Floor Transcripts

LB 1290 (1994)

Select File

April 5, 1994


CLERK:  Mr. President, new A bill, LB 902A, by Senator Wickersham.  (Read LB 902A by title for the first time.  See page 1727 of the Legislative Journal.)


Amendments to be printed, Senator Ashford to LB 1087; Senator Cudaback to LB 1257; Senator Avery to LB 1031; Senator Hall to LB 1210.  (See pages 1727-33 of the Legislative Journal.)


Mr. President, 1290 on Select File, no E & R, however, I do have an amendment from Senator Warner and Wickersham.  Senator, AM3649.  I have a note, Senator, you want to withdraw 3649 ...


SENATOR HALL:  Senator Warner.


CLERK:  ...  and substitute 4339.


SENATOR WARNER:  Yes.  (AM4339 appears on page 1719 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR HALL:  Senator Warner, to open on the amendment.


SENATOR WARNER:  Mr. President and members of the Legislature, I think this amendment is still...  I thought this amendment had been passed out and it hadn't been, so it is being reproduced-.  But we can talk about it and you will have it in your hands, hopefully, before we get too far along.  This amendment is to 1290.  LB 1290, you will recall, as introduced, delayed the implementation of using valuations by school district or by counties for the ...  whichever.  That was scheduled to go into effect this year.  It's had a lot of discussion.  The amendment that is being offered and was cosigned by Senator Withem and Wickersham and myself includes these following items.  Current law, you will recall, the data that is used for determining state aid in a school district is two-year-old data for both the student count, as well as the expenditure data.  This moves it up to one year old only, so it makes it much more rapid.  In addition, it will use a fall membership count instead of A final count of the previous year.  And it car, be adjusted later on even in that current year, but in that process there really is no need any longer for the.  .  .  for the extra growth that might have occurred in a school district because the data essentially will be current in any event.  The important thing is that it will use for determining the distribution of state aid the 1994 assessment data that the Department of Revenue is putting together.  It retains the concept of Senator Wickersham's




amendment which will hold an opportunity to hold hearings on that data before it becomes finalized.  For the 1994, the information is provided by July 1, after that it's June 1, which is the current law this year, but because of time there would be some delay.  It will use the...as I indicated, it will use the information that the Department of Revenue will have developed in adequate time.  If there is adjustments in valuation by the counties or the state later, it makes no difference because you will recall we're distributing the funds on the state aid valuation as opposed to assessed valuation as it currently is.  And then it also will require that the date for certifying the aid would be July 15th rather than July 1, which is the case this year.  My interest in this legislation, to start with, of course, was one of concern with the kind of data that was going to be used and '93 data, I felt, was ...  was very bad or at least not nearly as good as it could be.  There is still ...  it will still be true under this proposal, at least for 1994, that they will be using countywide rather than school district valuations for different classes of property, but there will be significant adjustments, I believe, possible so there will be greater equity among school districts than it would be with any information that was older than 1994.  For 1995, they will have it on a school district basis.  I am in support of this amendment because I think it does bring all the state aid distribution up to a much more current data which ought to ensure greater equity and I would urge the body to support it.


SENATOR HALL:  Thank you, Senator Warner.  Senator Withem, on the Warner amendment.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Senator Hall, members of the body, I would like to commend Senator Warner for this amendment and maybe comment that this type of situation is an example of the process working properly and we need examples like that in these waning days of the session.  If you recall, on 1290 there was a strong difference of opinion with Senators Wickersham and Warner on one side of the issue, indicated that they felt that the data that has been gathered by the Department of Revenue certified for this year was not adequate.  On the other side, you had Senators Moore and Withem arguing that if we delay then that will send the wrong message and it will be prelude Just to future and future delays.  And probably it didn't take any real rocket scientist to ...  and maybe I don't know what Senator Warner's degrees are in, maybe he is, in fact, a rocket scientist, I don't know, but it probably didn't take any ...  any brilliant




thinking to see that there was a middle ground here and this is the middle ground, The middle ground is simply we're not going to delay it but we're not going to use that what Senator Warner and Senator Wickersham thought was bad data either.  We are going to use the more current data.  The data will get increasingly better and better, particularly with the appropriation that we have in...  in the mainline appropriation bill, and we are going to do the adjustment factor.  It will be using better data than we thought we would ever have available .to us and it will continue to improve as years go by.  So I think this is a good compromise and my commendations to Senator Warner and others involved in doing this.  I think we now have a bill that will, you know, a win-win situation for both points of view in here and the public will benefit by passage of this bill more so than it would have had 1290 passed in its original fashion and much more so than it would have had those of us that were opposing 1290 had our way and no bill would have passed.  This is a good example of the system functioning like it should and I would urge you to support this amendment and with this amendment attached I would urge you then to advance LB 1290.


SENATOR HALL:  Thank you, Senator Withem.  Senator Robinson, on the Warner amendment.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Mr. Speaker, members of the body, I urge the body to vote yes on this amendment.  I think one good thing about it, it's not a vote by...via a print-out.  I think that's the current data and I think we should all vote to move this bill along.  Thank you.  And the...  the Warner amendment, excuse me.


SENATOR HALL:  Thank you, Senator Robinson.  Is there any other discussion on the Warner amendment?  Seeing none, Senator Warner, to close.  He waives closing.  The question is the adoption of the Warner amendment.  All those in favor vote aye, opposed nay.  Have you all voted?  Record, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  25 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on the adoption of Senator Warner, Withem's and Wickersham's amendment.


SENATOR HALL:  The amendment is adopted.  Anything further on the bill?


CLERK:  Senator Will would move to amend.  Senator, AM3338.  (The Will amendment appears on page 1127 of the Legislative






SENATOR HALL:  Senator Will, on the amendment.


SENATOR WILL:  Thank you, Mr. President, and members of the body, this is an amendment that deserves a long discussion.  it probably will not get one.  What this amendment would do is ...  would calculate the value of agricultural land at 100 percent of market value for the purposes of distributing LB 1059 monies.  This gets back to the issue of exactly what it means when we do decide to value property differently for property tax purposes.  We have made a number of decisions in recent years, including the classification of agricultural property, the classification of personal property, the exemption of a number of items of property from the tax rolls.  The result is that we have had a substantial burden of the property t ax fall upon residential property and I think that there was an acknowledgement of that when the voters decided to vote for t he constitutional amendments that have allowed us to classify ag land property.  I don't know that that acknowledgement extends to the area of state aid because that is where it has an impact because we are artificially classifying property at a lower value in certain taxing districts throughout the state.  If you decide to base state aid on the level at which property is valued, that boosts state aid to those areas at the expense of other areas of the state resulting in a shift in where state aid dollars are going.  And simply that's something that I think ought to be flagged.  Somebody ought to talk about it when we're talking about an issue like this.  And I've always been a supporter of LB 1059.  1 believe that there should be mo re dependence upon state sales and income tax dollars for the support of local school districts, but I happen to believe that when you start distributing those dollars you ought to use a more pure system than the one that we have for assessing loc al taxes right now.  I think it's an equity issue.  It's something that ought to be explored fully.  Obviously, at this point in the session, this is not something that...  it might get a fair amount of debate on it.  I know the amendment probably wouldn't go anywhere and 7 would hope the body would appreciate the fact that I'm going to pull this amendment at this time.  But I do want to read the statement that this is a legitimate issue.  It's something that ought to be talked about and it's something that I think we should continue to talk about as we examine ways to further reform the system that we have that relies so heavily upon property taxes and perhaps find a better way to maybe




organize our school districts, which is always something that I have contended would save us a good deal of money if we could find a more efficient way to deliver educational services in the state.  With that, Mr. President, I would ask that this amendment be withdrawn.


SENATOR HALL:  Senator Will.  No objection, so ordered.  The next item on the bill, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Senator Withem, you have the next amendment, Senator.


SENATOR HALL:  Senator Withem.  They are withdrawn.  Anything further?


CLERK:  Senator Rasmussen.  (AM3672 appears on page 1213 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR HALL:  Senator Rasmussen.


SENATOR RASMUSSEN:  Mr. President and members of the body, I was a dutiful student of the lecture we got this morning from our Speaker, and in the interest of recognizing the need to pass this legislation as well as the time that many of you gave me on another piece of legislation, I am going to withdraw this amendment.  I do want to say that it was an effort to recognize the importance of establishing minimum wages for teachers, that we still have over 400 teachers in this state that are making less than 17,000, some of them as low as 12,000, 10,000 dollars for a school year.  I don't think we'll ever get to producing the kind of education and the students that we want to have if we don't recognize the value of teacher and providing that value in terms of their salaries.  But, in the interest of moving things along and appreciation for the support of the HELP funds earlier, I am going to withdraw this amendment.


SENATOR HALL:  Thank you, Senator Rasmussen.  It will be dutifully withdrawn.  The next item, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Senator Withem, you have the next two amendments.


SENATOR HALL:  Senator Withem withdraws both amendments.


CLERK:  The last amendment is an amendment by Senators Warner, Withem and Wickersham.




SENATOR HALL:  Senator Warner, for all three members, withdraws that as well.


CLERK:  I have nothing further on the bill.


SENATOR HALL:  Senator McKenzie, on the bill.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Mr. President, I move LB 1290 be advanced to E & R Final.


SENATOR HALL:  Thank you.  You've heard the motion.  The question is debatable.  Senator Elmer, your light is on.


SENATOR ELMER:  Thank you, Senator Hall.  I had to get up and comment on Senator Will's timely notice to us that the school funding problem is not going to go away and it cannot rely on property tax as heavily as it does now.  Residential people are feeling it, ag people are feeling it.  And I think that the comments are proper.  We need to address it., I hope we are able to in the coming years.  Thank you.


SENATOR HALL:  Thank you, Senator Elmer.  Is there any other discussion on the motion to advance?  Seeing none, Senator Warner.  You've heard the motion.  The motion was made by Senator McKenzie.  All those in favor of advancing LB 1290 say aye.  Opposed.  The motion carries, the bill is advanced.  Mr. Speaker, to be recognized.