Senator Brewer’s Weekly Update


By Senator Tom Brewer

Later this summer the Governor promised to call a special session of the legislature to reduce property taxes. I’m all for it. The fact this is an election year and we have 15 term-limited senators departing the body makes his decision a politically wise choice. Unfortunately, I don’t know if the political pressure from a looming election this Fall will be sufficient to find the 33 votes that will be needed.

During a regular legislative session, there are opportunities for compromise that do not exist in a special session. Special sessions must follow the purpose described in the Governor’s “call.” A bill about the brand committee, for example, would be out of order in a special session called to reduce taxes. Only bills judged by the referencing committee of the executive board to be germane to the Governor’s call can be introduced.

I am disappointed to see the EPIC consumption tax idea doesn’t have a seat at the Governor’s table. I think every idea should be considered on their merits. Deliberately excluding the EPIC tax as a possible course of action needlessly limits our options. There are over 400 registered lobbyists with the Nebraska Legislature. Nearly every single one of them has registered their opposition to the consumption tax idea. I encourage the governor to take another look at this and stop listening to people who are only looking out for themselves and their interests.

There is a good reason for this opposition. If implemented, the consumption tax would eliminate several government jobs at the county and state level. For example, all 93 county assessors and their staff would no longer be needed. Several state employees who work at the Department of Revenue would no longer be needed if Nebraska didn’t have an income, sales, or property tax. I think people overlook the fact that the EPIC tax will result in a significant reduction in the size and expense of State and County governments.

I believe preserving and protecting the government bureaucracy behind Nebraska’s income, sales, and property tax systems is, for many people, much more important than lowering any of those taxes. The ability of a lobbyist to bring a bill to a senator that makes one small change in the tax code (to benefit their client) is something that pays a lot of six-figure salaries in Omaha and Lincoln. It is also how a lot of reelection campaigns are funded by political donations. This is the self-licking ice cream cone that some, in the Nebraska political establishment, are trying to protect.

The dozen senators that represent most of the landmass of Nebraska are not the votes needed to pass a bill to lower property taxes. The votes needed must come from Lincon and Omaha senators, which means a bi-partisan solution must be reached. The handful of senators that represent greater Nebraska need no encouragement to vote to reduce property taxes. This problem has been plaguing rural Nebraska for many decades. Property taxes are depopulating western Nebraska, and they are killing our #1 industry, and are causing a way of life to slowly die. The rest of Nebraska is ready willing to reduce our taxes, just as soon as Lincoln and Omaha are.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.