Sen. Hughes: property tax relief, budget cuts continue to challenge Legislature

The hue and cry for property tax relief continues to hound the 49 senators in Nebraska’s statehouse.
    That’s just one of the issues challenging the nation’s only unicameral during a short 60-day session this year.
    After chopping more than $1 billion from state spending during last year’s 90-day session, senators need to close another $200 million gap this session.
    Governor Pete Ricketts outlined his plan to close the budget gap, cut income taxes and provide property tax relief during his State of the State address last week.
    Senator Dan Hughes, who represents the 44th District, doesn’t feel the governor’s plan does enough to help agriculture.
    The governor’s plan, the Property Tax Cuts and Opportunity Act, would change how $224 million worth of existing property tax credits are distributed.
    Homeowners and ag land owners would get refundable income tax credits worth about 10 percent of property taxes paid. The homeowner credits would be capped at $230 and be limited to a taxpayer’s main residence. The ag land credits would be limited to Nebraska residents.
    This would result in six  percent more in credits for homeowners and 14 percent more for Nebraska agricultural landowners.
    Income tax rates will also go down as part of the bill.
    The ag sector has seen property valuations rise faster than any other class of property over the last five years. Hughes said this plan fails to address the hit agriculture has suffered.
    The governor’s property tax plan isn’t the only one in the Legislature.
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