LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska lawmakers must focus on delivering property tax relief for hardworking Nebraska families, not on how to use taxpayer dollars to provide business incentives and corporate tax breaks, according to the Nebraska Farm Bureau. With limited days remaining in the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers have yet to pass a property tax relief bill, but senators will spend precious time debating a measure to renew corporate incentives, Wed., May 15.
“Nebraskans have made it clear they want the Legislature to fix our state’s property tax problem. Yet with little over 10 days left in the 90-day session, the Legislature is spending time on a bill to renew Nebraska’s corporate incentives, without having passed legislation to deliver property tax relief or to improve the way we fund K-12 education,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “Property tax relief is economic development for those who call Nebraska home; that must come first.”
LB 720, the corporate incentives bill, was introduced by Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward. If implemented, the bill is projected to cost Nebraska taxpayers anywhere from $150 million to nearly $200 million a year by 2029.
“Those are dollars that could be used to ensure the state covers education funding costs for all Nebraska students, in addition to providing significant property tax relief for Nebraska families,” said Nelson.
LB 720 contains no dollar cap on the corporate incentives program, creating an open-ended financial obligation that Nebraska taxpayers would be responsible to fund well into the future.
“At a time when the governor and others are criticizing senators for considering raising revenues so the state can better fund schools and provide property tax relief, it’s hard to believe the Legislature would consider a bill that is nothing short of the state issuing a blank check for corporations to fill out into the future,” said Nelson.
Nebraska’s current business tax incentives are set to expire in 2020, leaving time for the Legislature to tackle the issue next session. Because of that, Nelson says the Legislature needs to shift its focus immediately.
“Nebraskans aren’t asking for corporate incentives. They’re asking for the Legislature to fix the way we fund schools and to lower their property tax bills. The Revenue Committee advanced a major tax and education funding reform bill in LB 289 that does both. It’s time senators fulfilled their property tax campaign promises and advance that bill,” said Nelson. “Moving LB 720 without having delivered property tax relief first would be a slap in the face to Nebraskans. I’m not sure how you tell a constituent you couldn’t lower their property taxes, or fund their school, but you could give away hundreds of millions of their taxpayer dollars for corporate incentives.”