So if you paid $1,000 to the school, you could get a $40 credit. Next year that figure should double, and the third year it should come in somewhere near $125. Of course, all of this is contingent upon the State’s revenue actually increasing.
For those who normally file no income taxes with the State, it may cost more to file the return than the refund they would receive. For instance, the person who pays a tax preparer $200 to prepare a State Income Tax Return for a refund of only $100 would find himself or herself at a loss of $100.
Now here is where this bill really gets interesting: The business incentive portion of the bill, called the Nebraska ImagiNE Act, has the same mechanism for giving tax relief to businesses as the property tax portion of the bill does to property owners. It’s an income tax credit, too. But, when it comes to business tax incentives the bill doesn’t require there to be an increase in State revenue in order to allow these businesses to cash in on their income tax credit. And there has never been any reconciliation about where the money will come from in order to pay for these business tax credits.
As I said last week, I have asked several proponents of this bill to explain to me why we have to have funds already available in order to give the good people of Nebraska a credit on their property tax bills but not for businesses. Here was their poor attempt at answering my question: “We have made adjustments in our budget for that.” So, just like in years past when we had to cut a check for a refund, we just pay the bill with no questions ever being asked. There is absolutely no provision in the bill which says that if the State doesn’t have the revenue, the businesses don’t get the credits. It seems to me that what is good for the goose ought to be good for the gander! But, I guess that’s not how things work in the Nebraska Legislature.
Finally, I would like to remind everyone in Legislative District 47 to fill out the U.S. Census, if you haven’t already done so. Many government programs are tied to the information gleaned from the census, and I would hate to see folks living in the Panhandle miss out on these benefits just because some folks never bothered to fill it out.