[News]

Legislative Update – July 2016

Sheila1113-2-150x150Contributed by Sheila O’Connor, AAF Omaha Board Member & Legislative Issues Chair

‘Key state senator: Broad tax relief possible without Kansas repeat’

(Lincoln Journal Star) — JournalStar.com reports that Papillion Sen. Jim Smith — who hopes to lead the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee next year — says the state “can enact comprehensive tax reform next year, including income tax cuts,” while avoiding the serious budget shortfalls that Kansas has experienced. The Kansas experience has been a favorite topic of special interests that favor higher taxes and more government spending. Sen. Smith said he “wants lawmakers to examine Nebraska’s existing business incentives, sales tax exemptions and tax credits for landowners, and see if more than $500 million in revenue lost to those efforts each year could be repurposed to provide more effective income and property tax cuts.”

See the original story here.
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‘Op-Ed: Sen. Jim Smith promotes new vision for tax relief’

(Lincoln Journal Star) — In an op-ed at JournalStar.com, Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion responds to a June 19 Journal Star editorial that called for a reduction of “local property tax rates, implying such a change should occur by raising state taxes.” Sen. Smith writes that he disagrees with the newspaper’s editorial, and that “individual taxpayers, businesses, military personnel and retirees all have been asking for tax relief for years.” The senator writes: “It’s time our state stops thinking so narrowly and instead seeks to broaden our tax base by providing comprehensive tax relief for all.” Sen. Smith adds that “the Nebraska Legislature could reduce local property tax rates immediately by forcing local levy limits to be lowered.” He blasted the Journal Star for calling income tax relief “counter-productive,” writing that “empirical studies find that income tax is among the most harmful taxes on economic productivity, more destructive than even sales and property tax.”

See original story here.
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‘Report: Economic growth expected in Nebraska through 2018’

(Grand Island Independent) — TheIndependent.com reports that while low commodity prices have placed pressure on Nebraska’s machinery manufacturing industry and ag sector, the latest long-term economic forecast from UNL’s Bureau of Business Research predicts moderate growth through 2018 for the state’s economy as a whole. However, “a shortage of qualified workers” could produce challenges, the UNL report notes. According to Cindy Johnson, president of the Grand Island Chamber, “of the many challenges that face Nebraska employers, workforce remains at or near the top.”

See the original story here.
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‘Report: State to see more jobs in construction, health, trucking, hotels’

(Lincoln Journal Star) — In further coverage of the new long-term economic forecast from UNL’s Bureau of Business Research, JournalStar.com reports that construction employment in Nebraska is predicted to “reach a record level this year and continue to grow in 2017 and 2018.” That is due “in part to an infusion of state tax dollars for roads projects.” The forecast predicts that more jobs also are on the horizon for health care workers, truck drivers and hotel staff. Meanwhile, “agriculture and machinery manufacturing are expected to be weak spots in the state economy.” Regarding Nebraska’s farm income, the story points out that after reaching a record $7.5 billion in 2011 and a near record in 2013, farm income dropped a total of 39% to a projected $4.5 billion in 2015 due to lower crop prices.

See the original story here.
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