Influx in revenue offers hope for property tax relief strategy

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There will be a decidedly different tone in Lincoln this week as Nebraska lawmakers reconvene to start the 2020 legislative session.
Before the first gavel falls, everyone in the room knows there is money on the table, unlike most recent years, in the form of an unexpected $130 million projected increase in state revenues.
Though it’s been a tough year for agriculture, the most recent revenue report reflects positive economic growth and success on several fronts. That’s good news for Nebraska.
There have been years in Lincoln when lawmakers knew going in that bills with a large price tag attached were all but dead on arrival, due to the harsh economic realities of the day. This won’t be one of those years, but the reality is it could and should still be a challenge to gain support for new spending.
Last year’s session ended with a stalemate on any and all property tax relief proposals, which in the final days prevented action on updating the state’s economic development incentive package. Rural senators were adamant in explaining that they would not sign off on a new ImagiNE Nebraska Act without getting some traction in return on property tax relief, so that’s how the 2019 session ended, with more than a few ruffled feathers.
It’s reasonable to expect that the influx of revenue will be targeted for those two major issues before any new bills or proposals see the light of day. The Nebraska Advantage Act will sunset at the end of this year, even more motivation to roll up the sleeves and address that issue in the pending 60-day session.
On the same note, rural senators will be joined by the state’s farmers, ranchers and ag coalition leaders in asking that if not now, when if ever will property tax relief become a top priority?
Kurt Johnson

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