Nebraska lawmakers are being urged yet again to help local governments lower their property taxes.
The calls for reform on Friday came during the final public-input hearing of the Legislature's Tax Modernization Committee. Lawmakers are looking at changes to make the system simpler, competitive and more equitable.
Alvin Guenther, a retired educator from Dunbar, says his property tax bill doubled between 2008 and 2012 for two land parcels that he owns. Guenther criticized the state's business tax incentives, saying they were enacted without clear goals.
John Cederberg, treasurer of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, says the best way to reduce property taxes is by growing Nebraska's urban economy to increase the sales and income tax base.
West Point Mayor Marlene Johnson says the state should restore aid to cities.
The chairman of a legislative tax panel is predicting that the group will propose changes to the way Nebraska taxes Social Security income.
Sen. Galen Hadley said Friday that he believes lawmakers on the Tax Modernization Committee will recommend action on Social Security income. Hadley says one possibility is raising the threshold at which Social Security income starts to be taxed.
Advocates for retirees and low-income residents have argued that Nebraska should join other states that phase out taxes on Social Security income. Nebraska is one of five states that tax the benefit to the highest extent allowed. Iowa is phasing out its tax on Social Security benefits, and Missouri has already eliminated the tax for most recipients.
Hadley's comments came after the committee's final public-input hearing in Lincoln.
Some proponents of the cuts warn that funding should not be cut to Nebraska schools, citing the importance of education to children.
State Senators who made up the committee will know take these suggestions and come up with ideas for bills to submit when the unicameral begins next January.