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(Neb)-Ricketts Wins On Budget, Loses On Tax Relief Plan

By: John Axtell Posted at: 04/03/2018 06:13 PM
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - It was a day of mixed results in the Legislature for Governor Pete Ricketts today.

     Lawmakers approved the budget adjustment bill with his controversial provision to deny federal Title X family planning funding to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, but failed to advance his property and income tax relief plan.

     The budget package, needed to reduce the 2-year budget passed last year to meet lower than expected revenue, received 38-6 final approval and now goes to Ricketts for his signature...although he could make line-item vetoes.

     The budget package he proposed called for a 4% across-the-board cut for next year while the bill coming to him limits cuts to higher education to 1% with most other agencies getting a 2% reduction.

      Ricketts has insisted the Title X language was needed to make sure Nebraska won't lose that money should any of it be used for abortions, and to clearly show that Nebraska is a pro-life state.

       Appropriations Committee Chairman John Stinner of Gering, who crafted the budget package, told KNEB radio he wasn't surprised the Title X issue proved to be contentious on the floor because it was in committee as well.

       Although he supported the language, Stinner says what he's much more pleased about is that the overall package passed, adding that while the governor may make some line-item cuts, he doesn't believe the differences will be "material."

      LB 947, the governor's plan to cut the top rate for corporate income taxes and provide income tax credits for property taxes on ag and residential program, failed to reach a first-round vote when Speaker Jim Scheer decided to move on after 3 hours of often acrimonious debate and parlimentary moves that showed supporters lacked the votes to stop the filibuster..

        Supporters led by Revenue Committee chairman and bill sponsor Jim Smith argued that the plan was the only realistic option for providing property tax relief this year.

     It called for doing that with refundable income tax credits for paid income taxes, starting the first year at 2% for ag land and 1% for residential property and ending with 2030 with both at 20%...although residential refunds would be limited to $25 the first year and $500 at the end.

      Most rural lawmakers argued that the bill doesn't do nearly enough to help farmland owners whose property taxes surged over the last decade while other senators worried it would create long-term financial problems for the state because there's no specific plan to pay for it after the first year.
 
      Smith says he'll try to gather the 33 votes votes Scheer is requiring before he'll put it back on the agenda. 33 votes is the number needed to end a filibuster.


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