The bill that had the best chance of lowering property taxes and making public education funding more equal – LB 289 – has failed to advance. Aside from lowering everyone’s property taxes, this bill would have helped correct the terrible unfairness in funding for the 213 mostly rural school districts who receive no equalization aid from the state. Ask yourself why a child in the Gordon-Rushville School District is only worth about $80 in state aid to schools, but a child in the Omaha Public Schools is worth about $5,500.
I wish I could name names and publish a vote count and show the people where their senators stand on this bill, but a vote was never taken. LB 289 did not have at least 33 supporters to end the filibuster, so we couldn’t even take a vote on the most important issue facing Nebraska. I can tell you a lot of politicians opposed to this bill breathed a sigh of relief. They didn’t want to be on the record voting against property tax relief. Good for them. Bad for Nebraska.
The speaker announced at the end of the work week that the Legislature would adjourn “Sine Die” on 31 May. That’s four working days early. The speaker only has so much he can work with, so I understand his decision, but I am frustrated and disheartened by it. I cannot speak for others, but I am ready and willing to spend whatever time it takes to pass the most important piece of unfinished business we have.
The 1.9 million Nebraskans outside of the capitol building see this legislature skipping out early without addressing the #1 problem facing our State – the property tax crisis. This is not the first time the legislature has done this. This is my third session as a state senator and we have adjourned every single year without addressing the property tax crisis. This has been going on for decades and it makes me sick.
It makes me sick because it is all based on a wrong idea. It is based on the idea that the masterminds in government bureaucracies are somehow more important than what happens on farms and ranches and in family homes and businesses across the state. Too many of my colleagues believe that their ideas for the people’s money are smarter and better and more important than what the people would choose for themselves. They forget it is private enterprise that grows our food and builds our houses. They forget that families are what make those houses into homes. When government spends too much, the answer cannot always be to take more from the people.
In the few remaining days of this session, I am still hopeful there will be a final, successful effort to get property tax relief passed. The time for bickering and delay is long over. My message for my fellow senators is simple: let’s get this done for Nebraska now!
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.