Nebraskans Speak Out: Control Spending to Achieve Property Tax Relief
LINCOLN – Right now, the Nebraska Legislature is considering tax plans that would implement some of the largest tax increases in state history. LB 289 raises the state sales tax rate by 9%, cuts property tax relief from the state in half, imposes new taxes on a variety of services, raises the cigarette tax, and increases the tax on buying a house. AM 1846 to LB 183 would also impose dozens of new taxes on a variety of goods and services ranging from home and auto repairs to bottled water and veterinary care.
Everyday Nebraskans are speaking out against the state’s high taxes and making their voices heard. The following are excerpts from letters to the editor recently published in newspapers across the state.
My refrigerator started making loud popping noises just months after the warranty expired. Whether I bought a new one or repaired it would involve more taxes, as proposed by the Legislature.
My pickup has 204,000 miles on it. Repairs or new, more new taxes. I took two cats to the vet, spending $446.74. Any more trips, I'd again face new additional taxes. My furnace needs extensive repairs or to be replaced -- and I already paid $415.62 on repairs. Now, that could mean more additional taxes.
I have had four surgeries in 13 months. The state's initial proposed cost for the first three years of Medicaid expansion, $90 million, will be chewed up and more so fast by hospitals and clinics. They are already doing creative billing.
So, please quit thinking of new and more taxes in the name of property tax relief. I cannot afford your solutions.
Dee A. Steffensmeier, Bridgeport
There are a few unquestionable things: Water is wet, the sun will rise somewhere in the eastern sky, and when the Legislature shuffles the tax cards, we will end up paying more.
Property taxes are extremely high, income taxes are a “deal breaker” for CEOs looking at relocation and the state sales tax rate does not seem that far out of line until local add-ons make the total bundle obscene.
Nebraska has a spending rather than revenue problem. Adding taxes to lower taxes is as effective as shuffling deck chairs on the RMS Titanic.
We have an opportunity to correct state spending by cuts and ending some programs altogether. All expenditures need a sunset clause and lids placed on state, county, city, school and natural resources district budgets.
Don Walters, Omaha
Yes, our Legislature is looking at lowering property taxes -- but at the expense of raising other taxes.
Why not look at cutting expenses somewhere that would allow a lower property tax? Apparently, cutting expenses is not in our state Legislature's vocabulary. Increase revenue from Peter to pay Paul is their standard fallback.
Maybe it’s time to elect representatives who actually look for ways to cut expenses in order to lower taxes instead of looking for alternate ways to increase revenue.
Marv Walker, Lincoln
Sadly, the legislature is ignoring the real elephant in the room … the size and cancerous year after year growth of school administration costs, county government costs, and state bureaucracy costs.
The solution is really simple … require each of these government entities to be put on a crash diet by requiring that they reduce costs by at least 10 percent per year for the next two years. They are all staffed far larger than necessary to do everything that needs doing. Cut the fat. Cure the cancerous growth. Do it now.
John Gable, Scottsbluff
Prospects are dim that the Legislature this session will pass comprehensive property tax relief. Senators apparently cannot agree on common principles for property tax relief that will completely satisfy both urban and rural angry taxpayers. Gubernatorial initiatives are stalled in committee. Relief through an initiative petition failed in 2018. Elections can have consequences.
Doug Kagan, Omaha
President, NE Taxpayers for Freedom
Gov. Pete Ricketts is right, at least to some degree, in calling Legislative Bill 289 a “reverse Robin Hood.” Taxing isn’t theft, but the proposal would have a disproportionate impact on the poor. We should all reject any proposal to increase the state’s sales tax.
I urge lawmakers to reject any proposal that would increase the already high burden on low-income earners and working families.
Ben Perlman, Omaha
Omaha Public Schools board member