FREMONT – The speaker of Nebraska’s Legislature has announced that the first session of the 106th legislature will end on Friday, May 31st – six days ahead of schedule – in a move opposed by District 15 senator, Lynne Walz.
“One of my promises to you, the people of District 15, was that I would go to Lincoln to find a solution to property tax relief, an issue that has only become more complex,” Walz said in a statement. “So far this year, we have heard only two serious considerations on the floor and neither of them had the momentum to reach 33 votes. I fear that another year without significant change will only lead to disaster. For that reason I will not be voting to adjourn the legislature on that day. I believe that, instead of giving ourselves time off, we should be using every chance we get to find a compromise,” Walz concluded.
Although property tax relief efforts stalled in the legislature this session, there were a few successes on other fronts, especially with regard to the State’s budget. “We were able to restore $25 million to the property tax credit relief fund,” said Walz. The appropriations committee also found $7 million in the budget to allocate to helping struggling nursing homes throughout the state. These items were included on the budget passed in the unicameral, which was delivered to Governor Ricketts and signed without a single veto. The budget was even pared down from the Governor’s recommendation of a 3.1% annual increase in spending – the unicameral passed a budget with just a 2.9% increase. “This is reflective of the nature of Nebraska,” said Walz, “and our fiscal responsibility.”
Walz’s own priority bill, LB570 known as the Olmstead Plan bill, passed in this session. The bill brings Nebraska into compliance with federal law as it relates to the care and social integration of Nebraskans with disabilities. The study associated with the plan came at a cost of around $45,000, but Walz says it was worth it to get the state into compliance. “If we were sued by the Department of Justice for not being in compliance it would cost the state hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in court costs and attorney fees, followed by years of costly oversight by the courts.”
As always, Walz invites her constituents to contact her with their questions or concerns. She can be reached at (402) 471-2625.