Governor Ricketts shares tax plans at Hastings town hall

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - With the legislative session up and running, the unicameral are working to find out how to best use tax dollars. Governor Pete Ricketts stopped in Hastings to share his plan he has presented to the senators. He has a few key focuses including property tax relief and after devastating floods he is focusing on paying for the recovery.

Governor Pete Ricketts stopped in Hastings to talk about his key focuses in the legislature this year and how he wants to use taxpayer dollars. (KSNB)

The 2019 floods are one of the most costly disasters to happen to Nebraska. FEMA is set to pay 70% of the damages. That leaves the rest from the counties and about $50 million from the state equaling 12.5% each.

“We've lined up one time expenses. Things like recovering from this flood with one time money which is from the cash reserve,” Governor Ricketts said. “So we entered the fiscal year very strong last year, we added $176 million to it.”

He also has proposed an additional $9.2 million to help the rural counties who may struggle footing the bill.

Property tax relief is always a priority for the unicameral. Local school districts said they don't see how property taxes will go down if there are no new taxes created like the governor is promising.

“So property tax relief, my concern is, if it is based upon future revenue, increases in revenue how stable is that?” Senator Steve Halloran said.

Senator Halloran points to three years ago when the state came up nearly a billion dollars short in revenue. He fears relying on a positive revenue isn't a great plan.

When it comes to the schools, Governor Ricketts wants to create an aid per student so all school districts participate.

“So this is a way for us to really take state dollars and swap them for those local property tax dollars and the way we're doing that is, and really guaranteeing we are getting property tax relief is, is bringing valuations down,” Governor Ricketts said.

The governor hopes with his plan it can help with the rural schools not getting the equalization funding. The big budget adjustment for schools by the governor is providing an additional $12.5 million to fully find the TEEOSA school aid.

Senator Halloran said there is a big property tax plan that is going to be revealed next week so the public can expect to learn more about it after the weekend.