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Nebraskans discuss property tax reform proposal

A legislative proposal to base Nebraska property taxes on ag land on the land’s income potential rather than its market value was the subject of a news conference at the state capitol this morning.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Lydia Brasch of Bancroft.

“LB 338 would provide the long-term reform Nebraska needs to help prevent spikes on future ag property tax increases,” Brasch says.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, who hosted the news conference, supports the proposed change.

“Not only will it be more fair, it will make it more predictable,” Ricketts says. “It will avoid some of the run-ups we’ve seen in valuations in recent years and will make a structural changes to how we value ag land. This is a big deal.”

Ricketts says a similar system is already used in North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

Farmer Deb Gangwish of Shelton says high property taxes are “crushing farmers and ranchers in Nebraska”.

“I tend to think of our ag economy as wounded,” Gangwish says, “and Nebraska’s rising property taxes are like pouring salt into that wound.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau calls the proposal “a step in the right direction”, but says it doesn’t correct what it calls “an imbalance in our tax system”. Farm Bureau has offered a plan that would expand the sales tax base and use that money for property tax reform.

AUDIO: Excerpts from news conference

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