Key senators cite drawbacks in governor’s proposals
Thursday, 23 January 2014 16:19
By Danae Lenz - Nebraska News Service / Some state senators see drawbacks in Gov. Dave Heineman’s proposals dealing with tax cuts, health care and reforming “good-time” practices in state prisons, three major goals he said he wanted the Legislature to accomplish this session.
Sen. Health Mello of Omaha, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said he is especially worried about the long-term effects of Heineman’s tax plan, which would lower income taxes by 6 percent and lower agricultural land valuations by 10 percentage points. With the governor in his last year in office, the Legislature would be left to deal with the consequences, whatever those may be, Mello said.
He cited Kansas, which cut taxes last year and is now trying to dig itself out of a financial hole, as a state Nebraska should not seek to emulate. Nebraska’s large education budget could suffer as well, Mello said. And he warned against using one-time money to cut taxes for the wealthy.
“Long-term fiscal health is at risk, as well as the health of the middle class,” Mello said.
Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney, who is head of the Revenue Committee, said it’s clear that Heineman is serious about tax relief in the state, but he also had several critical questions he wants the Legislature to cover before it makes any major decisions.
Those questions are: What is the appropriate amount of money to have in the rainy day fund? What are the ongoing consequences of tax relief? And what can the Legislature really do about property taxes, which are levied by local jurisdictions?
Hadley said he doesn’t have the answers to those questions right now, but he said they will be answered this session. He urged senators to be logical instead of emotional when talking about the issue.
For the full story, pick up the January 22 West Point News, or call 372-2461 to subscribe.