Senator Joni Albrecht’s Weekly Update For District 17

WAYNE – Senator Albrecht started her update by applauding Nebraskans for their effort in economic recovery from COVID-19. Nebraska boasted the lowest unemployment rate in the nation for the month of June.

On the topic of unemployment, the senator reminded everyone that the extra $600 per week in unemployment collection expires on July 31. Also, starting this week (July 12) performing and reporting work searches are once again required for those collecting unemployment. The only exceptions for work searches include people that have an employer-confirmed recall date within 112 days of their layoff, people in approved training, someone that’s a union member with a hiring hall, or someone in a short-time compensation program.

Getting quality internet to rural areas remains a priority for the senator. This is especially important with so many people working from home. Albrecht serves on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. In February, the committee proposed the Broadband Internet Service Infrastructure Act. This act would make changes that were recommended by the Rural Broadband Task Force. This bill would provide expanded broadband access to rural areas.

Walmart in South Sioux City has helped with Walmart’s Veterans Welcome Home Commitment. This commitment has allowed Walmart to hire 250,000 veterans since Memorial Day in 2013. Nebraska contributed by hiring 2,200 veterans and promoting 421 veterans. Albrecht commended the South Sioux Walmart for their part in the effort.

Individual, commercial, and agricultural property tax relief remains an important topic for the senator. Reports indicate that there is still a struggle to get the necessary 33 votes to pass the property tax bill: LB1106. Outlined below are the changes being proposed with LB1106:

  1. Agriculture, horticultural & special valuations within the TEEOSA formula adjusted to 52%; residential, commercial/industrial & centrally assessed property adjusted to 83%
  2. Taxable property valuations for school districts: 55% for agriculture, horticultural & special valuations; 87% for residential, commercial/industrial & centrally assessed property.
  3. Acceptable ranges for property valuations by counties adjusted to 49-55% for agricultural, horticultural, & special valuations; 79-87% for residential, commercial/industrial & centrally assessed property.
  4. Foundation Aid, currently set at 2.23% of local income taxes to each school district from the State, under LB1106 in its currently proposed amendment would replace the Income Tax Rebate with 15% of net income, corporate, sales & use tax collections divided by statewide K-12 fall membership. Foundation Aid cannot be less than 15% of a school district’s basic funding.
  5. Base limitation on budget growth. Adjust from 2.5% Basic Allowable Growth Rate of expenditures, which has averaged 1.48% to 2.0% maximum allowable growth in expenditures.
  6. Budget authority, currently allowed to accrue unused budget authority year over year may access a maximum of 2.5% of additional budget authority annually. This would continue after 2020-21, however, would include a one-time reset of all school districts’ unused budget authority back to current year expenditures.  To eliminate budget authority hoarding, the 2.5% cap would be eliminated and districts that use the year over year budget method would be allowed to set base-year maximum expenditures at 110
    % of the most recent 2-year budget.
  7. Maximum levy of $1.05 per $100 valuation adjusted.

In summation, the bill would decrease dependence on local property tax for school districts. The State would pay a larger percentage of educational costs. Also, the school districts restrain from spending growth.

Albrecht asserted that the above changes could be altered. As it stands, this amendment would benefit District 17 taxpayers and schools.

The senator quoted former president John F. Kennedy to proclaim the need for this bill’s passage. The quote reads, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

As always District 17’s senator Joni Albrecht invited her constituents to share their thoughts, ideas, and questions by emailing her at jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov or by calling her office at 402-471-2716.

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