The countdown begins.
Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard dropped his proposal for a billion dollars in property tax relief into the legislative hopper on Thursday as supporters of a backup plan prepared to launch a petition drive to place the issue on the November general election ballot.
Next week, Gov. Pete Ricketts will come before the Legislature to outline an alternative tax plan that would combine property tax relief with personal and corporate income tax reductions.
"Here we go," Erdman said as he left his desk to present his bill for introduction on the second day of the 2018 legislative session.
And so the stage is set for an election-year tax reduction debate.
Erdman's bill (LB829) provides for property tax relief distributed through a state income tax credit or refund equal to 50 percent of local school property taxes paid by Nebraska taxpayers.
Erdman has estimated that will provide about $1.1 billion in property tax relief, beginning in 2019.
As the western Nebraska senator formally introduced his proposal, Trent Fellers of Lincoln completed preparations with the secretary of state for circulation of initiative petitions that would place the property tax issue on the November ballot for voter consideration if the Legislature does not act.
Fellers, who is executive director of Reform for Nebraska's Future, said he expects to begin circulating petitions within the next few weeks and gathering signatures.
Ricketts is planning to unveil some details about a renegotiated tax proposal that would add more property tax relief to a stalled bill (LB461) that is weighted more to personal and corporate income tax reduction.
That measure, as it now is framed, centers its property tax reduction feature on a new method of ag land valuation.
While raising strong concerns last week about the cost of the Erdman proposal, Ricketts has been engaged in negotiations to add more property tax relief to the pending legislation that he supported last year.
Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion, chairman of the Legislature's Revenue Committee, suggested this week that, although he is encouraged, the revised proposal appears to have "a very, very narrow path" to legislative approval.
Erdman said Thursday he has been encouraged by expressions of increasing support from urban homeowners for his own proposal.