Monday was the 55th day of the session. Senators have picked up the pace as the days dwindle, though that comes with extended debate on some issues, including debate as to whether extended debate means just that or is in fact filibustering.
Measures that have fallen short to filibustering include paid family leave, SNAP benefits for persons convicted of drug felonies, increasing the minimum wage for tipped employees, and changing the valuation method for agricultural land.
The week began with 39 priority bills on General File awaiting first round debate. There are another 33 that are still held by committees. Debate on some of the scheduled items will be relatively quick; others are likely to be subject to “extended debate.”
Meanwhile, the Revenue Committee has been meeting to shape a tax reform/relief proposal, with a target deadline of April 15 (insert Tax Day joke here). Certainly, this will have some funding or mechanism aimed at property taxes. That could be increasing funding for the property tax credit, increased school funding through TEEOSA or a new formula, or a combination of both. This could include an income tax cut. This could include a sales tax rate increase and elimination of certain sales tax exemptions. The latter would likely draw a veto from the Governor. In one way or another, this will include ImagiNE Nebraska. All of this could be in one omnibus bill or a series of bills.
At some point, decisions will have to be made. Is there a point at which an increase in one tax becomes acceptable because of a meaningful decrease in another?
When the tax debate comes, it will be with a new state budget on the horizon. The Appropriations Committee is scheduled to release its spending recommendations by May 2. This will follow the April 24 meeting of the Economic Forecasting Advisory board, which will provide the Legislature with the official revenue bottom line for the budget. So there will be tension over how much tax relief can be provided while still ensuring revenues sufficient to fund a budget at levels acceptable to at least 30 senators.
Lots in play here, and plenty of work to go round in the remaining 35 meeting days.
Senior Director, Public Policy
808 Conagra Dr., Ste. 400, Omaha, NE 68102
Lincoln Office: 402-474-4960
Refer to the Public Policy page on the Greater Omaha Chamber’s website or contact Jennifer Creager or Tim Stuart at 402.474.4960 if you have questions.
Also, click here if you are interested in reading the Legislature’s Update of the happenings in Lincoln.