Nebraskans pay the 17th highest property tax rate in the nation. That’s higher than all of our neighboring states.
And now Sen. Rick Kolowski has introduced a bill to allow property taxes to go even higher.
LB 346 would allow local school district to go beyond the maximum property tax levy by an additional cent, so long as the funds are used for security purposes.
We all want safe schools.
But Nebraskans already pay one of the highest property tax burdens so that we have safe, comfortable learning environments.
Increasing the property tax burden would set Nebraska back even further and make it even more difficult for families to make ends meet.
Higher property tax rates places incredible pressure on Nebraska’s working poor and depresses economic development.
Dr. C. Lowess Harris, Economic Professor at Columbia University, states that residents who want to advance from public housing, multi-family housing or low-income housing to single-family homes are deterred from doing so by the annual property tax burden. A high property tax burden makes it hard for families to achieve the American Dream.
And local communities spend incredible amounts of money on TIF (Tax Increment Financing), which allows private investors to defer their property tax bill on improved infrastructure developments and use that savings to fund the development.
According to the state Department of Revenue in 2011 TIF projects totaled $2.5 billion statewide. That’s a lot of lost government revenue, and a tab picked up by the average taxpayer. Average Nebraskans are paying an increasingly high property tax bill, and the tab is only getting bigger, as certain projects, investments and private-public ventures get special tax perks.
Because of Nebraska’s high property tax burden, significant economic development projects have become dependent upon tax support such as TIF. We’re at the point where it’s assumed development projects cannot move forward without TIF, or other property tax breaks.
Instead of raising the property tax burden even higher on the typical Nebraska family, as Sen. Kolowski’s LB 346 would do, we need to have a serious conversation about tax reform in Nebraska.
AFP-Nebraska continues to stand behind tax reform. Instead of increasing the burden on hard working families while giving breaks to select industries and preferred businesses, we need a fairer tax system that treats everyone equally before the law.