Reaction Mixed to Heineman's Final Agenda
Despite the clout that comes as the longest serving governor in Nebraska history, Governor Dave Heineman faces resistance on some of his proposals.
"Senator Hadley and members of the revenue committee, you can lower taxes," the governor said during his State of the State address.
Calling out Kearney Senator Galen Hadley, head of the tax committee, Heineman told lawmakers to deliver on his pledge to cut taxes, but it may be a tough sell.
Hadley said, "I'm not poo–pooing the governor's request, but we need to be prudent."
There is support for the suggestion made by Nebraska Farm Bureau to lower the value of farm ground for tax purposes.
Sen. John Wightman of Lexington said, "I'm going to support the legislative bill that would lower the farm tax to 65 percent."
Sen. Mark Christensen has seen the issue first hand. He said, "I sell real estate and have just seen remarkable increases. It is hard on young farmers."
Senator Jeremy Nordquist says the governor should focus on expanding health coverage instead of what he calls a tax giveaway to the rich.
He said, "The proposals he's put forward in the past have been misguided and talking about $500 million tax cut won't be sustainable."
The governor says there's more than a billion in cash in the state's bank account.
Senators, though, remember when that money kept the state afloat just a few years back.
Hadley said, "The primary purpose of the rainy day fund is to keep us from raising taxes during period times of economic downturn. I'm sure we'll have discussions about what is the appropriate amount."
Others believe tax cuts should take a back seat to crime.
Sen. Brad Ashford said, "It's fun to give people their money back, but I think we have a higher purpose here and that is to bring our prison system up to speed."
It was the tenth and final State of the State from a governor who will serve longer than any other and senators say it's clear Heineman wants to go out as the governor who cut taxes.
"It's his last year, I'm sure he'd like to see some things done," Hadley said.
Hadley thinks they may do something on property taxes. But as the chair of a committee that studied the entire tax code, he thinks the system is pretty fair as it is.