“What if?” is an often used question to inquire about contingency plans. In other words, is there a Plan B, if Plan A fails to materialize?
Historically, Nebraska farmers and ranchers have depended upon their Ag groups to lobby the State Legislature and the Governor’s office in order to develop a “Plan A” for substantive property tax relief. For more than 40 years, the property tax relief “can” has been kicked down the road with nothing but hollow promises of “maybe next year.”
You, that is, our Nebraska farmers and ranchers, are currently being told that this next Legislative Session will be “the One” to finally bring property tax relief. The Ag lobbyists and the Legislature’s Revenue Committee have been working overtime in conjunction with our Governor to bring another “Plan A” bill to the floor of the Legislature for debate and passage. But wait! “What if” this Plan A bill is just another empty “can” being kicked down the road? If the bill passes, and it turns out to be just another meaningless token of property tax relief, will we be stuck with it? Will that be all the relief we ever get? Or, is there a Plan B option for the voters?
The answer is: Yes - there is a “Plan B” option for the voters. A petition drive is currently circulating throughout the State to put a ballot initiative for a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot for the November 2020 election. This Constitutional Amendment would provide real property owners in Nebraska with the opportunity to receive a refund of 35 percent of their property tax bill in the form of a Nebraska State Income tax credit; however, if the refund is more than the amount of income tax owed, the taxpayer would be issued a check for the balance.
The big challenge, as with all petition drives, is to gather enough signatures to officially place the initiative on the ballot. We have already gathered a significant number of signatures. However, in order to ensure success we need the farm and ranch organizations to step-up, get involved, and to enthusiastically endorse the ballot initiative. We need them to encourage their own membership to help in the effort by gathering signatures.
So, what can you do? First, you can visit the initiative petition website at www.truenebraskans.com to educate yourself on the ballot initiative. Second, you can encourage the adoption of a resolution at your organization’s annual convention requiring your organization to endorse and promote this ballot initiative for a Constitutional Amendment to provide true and meaningful property tax relief for all Nebraskans, be they farm, residential or commercial property owners. Contact your local and state organization’s leadership and encourage them to give you the power at the ballot box. You are the grassroots of your organization. You are in the driver’s seat. Steer your organization to give you the option of a “Plan B” in the event that the Legislature, once again, kicks the “can” down the road regarding property tax relief.
We can make significant property tax relief a reality so long as we all work together!
Contributed by Sen. Tom Brewer, LD 43, Sen. Steve Halloran, LD33 and Sen. Dave Murman, LD38.