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State Lawmakers release plan to reduce property taxes

Posted at 6:45 PM, Nov 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-22 19:45:19-05

NEBRASKA CITY, Neb. (KMTV) — After years of failing to pass substantial reform, Senator Lou Ann Linehan hopes 2020 is the year major property tax reform passes. She's not alone.

"In general, property taxes are too high, and most citizens feel that spending not just locally, but statewide is too high,” says state senator, Mike Moser.

The legislature hopes to reduce taxes while also ensuring all public schools in the state have adequate funding. The new plan would immediately help farmers and ranchers, reducing the school levy on ag land by 20 percent.

To make sure schools aren't underfunded, the state would give every district in the state almost $700 per student, which is not the case now.

She says if they don't pass something, people will leave the state.

"The baby boomers who have been successful but not multi millionaires, they're going to leave the state if we don't do something, they're not going to live in the state where they pay three to four times in taxes what they pay in Colorado, or Missouri, or South Dakota or Florida or Texas,” says Linehan, revenue committee chair.

The plan would also reduce taxes on residential and commercial property, in the next few years. Linehan hopes a few years down the road they could move towards that goal, but that worries senators like Machaela Cavanaugh.

"I just don't think that the current proposal is equitable,” says Cavanaugh.

She represents central Omaha, which has no farmland.

"My concern with the current proposal is that we are only addressing this issue, for certain populations and not for everyone and not doing it at the cost of public education,” says Cavanaugh.

Other like Mike Moser, who represents Columbus, believes those folks in town will be okay with the plan as long as they eventually get relief.

"This needs to be phased in because they don't want to make too much change all at once because if you make too much change you may really, really distort the system and cause problems,” says Moser.

Last year lawmakers tried to raise sales taxes and cut tax exemptions, which Governor Ricketts did not support.

Because of Ricketts and other senators disapproval, Linehan doesn't expect to try that this session.