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ICYMI: Don’t be fooled by so-called property tax reform bills

Mar 26, 2019 by AFP

Americans for Prosperity-Nebraska State Director Jessica Shelburn | Omaha World Herald

When Gov. Pete Ricketts delivered his State of the State address on Jan. 15, he told us that property tax relief was “the No. 1 priority Nebraskans want.” He’s right.

To address the problem, he proposed Legislative Resolution 8CA, a constitutional amendment that would require local governments to get the consent of the people to increase property tax collection by more than 3 percent (it would not dictate to local governments how to spend their revenue). He also supports a proposal to base farmland values on income potential rather than market value, a much fairer system used by several neighboring states.

This is what true tax relief looks like, and we applaud the governor for taking these steps. According to the Tax Foundation, Nebraska has the 10th most burdensome property taxes (combining taxes at the state and local levels) in the nation. In addition, there are currently no limits on the tax rates local governments can impose on property. As a result, according to the governor, over the past decade local property tax rates have risen over 57 percent.

Our state Legislature should quickly approve these reforms while rejecting other supposed property tax relief bills that would simply shift the burden from one group of taxpayers to another.

It’s no surprise that about half of Nebraskans believe that property tax reform is the most important issue facing the Legislature, while 85 percent of respondents said it was an important, or the most important, issue.

The two tax-shifting bills would not seriously address this concern. They are the legislative equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul. There is a better way, and Ricketts has offered it.

We call on the members of our state Legislature to reject any bill that merely shifts the tax burden from one group to another, and instead provide real tax relief to Nebraskans based on the governor’s proposals.

The writer is Nebraska state director of Americans for Prosperity.

Click HERE to read the full op-ed.