Greetings District 36. During the second half of this year’s legislative session we will be focusing on some of the most important issues facing Nebraska. The Appropriations and Judiciary Committees recently held a joint hearing to address the corrections system in our state. The overcrowding of our prison system remains a concern. Last year the Legislature passed LB605 which was intended to reduce prison overcrowding. In addition, Governor Ricketts appointed Scott Frakes as the new Director of Corrections. Director Frakes reported that hard work is continuing but results are not yet in hand. Director Frakes is assessing the situation and is making significant recommendations which will be implemented during the next 12 months. It is imperative that Nebraska correct the situation of prison overcrowding or we will be subjected to a lawsuit and may be forced to build a new prison at a significant cost to taxpayers.
Over the past week there have been many discussions concerning the Governor’s property tax proposal, LB958. This piece of legislation would have a significant impact on all communities in our state. I have had the opportunity to talk directly with many city managers and mayors in District 36. The effect of LB958 would cause these communities to significantly curtail their ability to engage in economic development projects for the future growth of our state. It would reduce their ability to enter into inter-local agreements to save money and maintain reserves to help during times of stress. The best way to reduce taxes continues to be growing our state.
It is interesting how our communities have been drawn into the agriculture real estate tax problem. Our communities derive very little, if any, revenue from agricultural real estate taxes. It seems unfair and possibly an unintended consequence to penalize our communities as a way to decrease taxes on farm ground. This is a very complicated issue. Solutions will not be quick and will not be simple. I look forward to further discussions with members of the Legislature as proposals come out of the Revenue Committee. I sincerely appreciate the input I have received from communities in our legislative district.
The Legislature, along with all Nebraskans, was pleased to hear the report of the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board. This is further evidence that our states economy is strong and it is important that we make prudent financial decisions that will grow our state into the future.
Beginning in the weeks ahead we will be hosting Eggs and Issues meetings in Cozad (3-12-16), Gothenburg (3-26-16), and Lexington (4-9-16). Please attend so I can hear your input on issues facing the Legislature. If you would like more information about these events or other issues, please feel free to contact me by phone at (402) 471-2642 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again for your help and support.