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As a member of the Appropriations Committee every spare minute is consumed with finalizing the Appropriations bills for the next biennium. The tough decisions on state spending are in the process of being made.
Dry bean promotion and research funding increase bill passes. The Legislature passed on a vote of 46 to 1, LB 242 which increases the funding for the Dry Bean Commission. The bill awaits the Governor’s signature. The mission of the Commission is to promote, educate and conduct research to improve the profitability of the production of dry edible beans.
After all of the debate on General File, it was humbling to see the bill pass with such support. Dry Beans are a critical part of the Valley’s agricultural economy. The additional funding will restore the erosion of the purchasing power for promotion and research caused by inflation. The Commission can continue to promote the consumption of beans that are high in protein and fiber. The increase in the assessment will be effective August 1, 2015.
Angel Tax Credit bill advances. The Legislature advanced LB 156 to the second round of debate with no objections. LB 156 is a bill that I introduced and that provides additional funding for tax credits. Senator Hilkemann has made this bill a priority so that it could be considered.
The available tax credits were gone by mid-July in 2012, mid-April in 2013, and January 1 the past two years. The demand clearly exceeds the available credits.
The Angel Investment Tax Credit was part of a package passed in 2011 to expand the tools available to the state in promoting development and investment in high-growth companies, particularly in the technology sector. The initial proposal included $5 million annually for the credit, but budget constraints led the Legislature to reduce the amount to $3 million per year.
As introduced, LB 156 would raise the credit by $2 million annually to the original proposed level of $5 million. However, the Legislature’s Revenue Committee reduced the proposed increase to $1 million, or a total of $4 million per year.
Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island, Revenue Committee Chair, acknowledged the demand,
“The credit has been ‘sold out’ every year,” he said. “The committee wants to see how we do with an additional million. If the demand is there we can consider raising it again.”
In order to improve the information available to evaluate the program in 2019, an amendment was adopted to improve the information that must be provided by recipients of the funds.
What would the gas tax increase mean for funding Nebraska’s roads? LB 610 would increase the fixed motor fuels tax rate by 1.5 cents every year for four years for a total of six cents. Here are the details of the bill:
Of the two components of the fixed rate, the portion allocated to the Nebraska Department of Roads would increase ½ cent every year, from 7.5 cents to 9.5 cents for 4 years. The portion that is allocated to cities and counties would increase one cent every year from 2.8 cents to 6.8 cents over 4 years. Beginning January 2019, the total fixed rate motor fuels tax would be 16.3 cents per gallon.
This bill advanced on a vote of 26 yes, 10 no and 8 Senators not voting. LB 610 will need 30 votes to override a veto promised by Governor Ricketts. At this point I have received more support for this tax increase from the people of District 48 than I expected. Consistent with this support, I am supporting the bill. This should be an effective mechanism to improve our infrastructure, cap and eventually lower property taxes.
As always I would appreciate any thoughts and inputs. My contact information is: Senator John Stinner, District 48, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509, Phone (402) 471-2802. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org