Governor Pete Ricketts says work will continue between sessions of the legislature to find a workable property tax cutting solution.
The Legislature reviewed several plans for comprehensive reform, but didn’t pass any in their recent session. Senators passed a budget that allocated $65 million less for schools than he proposed, but didn’t follow his advice for using the leftover money.
“With the school-aid formula needing less than what I had budgeted,” said Ricketts, “use that money to start a program, for example, we could fund on a per-student basis or a basic needs kind of approach.”
Several of the plans for cutting property taxes proposed ties to the school aid formula, but the governor said none of them amounted to workable solutions all parties could agree on, and predicted that education funding will remain in the spotlight. Ricketts said LB 289, the most popular of the unsuccessful plans recently, was not the correct solution.
Ricketts’ comments came in response to a caller to The Governor’s Monthly Call-in Show, heard here on KFOR Monday afternoon. The caller, who identified himself as a farmer and a member of his local school board, said “another can had been kicked down the road” when the Legislature failed to pass any meaningful Property Tax reform in its just completed session.
The Governor said little work could be done between sessions last year, because the chairmen of the Committees involved weren’t known at the time. This interim, however, the Chairs of Education and Revenue are both known, since they’re elected for two years terms. “We’ll be able to work with Senator Linehan, who will be the head of the Revenue Committee, and with Senator Groene, who will be the head of the Education Committee.”
Modification of Education funding is largely seen as the major way to achieve Property Tax relief, since about 60% of local Property Taxes are used to support local schools. Several of the past year’s proposals, including LB 289, proposed increasing State Aid to Schools in order to cut their need for Property Tax dollars.
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