Floor Debate Begins On Property Tax Relief Plan

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – The latest attempt to lower property taxes in Nebraska faces an uncertain future after lawmakers squabbled Wednesday over whether it would hurt K-12 public schools that rely heavily on the revenue.

Senators debated the measure for nearly 3 hours but failed to reach a vote before they adjourned for the day. Debate resumes Thursday morning.

Supporters say LB-974 will reduce property taxes on ag land by 12% in 3 years with commercial and industrial properties getting a 3% cut and residential properties 4%.

The savings are achieved by lowering the percentage of valuation subject to taxation from 75% to 55% for ag land and 100% to 87% for residential and commercial property.

The lost revenue would be replaced by increasing state school aid, funded by income and sales taxes, by about $500-million dollars. The aid increase would make up 100% of any lost revenue the first year and lesser amounts in the next two.

The bill also reduces the maximum increase in property taxes to the rate of inflation plus real estate valuation increases from construction.

Many school districts oppose the plan, saying the limits make it impossible for them to fully fund operations if the state fails to follow through on the promised aid increase.

Revenue Committee chairman Lou Ann Linehan of Omaha, whose panel created the bill and who managing the bill on the floor, says she’s willing to negotiate and work with those who have concerns about the limits, but is still committed to some types of limits on revenue and spending by schools.

Linehan believes she has enough votes to pass the complex bill, but cautions that lawmakers need more time to discuss and understand everything it does.

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