Nebraska lawmakers compromise on property tax relief bill

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 8:04 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - After trying and failing several times over the last few years, Nebraska lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to approve a property tax relief bill, 41-4.

Senators are calling the bill a “grand compromise,” because neither supporters or opponents are completely happy with it, but say it’s a good starting point.

The relief won’t be much at first. If you own a $200,000 home, you’ll save about $150 next year. But, over the next three to five years, supporters say the savings start to add up.

“It will vary based on where you live, but generally when this program is fully implemented, and it’s about a five year deal, most tax payers could see around a 15% decrease in their property taxes,” said Steve Nelson, President of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Nebraska Farm Bureau has long been a proponent of property tax relief.

“The cost of property tax has become one of the major expenses that farm operators have,” Nelson said. “It’s always been a big cost and a big concern, but now it’s one of the top expenses.”

Opponents of the bill, like the Nebraska State Education Association, say they’re disappointed in the bill’s passing.

“That isn’t relief, that is a switch,” said Jenni Benson, Nebraska State Education Association President. “We’re only moving it from property tax. You’re still paying the property tax, you’re just moving it to the income tax as the tax credit.”

NSEA also voiced concerns over providing a tax credit in a time when we don’t yet know the impact of COVID-19.

“There are so many layers to what we look at every year, and there isn’t a playbook for this,” Benson said. “I know lawmakers know that too, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t disappointed in the decisions that were made.”

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that the debate on property taxes and school funding is far from over.

“This doesn’t mean we’ve solved the issue forever, that there aren’t things we need to work on in the future,” Nelson said. “That’s absolutely true and we look forward to that opportunity as well.”

The bill is heading to Gov. Pete Ricketts desk where he is expected to sign it. There is an emergency clause, so the bill will go into effect as soon as he does.

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