Janssen Will Serve On Tax Reform Commission


Janssen Will Serve On Tax Reform Commission

February 27, 2013 11:00 am  •  By Sen. Charlie Janssen

Tax policy continues to be at the forefront of our work in the Legislature this month.

Last week, the Revenue Committee, per the request of Governor Heineman, indefinitely postponed LB405 and LB406. These bills sought to eliminate or reduce the individual and corporate income taxes through repeal of several sales tax exemptions.

It was apparent from the majority of the public input that these plans did not have the support needed to advance further in the legislative process.

My colleagues and I who serve on the Revenue Committee will focus our attention on other ways to achieve state tax policy reform.

One way we expect to do so is through the creation of the Tax Modernization Commission. This concept, introduced as LB613, had its public hearing before the Executive Board of the Legislature on Feb. 19.

LB613 called for the creation of a commission consisting of the Speaker of the Legislature, chair and vice-chair of the Revenue Committee, chair and vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, chair of the Education Committee, and chair of the Planning Committee. Ex officio members were the Tax Commissioner, Property Tax Administrator, Legislative Fiscal Analyst, and two tax experts employed by a Nebraska university.

Later discussions resulted in changes in the membership of the commission. I will serve on the commission with the seven other Revenue Committee members as well as the chairs of the Appropriations, Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Planning Committees. The Tax Commissioner, Property Tax Administrator, and Legislative Fiscal Analyst will be nonvoting members.

I felt it was important to include the chair of the Agriculture Committee since agriculture is such a vital part of our state's economy. I am pleased that my colleagues adopted my suggestion.

LB613 directs the commission to focus on six elements: 1. fairness, 2. competitiveness, 3. simplicity and compliance, 4. stability, 5. adequacy, 6. complementary tax xystems.

The Commission will conduct several public hearings through the state, utilize web-based resources to solicit input, and hold a tax summit. It is possible that the tax summit will be held at the Nebraska State Fair. A report with recommendations to modernize Nebraska's tax code will be issued before Dec. 15.

I urge Nebraskans from all parts of our state to participate in this study. We have been utilizing a tax code, with only slight modifications, that was established in 1967. Times change and we must respond. I will be pressing my colleagues to ensure that meaningful tax policy reform and tax relief be our goals as we complete this assignment.

I'd like to wish Nebraska a happy 146th birthday on March 1. Statehood Day is a great time to reflect on all the things that make our state a wonderful place to live, work, and play. We are truly blessed to live in such a land of opportunity.

Please continue to share your thoughts with me on issues before the Legislature. 

Sen. Charlie Janssen represents District 15 in the Nebraska Legislature.