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State lawmakers push for a cap on property tax increase

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 11:33 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Sen. Tom Briese said Nebraska is relying too much on property taxes to fund the local government. He said this is hurting the state’s economy.

“I think it’s unconscionable to let that happen and that really is the purpose of this bill to prevent that from happening going forward,” Sen. Briese said.

Briese said the state’s property tax rate is growing much faster than inflation and wages in the state.

According to national tax data, Nebraska ranks 8th highest in property taxes.

On average, a homeowner in Nebraska pays just shy of $2,800 in property taxes each year. If that number increases next year at the 4.4 percent rate, which is the average over the last 10 years, It’d go up by 122 dollars.

But, with this bill capping increases at 3 percent, it can only go up 83 dollars; saving taxpayers right around $40.

Sen. Briese said, “It’s not a whole lot different than what property taxes have been increasing for the last 10 years, but it is some measure of benefit for our taxpayers.”

The Nebraska State Education Association is opposed to the idea as officials said it’ll take away the tax dollars schools use during the year.

NSEA executive director Maddie Fennell said, “If we want to do something on property tax reform, we have to look at how we’re funding our schools differently. It’s not a spending problem, it’s a funding problem.”

Education officials said property tax isn’t the only issue, but what the state provides in funding through state aid.

“I don’t know how we expect districts to continue to grow on less money,” Fennell said.

NSEA officials want state lawmakers to readjust their tax reform to include sales and income tax along with property tax.

Both Sen. Briese and the NSEA want the state to provide schools with more state aid. This is why Sen. Briese has introduced a potential constitutional amendment to make the state pay for all educational expenses for K-12 schools.

If passed, Sen. Briese said voters could override this limit with a majority vote at an election.

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