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Property tax could be on Nebraska ballot, but governor criticizes plan

Ricketts Farm Bureau.jpg

The showdown over property taxes could head to the ballot box, as rural lawmakers may take the “50/50 plan” directly to the voters.

Farm Bureau members say they've had enough.

President Steve Nelson said, “We've seen the legislature not act for a number of years and we're really going to take this into our own hands and take it to the people so that's an option.”

It may not be their first option, but one they are considering. And leading the call to put a ballot issue together is State Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard.

“All I want for Christmas is property tax relief,” he said.

He calls it the 50/50 plan.

“You would have a refund on your income tax, refund or a credit equal to 50 percent of the funds that you pay out of your local personal and property tax that goes to public schools,” he said.

In other words, if you pay $5,000 in property taxes to your local school, you'd get a $2,500 credit.

Governor Ricketts calls that a “fantasy”, without a plan to pay for what he says is a billion dollar proposal.

“You're either going to have to raise taxes, or a massive cut,” he said while visiting the Farm Bureau convention in Kearney.

Speaking to Farm Bureau, the governor says he wants to encourage dialogue on tax relief but says prisons would close or schools would lose all state aid to pay for the tax credits.

Ricketts said, “I think the proponents of the plan have to talk about how they're going to pay for that. Where's that money going to come from?”

Erdman says state government is too big and programs could be cut, and not the ones the governor has suggested.

“We'd have to shut down the prisons, that's not the case,” the Bayard lawmaker said.

While Senator Erdman and farm groups talk about taking the issue to the voters, they say that's plan b.

Steve Nelson of Nebraska Farm Bureau said, “The legislative route would be our first choice and we continue to work very hard to move forward with legislative solutions.”

Farm bureau says it has also considered a legal challenge on property taxes, but they don't think that's viable.

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