It’s time for Nebraska’s legislators to pass meaningful property tax relief
November 23, 2018
Three incumbent senators seeking re-election were defeated in this past election. All politics are local and each one of Nebraska's 49 legislative districts are unique in their own way. What mattered in one district may not have been an issue in another.
What I want to focus on is what all three of these races had in common: Property taxes. More to the point, the continuing failure of the legislature to pass meaningful property tax relief.
All kinds of things influenced the voters and contributed to the outcome of these races, but one thing is crystal clear, to one degree or another, the challenger was able to attack the incumbent senator about the legislature's failure to pass property tax relief.
Property tax relief has been the No. 1 priority in the 43rd Legislative District since long before I was sworn in. It is clearly the No. 1 issue in the whole state. Every senator in this body, myself included, ran on fighting for property tax relief. Those of us who ran against and defeated incumbents all made an issue out of our opponent's inability to get something done on property taxes. Now we've seen incumbent senators defeated, at least in some part, because of the legislature's continuing failure to deliver on property tax relief. The next election is less than two years away. Shouldn't this issue be the No. 1 most important priority for senators in the legislature? Doesn't the prospect of becoming a defeated incumbent "one and done" senator finally provide sufficient motivation for the legislature to solve this problem?
It's easy to find out what is most important to a senator by the bills they introduce. Each one of the 49 senators is given a "priority" bill. This is basically an agreement between a senator and the Speaker of the Legislature. The speaker controls the legislative calendar and gets to decide when bills voted out of committee are put on the calendar and scheduled for debate on the floor.
Should all 49 priority bills be about property tax relief? Is that how we show the people of Nebraska that we hear them loud and clear? I don't think so. I think it's more important to the show the people of Nebraska that we can work together to get this done. First, I think we need to elect a chairman of the Revenue Committee who will push hard to get property tax bills voted out of that committee, and not keep good bills stalled without a vote. Then I think we need several good property tax bills, introduced by a variety of different senators. Bills that address all three classes of property; agricultural, commercial and residential. I think we need different ways to pay for bills such as changes to the TEEOSA formula, changes to how we value agriculture ground, changes to tax levy authority, and/or ending certain sales or income tax exemptions. I also think we need to take a hard look at changing article VII of the constitution so we can better define how "the legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools." Lastly I think we need the senior senators from both sides to step-up and provide the leadership to pull all of these different ideas together. I'm going to do everything in my power to help make this happen.
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People in my district, and across the state, are losing homes, farms and ranches because they can't pay the property taxes. I think we owe it to the people of Nebraska to finally solve this problem before we debate bills about prairie dogs or indoor tanning facilities or driver-less cars.
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628. ❖