We are more than six months removed from the election of our state legislators. While time has passed, voters have not forgotten the stumps on property tax relief that prompted their votes. Now, the true test of our senators’ commitment to tax reform and property tax relief for all Nebraskans is about to play out.
Optimism for the passage of a property tax relief package remains.
Senators have come to openly counter the narrative that the state can cut its way out of continued revenue shortfalls and an over reliance on property taxes to pay for public education. They have come to acknowledge that in order to provide real property tax relief, new revenues and modifications to school funding streams are necessary.
Where these new revenues are derived is critical. While a shift in taxes is inevitable, the shift must not simply be returned to low- and middle-income families and rural property owners. An increase in sales tax, and the taxation of pop, candy, and cigarettes can only be a portion of broader reform. Ending exemptions on modern services and closing tax loopholes will be needed.
And, a cut in income taxes for Nebraska’s wealthiest residents and corporations has no place in a conversation of property tax relief. Instead, the exact opposite should be deliberated to bring in necessary revenues. Investments in priorities like education, health care, and roads create long-term viability for our state, not tax cuts for the state’s wealthiest individuals and corporations.
This is not a matter of naming winners and losers, but achieving balance and a tax system that works for all Nebraskans. Long-term relief is going to be complicated, and it is going to take compromise. We need our legislators to hold their ground to ensure that property tax relief and reform is achieved for our citizens, for our schools, for our future.
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