Revenue committee calls on property owners to testify at property tax hearing

Nebraska Senator Lou Ann Linehan’s calling on property owners to testify at the revenue committee’s hearing Wednesday afternoon.

“I hope people who want to lower their taxes come,” she head of the committee said.

The revenue committee will formally debate their latest property tax proposal in committee for the first time, she said.

They hope to address a problem farmers have been fighting for years.

“I don’t want to be the weak link in my family and a hundred years down the road be the one to lose my family’s farm,” Jeff Uhlir, a farmer in Knox County said.

Uhlir said his farm is holding on, for now, so he’s testified in front of the revenue committee several times hoping to put an end to rising taxes before he has to leave his passion behind.

Some farmers haven’t left the field behind, but have left Nebraska.
Take the Oltjenbrun’s family, originally farmers in Lancaster County now living out their legacy in Warrensburb, Missouri.

“It was obvious when Lancaster County was making more off our farm than we were that something had to change,” Fritz Oltjenbruns said.

The revenue committee’s bill would take some of this burden off Nebraska farmers, she said.

“We’re going to reduce a portion of your property taxes that go into schools and reduce it by about 20 percent, then increase what the state funds when it comes to K-12,” she said.

They’d pay for it through sales tax increases. First, increasing sales tax rates by three quarters of a cent across the board and other increases to candy, pop and cigarettes.

Governor Pete Ricketts, while sympathizing with the plight of Nebraska farmers, is firmly against this plan.

“This is about making sure we are doing our job of running our services, controlling spending and by doing that prioritizing things in the budget we need to do like tax relief,” Ricketts said.

He said raising other taxes to make up for decreases isn’t true tax relief.

Linehan disagrees, she said.

“We are not raising taxes, we are cutting taxes and cutting them rather significantly.”

The hearing is Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. in room 1510 at the Nebraska State Capitol.