A pair of state senators who are running for governor offered up similar but competing tax-cutting plans Monday that they soon plan to introduce in the Legislature.
State Sens. Beau McCoy of Omaha and Charlie Janssen of Fremont showed that cutting taxes is sure to be a popular topic among the six Republicans vying for votes in the state's primary election in May. The lawmakers both rolled out their proposals in advance of a candidate forum in Hyannis, Neb., Monday night.
McCoy proposed legislation to expand a current property tax credit for Nebraskans and reduce the tax burden on farmland. He said he would also support pending bills in Lincoln that would reduce income taxes for all taxpayers, cut taxes on military retiree pay and exempt agricultural parts and repairs from sales taxes. And as governor, he said, he'd later push to repeal state income taxes on Social Security and the state's inheritance tax.
Janssen said he'll introduce a bill that will include ag land tax cuts and property tax credits similar to McCoy's, exempt both Social Security and military retirement pay from income taxes, and cut income tax rates.
Neither candidate offered up the total cost of their plans or much in the way of specifics on how they would pay for them.
McCoy said he believed his proposals could be phased in over time and paid for by “responsibly'' tapping the state's cash reserves, growing the economy and cutting state spending. He said he would later be offering up specific proposals for reducing state spending.
“We are a high tax state, and we have to change that,'' McCoy said.
Part of Janssen's funding solution is to introduce a bill that would require state agencies to identify “low utilization, low-priority and inefficient'' programs, create a commission to review programs for elimination, and require the Nebraska Department of Revenue to use new technology to track down tax scofflaws.
“I know we can get (tax relief) by making government accountable and regularly auditing for waste and inefficiency,'' Janssen said.
Both Janssen and McCoy were part of a special legislative committee that spent part of last year studying possible reforms to the state's tax system, but neither signed the group's final report.
The report concluded that Nebraska's tax system is comparable to other states and does not require “significant changes,” only some tax tweaks. State Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney, who headed the committee, has said he'll offer bills this session to index state income tax brackets for inflation to provide tax breaks for low- and middle-income taxpayers; expand the amount of business income subject to the state's lowest tax rate; and adjust tax brackets so that fewer Social Security recipients have to pay income taxes.
Gov. Dave Heineman has called on the 2014 Legislature to cut income taxes, corporate income taxes and ag land taxes but has not offered specific proposals.