Lawmakers Search for a Modern Tax Climate


They called it a monumental bill that deserves extra attention. On Wednesday, Nebraska's tax reform bill got that attention.

The Nebraska legislature started the discussion on tax reform for the first time in fifty years. The two tax reform bills, like all bills, each get one hearing day. Over the two days following, the revenue committee will spend as much time as needed to hear testimony.

The governor testified in support of the legislation, something rarely seen by lawmakers.

Lawmakers said the theme of the hearing was finding out how a modern tax system should look.

Senator Beau McCoy, who authored LB405, repeatedly said nothing is set in stone and he welcomes the discussion.

"We have to look at which of these makes sense and where we can modernize," Senator McCoy said.

However, many business groups have raised concerns about the bill, saying it would create uncertainty for manufacturers, processors, and industries that serve agriculture.

The governor started the day by standing with war veterans.

"Why does Lozier a company in Omaha get an exemption and they don't have to pay sales tax on the energy they consume but these guys who defended our county don't get an exemption for this their military retirement," Heineman said.

The hearing drew people from across the state, filling up the room to full capacity, and sending dozens to the overflow room. Tax payers and business representatives were ready to testify on both sides; and the governor sat in the front row with other testifiers, ready to speak up.

"If we give them a tax exemption and someone else is going to have to pay the bill is what we're going to weigh in on during these kinds of discussions," Senator Galen Hadley said.

"I haven't really been able to answer this. People say what if we put a sales tax back on the tractor and there's a sales tax on it and he or she will have to go to the court house and pay personal property that isn't that double taxing," Senator Kate Sullivan added.

Sullivan also mentioned a tractor or combine is only one of 84 tax exemptions that would have to be eliminated, in order to keep a neutral budget.