A property tax lesson from Arthur County

By Ty Walker

Property taxes have more than doubled in the past decade. The price of cattle has not. This has created significant challenges for those of us in production agriculture.

When this trend first began, I was quick to blame our local administrators and school board for the burden placed on property tax payers. I believed the only way to control the rise in property taxes was for schools to mitigate spending at the local level.

My views evolved as I learned more about our state budget and the way we fund our educational system.

While we can and do expect local officials to use our tax dollars as conservatively as possible, we must also understand the tools they are forced to work with. School spending may seem high, but it is less the fault of our local schools and more a result of our stubborn reliance on an outdated school funding formula.

This, in turn, is due to a lack of leadership in Lincoln.

That is why I support LB 1084. While this legislation does not outline all of the structural changes needed to remedy our school funding debacle, it charts a course forward. It is a common-sense solution based on balance and compromise.

This legislation provides the immediate property tax relief those of us in rural Nebraska truly need. It does so by eliminating loopholes and modernizing our tax system. The bill would also hold school spending growth to a minimum. Unlike other options under consideration, it achieves this while protecting the state budget.

LB 1084 brings in the dollars needed to achieve property tax relief, while moving toward a better solution for schools. Arriving here has taken courage and compromise. My gratitude stands ready for the Nebraska state senators who have the courage to see this bill become law.

Ty Walker ranches with his family in rural Arthur County, Nebraska.