Scheer calls for senators meeting on property tax reform

Frustration over the lack of progress on finding a bill that can pass was apparent at the Legislature Friday.

It started with debate over Sen. Tom Briese’s amendment to a bill that would lower property taxes.

"You can not slash and burn your way to property tax relief," Briese said.  "That can’t be the only way to property tax relief.  You are not going to have a K–12 education system that’ll prepare our children for the jobs and careers of the 21st century."

It didn’t look like his bill was gaining traction.

"Senator Briese taps into our last reserve," said Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus.  "And reserve is in marginal pockets of tax space that remain untaxed."

"This is purely raising taxes by removing exemptions and taxing services," said Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft.

None of the five bills relating to property tax relief in the 2018 session went anywhere.  Speaker Jim Scheer stood up and scolded the legislature for their lack of progress on property tax relief.

"We’ve killed everything that’s came in front of us," Scheer said.  "And why?  Because we didn’t take the time to determine if we could find something that everyone could agree with."

With the 2018 session over in four days, Scheer invited five senators to meet in his office Saturday to find a compromise that can win approval.

"We’ll shut the doors," Scheer said.  "I don’t care what the lobby says, I don’t care what the governor says.  We should be working for something that benefits the state of Nebraska.  Not next year, this year."

But that didn’t sit well with other senators.  Several complained the group lacked diversity.

"I do not like how the makeup is so skewed to white males that are very conservative," said Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln.

Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion said he has business appointments scheduled Saturday and was upset that Scheer would call for this meeting on short notice.

"Speaker Scheer did not have a courtesy to ask me of my availability," Smith said.  I’m the Revenue Chair.  I’m not any better than any of you, but I’m the Revenue Chair."

Scheer said he’s open to other senators participating and he was trying to get the group to meet Friday evening.  No word yet on if that happened.

If the group comes out with a compromise, we won’t know what it will be until Monday