LB 1114 (1996)
April 11, 1996
... somewhere in there in the middle, but that it is the opportunity for a process to begin. And I want to just express my appreciation for those who've taken the patience and the time. Some of you have taken a tremendous amount of pressure and have been pulled from a lot of different ways. And there'll be other speakers, perhaps, today that'll voice those opinions. But the bottom line is, you really are doing a service to the state, the entire state, even though it may be painful at times to do. And to those people particularly who have had some problems with these bills and what they may mean, those problems are only out for their citizens and their constituents, and I think that's what we have in mind here as well. I appreciate people's patience, acceptance of the property tax package and I'd like to withdraw the motion, thank you.
SPEAKER WITHEM: It is withdrawn. Mr. Clerk,, read the bill, please.
CLERK: (Read LB 299 on Final Reading.)
SPEAKER WITHEM: All provisions of law relative to procedure having been complied with, the question is, shall LB 299 pass with the emergency clause attached? All those in favor vote aye, opposed vote nay. Mr. Clerk, record.
CLERK: (Record vote read. See page 2029 of the Legislative Journal.) 36 ayes, 11 nays, 2 excused and not voting.
SPEAKER WITHEM: LB 299 passes with the emergency clause attached. Mr. Clerk, LB 1114.
CLERK: Senator Bernard-Stevens would move to return the bill, Mr. President.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members of the body. Unlike Senator Kristensen, I'll at least leave the motion up for anyone who wishes to discuss pro and con to at least make, a comment. I think on issues that are such of importance, I think it's only the fairest thing to do. I would have made some of the comments on 299, but I'll go ahead and combine both of the two on this particular one. Nothing that anyone says today
is going to change any of the votes. Everyone knows that. But there are a couple things that I at least want to try to get into the record for myself at least and that is I hope the members of the Legislature --'o some soul searching, not before this vote because this is already a given, but after this vote is taken and what's going to be to come, because this has been an easy decision in my view for most of those in the Legislature because it didn't hurt anybody in the Legislature. We don't have any dollars at stake. We didn't have to cut any programs. Fact, we went ahead and we're going to have new computers. We're doing just fine. We haven't consolidated anything in the Legislature. In fact, we didn't even cut any of our spending. In fact, we have so much discipline the other night, even with six of the nine Appropriations Committee members voting in favor, we voted to go ahead and spend more than our 3 percent reserve. If you look at our balance sheet on the green sheet after Final Reading today we'll be at 2.91. We won't even have...we didn't even have the discipline in this body to keep the 3 percent reserve. So, I mean, it's been an easy year for us, no problems. A year from now and two years from now is where it's going to get real difficult because you're going to have to ... you're going to have to fess up to what you're going to do here today, because a year or two years from now you're going to have to ... you'll be faced with the real reality of what you're doing to local subdivisions. And I've heard Senator Warner say on the floor time and time again that if you want to look at efficiency in government go to county government, go to the local areas of county government and some of those areas of political subdivisions. That's where you'll find real efficiencies in government and that's who were, Senator Kristensen, in his wonderful way of talking about the local areas, we have trust in them. Of course, we have trust in them. They have an efficient government. What we're doing to them is something we would never want to do to ourselves. If somebody would have put an amendment on the budget that we go to a two percent lid and a zero percent lid, we would have never passed that amendment here on the floor of the Legislature because that would have dealt with us. We would have had to make some tough decisions.. So this one is easy. It's just other people. And .we pretend, in my judgment, by our voices and our sincerity in our voices how concerned we are. When you look at what we're going to do on 299 and 1114, here are some of the things that you're going to have to think about and come to grips with next year. We have been fighting for the last ten years to get some
sense of equality in funding of education. Where the poorer school districts, and we're not doing away with property tax so we still have poorer school districts defined as those that have poor land values, try to get aft equal opportunity for their children In education to compete with those that have better opportunities of those with higher values. Those with poorer land values, for the most part, will have a higher levy if they're trying to compete and trying to get up there to have their kids have the same opportunity, if the school board and the people want to do so. Those are the ones that for the most part will have the high levy. Those are the ones that we cap and we put down to the $1.10. You go back to other school districts that are ... that, for the most part, have the high value, and again Inland is the one that comes to mind this year. Senator Bohlke smiles. We've had Verdigre and Venango and Inland it seemed like this year. Tell me how Inland's going to be hurt with their 89 cent levy. Tell me how they're going to have to cut back now with the 89 cent levy. And then talk to me about what schools are going to do that are at a dollar fifty, upper forties, dollar forties and so on, some in the dollar seventies. Tell me what they're going to have to do. And then let's start talking about quality of education because the studies that are out now say that the dollars that are being spent in education in the areas of increasing teacher pay and decreasing the class sizes are the most valuable dollars being spent today in quality, in achieving higher test scores and quality education. Look at Tennessee for the classic example. Look at Tennessee for the classic example. And what we're doing today is we're actually going to begin reducing* teacher salaries, for the most part, because if you look at here's what teachers are going to have to do now when they negotiate. over the next few years. Their school district will be at a two percent and zero; maybe they'll be up a percentage point from that. They're going to be facing severe caps in two years from now with no guarantees that there's going to be a change in those caps. So if they negotiate and they get a settlement that they don't like, and if they go-to CIR and they get a negotiated settlement that they like, here's their choice--the school district will have to pay so the teachers will get the increased salary, but they'll have to lose staff because they won't I;,-: able to have as many faculty. So the teachers now are going to be at this particular phase in the bargaining when they get into it next year. They're going to be saying, well, do we try to get more money, at least maybe a cost-of-living adjustment to
try to encourage people to be teachers, or do we go with virtually no increase, maybe no increase whatsoever, possibly even a decrease I suspect, and save and protect jobs? That's where they're going to be at in the next couple years. And go back just a few years where on the floor of this Legislature people said, you know, we really need to encourage the really sharp young people to get into teaching and we need to get those salaries up there. Look what we're doing today. You know, when we said we really need to try to get the best people in education, reward them and try to give them a learning that's manageable and reasonable, we're doing exact opposite after today. Where we on this floor talked about we want to try to equalize educational opportunity and by the tax ... by the levy cap and spending lids you lock in those inequalities until this body decides to change it., You lock them in. There will be no way short of this Legislature increasing taxes to shift monies to those subdivisions, particularly schools, for those inequalities to become unlocked. And you sit and look in your heart of hearts and ask yourself the question when push comes to shove and elections come around next year and two years from now are you going to vote for a tax increase? Are you going to vote for a tax shift? Is the state chamber going to stay on their view of no tax shift? I suspect so. Will the Governor stay on his view of no tax shifts? I expect so. Would the Lieutenant Governor, if she happens to be Governor, continue her policy of no tax shift? I expect so. Would people in the body who already argued that they don't like certain taxes be willing to let those taxes increase, or just the one that you want to increase? For example, maybe my rural colleagues want to do a tax on food or sales tax, but they don't want to do income. If food and sales doesn't go will you vote for an income tax? Or if the income tax doesn't go, those people that don't like sales tax, will you vote for a sales tax and will you have the votes to do it in the body? This is the body that can't even keep its 3 percent reserve. This is a body when we got to the final votes no one on the Appropriations Committee stood and said, we can't do this, we have to hold the line, this goes below the 3 percent reserve. This is the body a year from now that's going to come back and say, we've got what it takes, we'll take the tough decisions, we'll increase taxes. I don't see it. I don't see it. What I do see happening is that ...
SPEAKER WITHEM: One minute.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: ..those inequities that we have locked in are going to affect children and school districts throughout the state of Nebraska for a long, long time, a long time. And whereas most of you probably don't have children In the high school any more, oh, you'll have family members that do and you remember when you were on the school board or what have you, the fact of the matter is, most Nebraskans and most people in here do not have children in the schools. In fact, most Nebraskans today vote no on property tax issues regardless of the educational content because we're voting on pocketbook now. And this tax package is not an education tax package. It's a Revenue Committee tax package based on money, on tax policy. And when push comes to shove I don't think we're going to be there when the bell rings for us to be there a year from now. Now, I'm going to be voting no, but my position certainly is going to be when this becomes law...
SPEAKER WITHEM: Time, Senator.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: ..I'll do everything I can to make it successful. I just don't think there'll be 24 other people there at the end.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Warner.
SENATOR WARNER: Mr. President, members of the Legislature, just briefly, I think there's been two excellent presentations on the issues this morning, but Senator Kristensen pointed out it's just part of a process. One of the real results of this. process over the next two years with the assistance of local entity governing bodies and citizens is we're going to have an opportunity to change public perception and confidence in government, because there's going to be an opportunity to really look at how things are being done and I believe there can be a great many positive results. And yesterday noon I went with a meeting that Senator Engel had asked at South Sioux City Chamber of Commerce, or Dakota Chambers ... County Chamber of Commerce, but there was seven. There was a couple of school ... there was a school administrator, superintendent. There was some city officials, county officials and they started telling us about all the cooperative programs they do have in place, things that they're planning to do. And then I was particularly impressed with Van Phillips, who was Superintendent of the Year last year,
an excellent superintendent, who was very complimentary about the whole package and his comment was to this effect; that, you know, we can't continue to do things as we have and this is an opportunity for us to look at to do things differently, better, build up public confidence, and I thought... I wished the -whole body could a sat and listened to these people talk who are already doing on their own much of what's envisioned in this whole group package, but they also looked on-this as even a further opportunity. And the mutual support that those various entities had, one for the other, was exceedingly gratifying and I firmly believe that if this legislation, group of bills, can generate that same kind of cooperative spirit that I saw yesterday that the confidence in the citizens in government, that we can have a real turning point. Instead of government being bad and evil and annoying, it can return to what I used to know when government was looked upon as ... with great respect, great confidence, public support, and I think that can be the end result of this and I would hope that the body would continue to give that opportunity a chance to build that public confidence again that I think can be the end result of all of this. No disaster is going to occur. This body won't let it happen. But what can happen is all positive and I would hope that is the attitude that everyone would participate in over the next two years.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Thank you, Senator Warner. Senator Robinson.
SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. Speaker, members of the body, I just had a few comments. First thing I want to do, I want to applaud Senator Warner, what he has done since last spring and also to his staff members, #cause I think they have done a very commendable piece of work by, and also the Revenue Committee, by bringing these bills to us. One thing on... just want to address the point that Senator Bernard-Stevens said about the state ... the Unicameral not doing their job. If you remember, I got up on 299 and I asked Senator Wehrbein what are we going to tell our people when we're not cutting, and when we got done, the dust settled, we're increasing our budget 1.6 percent. We're sending 57 million dollars back to the subdivisions. Now, are they going to send that money back so we're going to ... so we're going to have some extra money? No, they're not going to send that back. Now when you go back and talk to your people, say we're increasing our taxes 1.6 percent. That's what it is for state government. We're sending 57 million dollars back to
the subdivisions. That's what we're doing. And I don't think the world's going to come to an end like Senator Bernard-Stevens said. It's like Senator Warne,: said--we're not going to have a disaster take place. It's interesting when the com ... we passed the computer bill, West Point, Nebraska, headlines: Senators Pass Computer Bill. Well, of course, being as liberal, as I am, I voted for that. Well, I called the owner of the paper up that night and, well, he was a little sheepish about it. He said, well, my editor wrote that, the letter. And I didn't notice but my wife did the ... in the same paper he was applauding how great computers were, the owner was, but it was his editorial writer that wrote how the Legislature was spending all this money on computers. One thing we haven't talked about, what-if we didn't do anything, Senator Bernard-Stevens, just kept rolling on as we have been? Oh, Eddy Jaksha would be right out there in front and he still may be out there in front. If we think cutting spending ... no spending for three years on all local governments, including the state, you've got another thing coming, Senator Bernard-Stevens. The tears really will be rolling down those cheeks' of yours if that happens, I'll tell you. And we talk about teacher/pupil load. I don't think there's anyone in here can cite any empirical evidence what the right teacher/pupil load is. I think you have to get down around 13 to I where teacher/pupil load really makes a difference on learning. I have a letter coming from Jim O'Hanlon, who's the head of Teachers College. I wrote ... we talked to him a few weeks ago. I don't think we really know. We get up and we spout off and say we got to have this and that. I don't think we really know what the right teacher/pupil load is. We probably have ... we probably have too many teachers. We probably have too many principals. We probably have too many superintendents in this state if we compare ourselves to Iowa. Heck, they consolidated 30 years ago. When Bernard-Stevens talks about the three schools that have mill levies of ... in the eighties, I have one. It shouldn't be, but we've allowed that to happen and it has to change...
SPEAKER WITHEM: One minute.
SENATOR ROBINSON: ..some way. I made a presentation to the Lions Club in Blair Monday night, but you know what I started out with? I started out with information on how ... how property taxes had increased. And I listed, I give them the information on how much special education increased, how much property taxes
for schools had increased and how much state aid had increased, and then I listed all the subdivisions. Take a look at that and absorb it. That's the reason we're here today talking about these bills and there are going to be some changes made, you know it and I know it, and there will be no disaster take place. Thank you.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Like to pause here a second and introduce some guests of the Legislature. We have 40 fourth graders from Senator Schimek's district, Roper Elementary School, with their teachers. We also have 40 fourth graders from Fort Calhoun Elementary School with their teacher, from Senator Robinson's district. And the Doctor. of the Day, under the north balcony, is Dr. Pumphrey from Lincoln. Could all of you please stand and be recognized. Senator Wehrbein.
SENATOR WEHRBEIN: Mr. Speaker, members, I'll be just a couple minutes. I too was struck yesterday at the South Sioux City Chamber and I will kind of repeat couple... some remarks I made myself a couple weeks ago about my disappointment, or at least frustration, in the lack of entrepreneurship, for lack of a better word, that I am seeing in some of the response to the bills that we're talking about right now. And I've also been impressed by others, such as South Sioux City, that have been doing some of this already for several years. Actually, in southeast Nebraska there is going to be a meeting of some sort that I was just made aware of the last couple days to try to look at ways government can work together. And so I think we have...it behooves us to take some leadership roles in these areas of encouraging and having functions over the next few months to see what can be done, that we can have an entrepreneurial spirit. And it disappoints me, especially in some times in the school situations, that our ... the attitude is the world is falling, that the roof is caving in, we can't do it. Certainly in most businesses, certainly in agriculture we have seen that over the last several years where you have to respond or you don't survive. So there's room, I think, for innovation and improvement in this area and a lot of it has to do with attitude. And so I think that we need to all examine, including this body, as we look to try to do some reorganization at state government. I think we have tried this session very hard in reorganizing through some of the bills that we've passed already, some that have failed and had to be pulled back, in this case on Senator Wesely. Well, we've tried to do some
reorganization and see what the resistance is to change, so change... resistance to change is every place. I know we can't automatically say all change is good because certainly it isn't, but on the other hand it is going to occur whether we stop it- or impede it or whether we encourage it. I think a lot of it has to do with attitude. So I think what we're doing is at least leading the way. Obviously, doing things is not always going to be right when you're out in front such as I think we are on these issues, thanks to the Revenue Committee. There's going to be some mistakes made or at least it isn't going to always go the right direction, but I think attitude has to be among everyone in this state that if we're going to do something about the property and the tax issue in general with the amount of people we have we've got to continue to look forward and say I'm going to do it; I'm not going to say, oh, there's an obstacle, there's a... I can't do it. The attitude is going to be I am going to go over it, I'm going to go around it, I'm going to go under it. Somehow we, all together in this state, are going to make some progress in this area. So if the Legislature can be a leader in this area through these bills so be it and I applaud the efforts and I urge you to support 1114.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Vrtiska, followed by Senators Bromm, Bernard-Stevens, Hillman, Bohlke, and Abboud. Senator Vrtiska.
SENATOR VRTISKA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'll be very brief. I just have to make a comment. Senator Bernard-Stevens, the words that you spoke were exactly the words that I heard at the start of this process. Everybody was up in arms. I got calls from superintendents, from state... from city administrators singing the blues they couldn't do this. But you know what? The last week or ten days the attitude is completely reversed. People are saying, we knew this had to come about and we're going to find a way to work through it; it's not going to shut down all of our institutions; it's not going to be as devastating as we had thought it would be and we think we can work our way through it. What it really comes down to, do we really want to follow the lead of other states in trying to in some way, and certainly not the federal government, but in some way stop wild spending and still try to accomplish the things that are needed for our students, for our cities and so on? So I guess my message is, yeah, the negative attitude that you displayed, Senator Bernard-Stevens, was something that I heard very often at the outset of this whole process when the ideas
were brought forth and suggestions were made on them, but as of now I'm not hearing such a negative response. I'm hearing, you 'know, it's here; we have to learn how to deal with it and we're. going to do it. And I think that's ... those people would be applauded. School superintendents who called me the last few days ask a couple questions and have said, very frankly, we knew it was going to happen and we're going to work our way through it and we may have to make some adjustments that we don't necessarily like but we can manage. That may not be true in every single instance, but I'll tell you right now the majority of the people that have called me have been responding and I think in a very positive way that they understand the process. They've heard some from the taxpayers too and they understand that something has to happen. We are not the federal government. We don't print money. We can't just keep things rolling along, as Senator Robinson said, and never looking back and saying we can do all these things because we got all the money we need, don't worry about it, we'll just move ahead. So I ... my good friend, Mr. Bernard-Stevens, I have to disagree with you that the sky is not falling and I think we can get through this process and still survive. Thank you.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Bromm.
SENATOR BROMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don't want to be remiss in not remembering to thank Senator Warner and his staff and the Revenue Committee for a lot of hard work. When the process started I know there was a considerable amount of time spent by Senator Warner meeting with small groups of senators and talking about the principles or the elements that would have to be included in any package like this. Those elements included, as I recall, doing something that was significant in the way of property tax reform, which would require at least a 20 to 25 percent reduction in property taxes. It would have to be something that would take place over a period of time so as not to be a hatchet type California Proposition 1300 ... or 13 approach. It would have to be something that would be a firm commitment to a long-range process of finding some replacement revenue and that it would require people to bend and stretch and search and try to figure out ways to do things that we have to do and want to do for less money than we've been spending. And to go from those principles, that were I think very good principles but hard to quantify, to the package that Senator Warner and Revenue Committee has fashioned I think is a
remarkable piece of work and, although the discussion has been going on for a long, long time, the parts and pieces haven't all come to mesh until the last few weeks. And I commend the work and the commitment and, as I go out and 'visit with school districts and city clerks and mayors, I don't have any qualms about telling them that we have made a commitment, Senator Warner has made a commitment, Revenue Committee has made a commitment that this is part of a process and that this is only one piece of work of the entire project but it's a very important piece of the project. So I don't have qualms about voting for this bill. I am...I am proud to have the opportunity to do it and I realize that our work is far from done. We'll be back at the ... be back at the desk and burning the midnight oil getting the rest of the package put together next year, but this is an excellent start. I think it should go a long ways in restoring, if not the confidence of everyone else, at least our confidence in ourselves in the ability to take on a very, very difficult project and make substantial progress in accomplishing the goals. Now the people may choose to do something different than what we're suggesting here and if they do they do. That's the democratic process. But I think we have given them a road map here which is one that I hope they will look at very carefully and agree that in the long run Nebraska and all of Nebraska, schools, cities, villages, will be better off for having taken this journey in the manner in which we're doing it, deliberately, carefully, but with significant steps, an impact that will eventually I think allow our respective political subdivisions to function longer and more efficiently than they .would have otherwise if we had let things just go as they were. Thank you for your time and I hope you'll support 1114.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members of the body. I've been around educators a long time, probably more than most people in the body have, certainly with some exceptions--those that have been in the education field itself And everyone talks about the meeting they were at yesterday and, you know what, I just kind of chuckle at that because I don't think people understand yet what educators are like in the state of Nebraska. Yeah, they'll make it work. I mean these are the people that teach for something that you and I would not want to do. They work with the... all of the mandates we give them. They have a class size somewhere between 28 to 40, the
class ... largest class I had was 44, and they deal with all the children. They deal with the specially... special needs. They deal with those that are prone 1 o behavioral disorders. They deal with the gifted and those that are ... that have speech impediments and have a difficult time even communicating all in the small classroom. Why is anyone surprised when you get to the cream of the crop and they say, we will make it work? Because that's what they do and that's who they are. otherwise, they wouldn't be where they are today in education. So for people to draw the conclusion, however, that because the educators that are the good ones are saying we will make it work, thus, everything id fine and this is for the best, is nuts and close to foolhardy. They know good and well what's going to happen and they will do as I'm going to do after this becomes law--work as hard as possible to make this work because there is no other alternative. There is no other alternative you're in education. You have to put a "smiley" face. How can you go to your kids or your school district and say how terrible things are going to happen because it affects all the morale, it affects everything? You put the "smiley" face on and you say we will make this work. But then you look at the end and you start asking some questions. Did it work for all Nebraskans, or was it just for a select few, those that had high land values? Who had to cut back the most, and which children were affected the most? And how do you define a disaster? How do yon define that? I have never on the floor stood up and said buildings are going to close, hundreds of teachers are going to lose their jobs, education as we know it will fall down. That's nonsense. I ask anyone to find in the record where I've said that. I have never said that. You have said that, not I. You are defending those that you think are saying the sky is going to fall. The sky is not going to fall in any measurable tone that you're going to see. How do you measure a disaster to an education of a child who now is going to be in a class of 35, who, as Senator Robinson said, and unfortunately there are too many people in this Legislature who believe that, that there are too many teachers so we'll get rid of some of those teachers because we have too many of them out there. We don't need that many. And we put a class of 35 with all of the problems that our society has with fewer teachers. How do you measure the education quality that the children have in defining of what an education disaster is? And I've had people on this floor stand up and say any life is sacred; if you can save one life it's worth it. But isn't it interesting when ...
SPEAKER WITHEM: One minute.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: ..areas of abortion and other areas are away from us, that that one mind does not have as much value? Because we don't stand up for that. When I speak the next time, the one area I want to talk about is what Senator Warner is not talking about and maybe I'm going to bait him to talk about it a little bit, but that's the perception of what we're doing on property tax. Because the reality of what we're going to be doing on property tax and the expectations you are setting up to the public on property tax are in direct conflict and when the public actually understands that their perception that you are creating will not be met, the frustration is even going to be greater than it is now. And I'll talk about that, the perception of the real ... and what the reality truly is the next time I get a chance.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Hillman.
SENATOR HILLMAN: Yes, Mr. Speakers (sic), members of the body, I've been listening to this and one subject came up a couple times and I just couldn't pass the opportunity to make a few remarks. But first I too appreciate the leadership that the Revenue Committee has offered in at least putting some proposals out there that we could look at and make some decisions on. The other thing I've heard is quite a bit of talk this morning about some communities in the area of South Sioux City, Dakota County and in that area and the things that they're trying to do and that's why I just have to make a few remarks about the fact that one of the strongest supporters of LR 46CA was Lance Hedquist from South Sioux City and a group of people from that area that strongly supported 46CA, were extremely disappointed when it didn't pass because of the roadblocks it puts in their way to do the kinds of things that they currently wish to do. They can only go so far because in many instances they're dealing with elected officials who will not come to the table, who will not make the kinds of changes that they see important to make and, as a result of that, have had to lay many things to the side. We will be back next year with that same concept. I think. this body has got to realize there are many things out there when we require change that means we have to remove the roadblocks, look at what it is that's standing in the way of change, and we also have to make some of those decisions and, though they don't even
always cost money, they may cost us a little bit of uncomfortable time, but we're going to have to do that and I think that's just starting, many of the changes we're talking about, the increase in taxes and money, but there's going to be structural changes within state government and within local government that we're going to have to allow so that some of the things that we want to happen, some of the restructuring, the reengineering, the consolidation can happen because we currently have roadblocks in the way so that they can't always do what I think would be the best thing for them to do. I think communities in many instances are ready to do this, have thought about it in the past, and these tax bills will give them a little more impetus, a little more reasoning, an excuse, if you wish to call it that, to be able to say to the people in their district, but this really is something that we need to do. How many of you have been called and said, why don't you just mandate consolidation of schools; why don't you just go ahead and mandate it instead of asking us to do that kind of thing on our own? There is the need and even the want to do of a lot of things that we're asking them to do. I have a situation in my own county where on the 26th of April they have already scheduled a meeting of cities and schools and counties to look at what it is that they can do. They've done studies in the past and they'll drag those out again and they'll look at them. There's an opportunity with a superintendent that's leaving Gering and whether or not Scottsbluff and Gering should have one superintendent is discussed every time a superintendent -leaves. Well, one's leaving again this time and they are already looking at do we need to replace that superintendent and I think they'll be looking at it in a different light perhaps than they had before. So I think there will an impetus for communities to do perhaps in the past what they wanted to do. This will give them a little more, I think, support from the state 'cause I look at this as being supportive from the state, but we will need to go even farther in removing any roadblocks that perhaps is standing in their way and the future examined very carefully the ways that we can continue to support communities as they go through this change and, for that reason, I would support LB 1114 and the other revenue tax bills that look at reliance on property tax. Thank you.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Bohlke.
SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, Mr. Speaker and members. As others have
stated, I've listened carefully to the debate and respect everyone for caring very passionately about this issue. One statement, though, that caught my ear was one that said that this was an easy vote for many of us, and I stand to say I don't think it's an easy vote. I don't think it's an easy vote for even the members of the Revenue Committee bringing it out onto the floor. I had a call, like many of you, from a teacher who said to me, how could you as a former educator and as Chair of the Education Committee possibly vote for LB 299 and 1114? And I thought about that before writing back and this is what I said. It's because other senators and I care so very much about public education in the state of Nebraska that we think this is necessary. We have a long history in this state of the general population supporting public education. You've talked... you've heard me talk this session about Southern Valley and a $7 million bond issue and the auditorium filled with senior citizens who were supporting that. We have a long history of that kind of partnership with our schools. But as I look to the future, if we do not listen, if we turn a deaf ear to those people who say we need to do things differently, if we turn a deaf ear to those people who say I support public education but I'm at the limit of my property tax, if we turn a deaf ear to those people who say we must start to get a grip on our spending, if we do not react, then I think we destroy that partnership. And in the end, I believe that's what's devastating to public education in Nebraska. And because of that, I will stand and support these two measures and, no, it's not an easy vote. It's not an easy vote for those of you who will oppose these two measures. But in my opinion, I believe if we do not make ... take this step that in the end it will be more devastating for public education and the children in the state of Nebraska. Thank you.
SENATOR WESELY PRESIDING
SENATOR WESELY: Thank you, Senator Bohlke. Next speaker is Senator Abboud.
SENATOR ABBOUD: Thank you, Mr. President, members. At the beginning of the session, I had some constituents talking to me about property tax relief and it usually begins along the same lines as all the other years that I come down here and every year we talk about property tax relief and we talk about it and talk about it and we kind of bite off pieces along the side but
we really don't do much about it. And I said, well, I was hopeful that this year we'd do something about it because I know that it has really built up to the point where citizens are very., very concerned about it. They have their petition drives circulating. They talk about it in the coffee shops. They talk about it before school boards and city hall meetings. But I had no illusions that something this major would be accomplished by the Legislature and I think the fact that the Revenue Committee, Senator Warner as Chair, All the hard work that *Senator Kristensen put in on it and the other members of the Revenue Committee should be applauded by the Legislature because I know that they've taken a lot of heat. They spent a lot of time trying to formulate a package that would be acceptable by this body and, at the same time, assure the public that the Legislature was very much, in fact, concerned about property tax relief this year. So I want to thank them for taking the time and doing the work that was necessary and I think that it shows that in recent years I think the Legislature maybe hasn't come up the major packages, the major changes, and the fact that the a major accomplishment for this year. Now, saying all that, I want to also add that I think this is the very first step towards the property tax debate and the passage of LB 1114 is only one small step towards the reduction in property taxes. There will be bills brought in next year and the following year to deal with the passage of LB 1114 and how we will fully implement the changes for property tax relief and, with that in mind, I am going to be supporting this bill and also, because of the changes that were enacted by LB 1050 which severely damaged my... some of my school districts, I feel that this is really my only option to try to reformulate the state aid formula, which I feel needs to be done. And with the passage of this bill we will be back at the drawing board deciding on what is the proper approach towards funding to education and that is another reason why I'm going to be supporting LB 1114, because we certainly need to make changes in the state aid formula from what was enacted this year and it's my hope that we will have a fairer and better way of funding education than what was enacted by LB 1050, so that's one of the reasons why I'm going to be supporting the bill. And, finally, I'd like to say that I know that the ... some of the members will certainly take some heat for the passage of this bill, but that the general public I feel will be better served by a statutory change and the statutory limitations versus a constitutional change which will riot be able to be changed by this Legislature
or changed down the road when circumstances require it. So I would urge the body to support the passage of LB 1114. Thank you.
SENATOR WESELY: Thank you, Senator Abboud. Chair would like to take this opportunity to introduce two guests of mine from my district: Joe and Margaret Denning who are here under the south balcony. Will the Legislature please recognize our guests. Before we go to the next speaker, the speaking order will be as follows: Senator Fisher, followed by Senator Witek, Chambers, Robinson, Schimek, Bernard-Stevens, Beutler, Preister, and Stuhr. Senator Fisher.
SENATOR FISHER: Mr. President, presiding officer and members, I think a lot has been said about this bill and I think it's important that we do address it. I think it's important that we put it in statute, but I think the thing that you've missed a little bit is we have to look at these expenses. When you tell those people at home it's what's necessary that we need to spend money for, what we... it's necessary we need to spend tax dollars for, not what's not necessary. There's many things out there and I think we're going to find out that we're going to be able to operate. Being a businessman myself, I remember going through the eighties. I know how tough it was and other members in my district tell me that they've had to do it, we have to do it. I think it's going to start in ... even at that state level. I think we've got to begin looking at expenses and cutting those expenses. Un... fortunately or unfortunately, I do not think my district will receive any tax relief because they're below the limits ... levy set, but I think they're going to be very much aware of it. They're going to work hard and consolidating city and county services. I think that's important that we be aware of it. And when you talk to those constituents in your counties tell them that. Tell them they have to look for different ways as we do. The key again is what's necessary and what's secondary to expenditures of federal and state and county dollars. I'm going to support this. I think it's going to be a drastic change. I think we'll reap benefits. Short term, we're going to probably get some ... there are going to be some counties hurt and I heard Senator Warner say that this state has never turned their backs on any counties or schools that cant be... can't afford the proper education or the dollars for it, so we'll probably come back and make some appropriations and do some reevaluating of our formula for distributing funds to needy
school districts or lower income school districts, but I think it's going to be interesting. L I've seen it happen in the real world. I think we'll see it now happen in the government rule. Thank you.
SENATOR WESELY: Thank you, Senator Fisher. Chair recognizes Senator Witek. Question's been called. Do I see five hands? I do. Those in favor of calling the question, indicate by voting aye; those opposed vote nay. Clerk, record.
ASSISTANT CLERK: 27 ayes, 5 nays to cease debate, Mr. President.
SENATOR WESELY: The question's been called. The Chair recognizes Senator Bernard-Stevens to close on his motion.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Thank you, Senator Wesely, members of the body. I am going to bring this to a vote, so as a roll call I will then not vote and move to reconsider only because this is probably the biggest property tax measure, actually, it is probably the biggest thing this Legislature has done in a long time.. These packages are probably going to have the most effect on the most number of people and take us in a different direction, be it good or bad, than anything we have done in the Legislature since I can remember, at least, and Senator Warner can go much further back than that. But we don't want everyone to be able to at least have five minutes to state why they want to do, why they think they should do the way they want to do. I don't know what the hurry is. We've got some bills that we certainly will read on Final Reading. We don't have anything else today, but we just don't want people, I guess, to say anything. We want to just get it done, vote on it, get it out of the way; we want to go home. Well, a couple of things I want to talk about in closing before we get to the...before we get a chance to talk about it just a little bit more and, again,, I am not delaying. I just want to make sure that people who did want to say something can. And if no one wants to at the end of that, during the reconsideration if no one wants to speak on it, certainly I will withdraw that motion and we will move right on. The perception that is out there that we have created in the Legislature is that the public is going to have property tax relief. I almost laugh in a way because remember LB 1059. There was a perception out there that there was going to be property tax relief. You know, and there was. There was like
25 to 30 percent property tax relief when we did LB 1059, the one that passed, Senator Wesel--, you know a few years ago on school finance, but do you know what happened? What happened was only in certain areas of the state were there property tax relief, and other parts of the state there was no property tax relief because of the way that the schools were funded. And do you know what happened? The level of property taxes went from a point to a lower point and then continued to go up. And guess what? When you pass this bill and along with it LB 299 and the others, we are going to drop statewide, after the caps take effect two years from now down the line, we will drop, as Senator Bromm was saying, maybe 30 percent, 25, 30 percent property tax relief, and the people will think their problem was solved because they will be paying less taxes. Now this will be at a time when land values will have gone up, certain people will have no property tax reduction at all, and they think they are going to have a property tax cut. This will be a time when there will be a noticeable property tax reduction on the levy and they may actually pay less on property taxes in many areas, but it will continue to go up again, and they are going to say, I thought you guys were going to do something. In fact, I suspect the public thinks that next year they are going to see property tax relief, and do you know what the perception is going to-be then? I thought you people were going to do something, my taxes went up next year. And they will because the spending lids aren't going to do it on the property tax side. Talk about perceptions, the perception is that we've done something on property tax. All you've done is forced the crisis to decide whether we are going to shift the burden to another tax field. That's all we are doing here today.
SENATOR WESELY: One minute.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: It's a process and I want to, before 1 forget, I want to have a call of the house and a roll call vote on this particular motion. All we are doing today is setting up a process to deal with a crisis that we will create to shift taxes, and I wonder what my rural colleagues are going to do when if cattle prices are still down or the price of corn is still up but they don't have enough to sell and they are raising cattle so it's costing them more money. I 'wonder if their constituents are going to say, yes, please increase taxes a year from now. And I wonder what Omahans and Lincolnites are going to say when we say we'd like to increase income taxes and give
money to the schools. I wonder if the perception will be so radically changed that they will say, you know, those schools are really efficient, they really are doing a -good job, they need more money. And do you really think the public perception is going to change by what you do today, because they are not going to see any results for at least two years?
SENATOR WESELY: Time. Thank you. Although a request was made for a call of the house, we're under call because we're on Final Reading. If the body would please check in. For those outside of the Chamber, if you would please return to the Chamber. Senator Robinson, please check in. We're looking for Senators Bohlke, Lindsay and Pirsch. Senators Bohlke, Lindsay and Pirsch, please come to the Chamber. Senator Bernard-Stevens.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: (Microphone not activated.) The purpose is not to delay but simply to allow people to speak. Go ahead with the roll call.
SENATOR WESELY: Okay, fine. Thank you. Please call the roll, Mr. Clerk.
ASSISTANT CLERK: (Roll call vote taken. See page 2030 of the Legislative Journal.) Vote is I aye, 37 nays on the motion to return the bill.
SPEAKER WITHEM PRESIDING
SPEAKER WITHEM: The bill is not returned. Mr. Clerk.
ASSISTANT CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Bernard-Stevens. would move to reconsider the motion to return LB 1114 to Select File for a specific amendment.
SPEAKER WITHEM: It's a priority motion. It is in order. Senator Bernard-Stevens, to open on your motion.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And again, this is not to delay the bill but when I was up there, there were at least...well, there were about 15 people that were on the list. Most of those were people who had not spoken yet on the issue. And I don't know, I think Nebraskans kind of deserve to (a) have a good record of why we're doing what we're going to be doing, whether it's for the bill or not for the bill. If you
remember Select File, if you go back to the debate on the issue, we never really got to a zeal debate on the issue with the exception of a couple of amendments Senator Beutler did, one particularly dealing with the tax shift, and even that was not on the whole policy but more on the ... on a tax issue whether we should do sales tax or not. And if you go back ... well, if you just go backward, there hasn't been a time where people have just finally, stood up and said, this is why I'm voting this particular way. And I think it's good for the record for us to do that. I think we've gotten away from that sometimes in the past, so I do that... I do the reconsideration only for those that would like to, to get certain things on the record at least, and if no one else wants to speak, then we'll move right along. I yield whatever time I may have left to Senator, Schimek, if she so desires.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Schimek.
SENATOR SCHIMEK: Yes. Thank you, Mr. President, members of the body. I would like to thank Bernard-Stevens for giving us a little bit more time on this issue because this really is one of those gut-wrenching issues that comes along only once maybe or twice in a legislative session and maybe even in a legislative term of service. I think this is a very, very critical bill, and I wanted to tell you that when I was coming in this morning and thinking about how I was going to vote on LB 299 and LB 1114, 1 was thinking at that time that I was going to vote for 299 and I was probably going to vote against 1114. And the .reason is that 299 1 don't think is devastating in its impact. It's very similar to what we have in place now with 1099, the lid that's already in place. It takes it. maybe a couple of steps further which is going to be tough, but certainly not insurmountable. However, I have to tell you that as I looked over my bill file this morning and looked again at all those people who had called in or written in, it was overwhelming in my district. I only had one person call in and ask me to support LB 299, and so I cast my vote no also on 299. But I feel much more strongly about 1114, because I think it's going to have a potential, a potential devastating impact on my school district which right now is at a $1.59 levy limit. And when you talk about taking that levy limit down to $1.10, and $1.00 the second year of its implementation, you can't tell me that it's not going to have a very severe impact. Now, granted, there could be a saving grace, and we may come back next year and
figure out just how we could alleviate some of the pains of 1114 by finding another source of revenue. But to me that's backwards. To me, we should be coming back next year and passing LB 1114 if we don't see the kinds of results that we want with LB 299. Next year is not too late to pass 1114. What I guess ... probably what really, really took me over the edge on this issue and made up my mind for me was a letter that I got from my own chamber of commerce a couple of weeks ago, and I ,mentioned it earlier in debate. But when I see what they think we should be doing, which goes far beyond even what we're doing here, that really put the fear of God into me because I thought, what if we can't come back and pass a revenue bill, or what if we can't come back and undo what we've done. Then we really have, we really have changed the whole educational landscape in Nebraska. And I have too much pride in this state, and I have too much pride in the educational system in this state to do that unwittingly, or "wittingly" perhaps I should say. But what that Lincoln Chamber of Commerce letter said to me is that if we're to have meaningful tax reduction, then spending limits should be extended to include state government expenditures. Well, that, in principle, is fine until you think about the fact that next yea.- we may be dealing with very, very significant cuts from the federal level, plus we will be asked to do some kind of revenue makeup to '-he local subdivisions. The second thing that letter said was that spending limits, including those on state expenditures should be extended indefinitely, indefinitely. And thirdly, the tax rate cap should be extended to include state sales and income taxes. In other words, there shouldn't be another source of revenue. We should cap spending and we should cap levy limits, and that should be the end of it. I can't... I can't buy that and until I can see that we are going to do something which will relieve those local subdivisions, I can't vote for 1114. 1 might be able to vote for it next year or the next year, but not this year I would like to say that I think the Revenue Committee has done yeomen's service, the debate has been good, it's already been good. We've already seen some results., I mean, I'm just thinking about my own public school system and their efforts to get together with other school systems and how... see how maybe services can be shared and maybe even talking about potential mergers at some time down the road. I think this whole discussion is necessary, don't get me wrong. I think it's necessary and I think it's good, and I think maybe we need to put a little scare into everybody, but this is far too Draconian for me. And I
appreciate the opportunity to get that on the record. Thank you.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Chambers.
SENATOR CHAMBERS: Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislature, this is one of the most serious discussions we've had all session, so I want to tell a couple of jokes. First of all, this legislation is supposed to be for property tax relief and I've said I don't think it's going to do what people are projecting that it will do, so you could say it's something like things not appearing as they really are, or being other than the way they appear. And the joke I thought of were these two teardrops. It involved two teardrops flowing down this river of time, and one teardrop said to the other one, whose tear are you? And that teardrop had to dry its own tear and say, I am the tear of a sad young girl who loved a young man deeply and lost him. And after recovering itself sufficiently, it said, and whose tear are you? And that tear said, I am the tear of the young lady who got him. I just thought I'd throw that out. Now this one's better though. This one's better. And this involves Bishop Sheen. I used to like to watch Bishop Sheen on television. It was many years ago. He had those arched eyebrows, the piercing eyes of a hawk and then he could smile mischievously. When he did it, it made him look like a pixie. If I did it the same way, they'd say I'd look like a demon. That gives you an idea of his expression. But he said one day he was on the... what are these cars that they have in big cities that take you from place to place but they don't have them in little cities? Everybody gets on them. Subway. Yeah, the subway. I was getting ready to say the escalator. He was on the subway and this old decrepit guy came and sat next to him. And Bishop Sheen, being a very forthright man, described him as a bum. And the bum looked at Bishop Sheen and saw him in all of his paraphernalia and he said, pardon me, Father , but what causes diabetes? And he reeked of alcohol, so Bishop Sheen said... he sensed an opportunity to make a point so it said, it comes from excessive drinking; and the man's eyebrows shot up in his hairline. And also mistreating your family; so the man's mouth dropped open and his chin hung on his chest. And Bishop Sheen felt like he was on a roll now. So then he told him, and generally disregarding the moral and religious precepts of society and the church. And so the guy got such a dejected look on his face that Bishop Sheen felt a little sorry for him and
thought he may have gone too far. So he said, tell me, my good man, why did you ask me that question? He said I read this morning that the Pope has diabetes. (Laughter)
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Robinson. don't seeSenator Robinson. Senator Schimek. Senator Bernard-Stevens. Senator Beutler.
SENATOR BEUTLER: Senator Withem, members of the Legislature, I've avoided getting up in this particular situation because no votes are going to be changed, and it seems like all we do is cause each other to feel bad, whether we're voting one way or the other at this particular point in time. And as Senator Bohlke has indicated, it's a hard vote either way you vote. I'm not going to vote for the bill. I'm not here to persuade you, though. I think I'm just here to share kind of an historical perspective with you for one second. But years ago I think it was either 1982 or 1983, this Legislature went through the same"' kind of trauma with property taxes and school reorganization. And instead of taking an indirect approach to things, we took a very direct approach to things, and we passed a bill that got 25 votes in this Legislature that did two things: consolidated the schools so that there'd be about 350 of them, and it put a penny... increased the sales tax by a penny and put it into school funds so we could shift away from property taxes. Two things. You know what you're going to do next year and the year after? You're going to do two things. You're going to increase the sales tax by at least a penny and you're probably. going, to force the consolidation, either directly or indirectly, down to around three to four hundred school districts. And I don't know what lesson there is in that particularly. It just seems very sad to me that in 1982, 13 years ago, we could be where we're getting to a year or two from now, and think of all the trauma, all of the consternation, all of the wasted money that's been spent in those ensuing years. And I guess in a sense I ... I feel good about this institution and what we did. I mean, we had leadership then, we took it on, we did it. it was then rejected by the public. The legislative leadership has come back and tried to do it a different way, and it's been slowly getting at. the problem as fast as we can, given the political forces 1 guess in choosing that particular route. I mean, when I came into the Legislature in 1978, there were 1,050 school districts, I think. And now it's down to, what, 668 or something right in that neighborhood. And property taxes, in fact as related to
income and sales taxes, have certainly come down in those ensuing years. But having said that, that's my little historical note for you. And having said that, I would just say one more thing and that is to, as has everybody else, praise and thank the Revenue Committee for all they've done and for putting this package together. I wanted very much to vote for it. The fact that schools were left so vulnerable, vulnerable beyond our political ability to remedy the situation, in my opinion, that little fact ... that big little fact keeps me from voting for this particular bill. But having said that, I say it with a recognition that my judgment may be wrong in the matter. Time will tell, a couple of short years will tell. Thank you.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Thank you, Senator Beutler. Senator Stuhr.
SENATOR STUHR: Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislature, it's really hard for me to add probably anything that hasn't already been said, but I guess in talking about the property tax issue, again I'd like to emphasize that I think the attitude that we go into this process is probably going to make the biggest difference if we are really serious about reducing property taxes. I think that all areas of government will need to look at ways to address the problem of efficiency, and we've talked about that. I believe, regardless of what Senator Bernard-Stevens says, I believe that quality education for our students is still of utmost importance to all members of the Legislature. I think that all of us realize the importance of education to the future of our state. And as a former teacher and someone that's worked in the education field, I guess I challenge the other teachers and administrators to really work cooperatively and to change their attitude and to look at some things that might possibly be able to do. Last week I handed out a handout to most of you on the floor in regards to property taxes. In my own district in the last ten years, they have increased one parcel of land 85 percent; another county, 170 percent; another county, about 89 percent. So we're talking about some reality as far as taxpayers are concerned. I did want to just talk a little bit about my own school district. These bills will not have as much effect as actually LB 1050. Last night our Board of Education met in my district and they will be looking at the possible closing of our school. So these have not been easy decisions. But again, I would just like to challenge all of us to work together. I hope, too, that we might be able to look at the school. finance aid measure and look
at some changes that might be able to be made. But I also want to commend the Revenue Committee for all of their hard work and the Legislature for actually leading the way. So I will be standing in support of LB 1114, even though it hasn't been an easy decision. Thank you.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Abboud. Senator Schrock..
SENATOR SCHROCK: Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, I'll be brief but I want to commend the Revenue Committee for all their hard work on these issues. But I want to make a couple of remarks. In a time when everybody is saying, let's get the heavy hand of government off the back ... off our backs, and we're all saying we have too much intrusion by the federal government, now we are making the same mistake, I believe, on the state level that's been made on the federal level. We are putting the heavy hand of state government on our local governmental subdivisions. I just bought some diesel fuel last week. The price has gone up almost 50 percent. I wonder how our schools and counties and cities are going to cope with a 50 percent increase in the price of fuel when they can only increase their budget by three percent, one percent and one percent. Somebody's roads is not going to get graded. I think we take away a lot of flexibility from our local governmental subdivisions, hot only to set their own budgets, but to decrease their budgets when the appropriate time arises, when they have the opportunity. And so I have been philosophically opposed to levy limits and spending caps, and even stated during my campaign that I would not support those issues. So that explains my no vote, and with those remarks, I'll stop.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Witek. Do I see five hands? I do. The question is, shall debate cease? All of those in favor vote aye, opposed vote nay. Record.
CLERK: 28 ayes, 0 nays to cease debate.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Debate is ceased. Senator Bernard-Stevens to close.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members of the body. I appreciate the discussion that has been on both sides. I, too, want to commend the Revenue Committee for its hard work. I'm not sure I'm going to applaud the Revenue Committee for
its ... for its conclusions, but they have done a :tremendous amount of work in a very, very difficult situation. The problem with any type of tax policy, which is what we're dealing with, we're trying to deal with an over-reliance on property taxes. And we have one perception out there, the public just simply wants to reduce the tax burden . And there's another group out there, and many of us are in this group, the one I'm going to mention, is that we want ... we need the services that we have and we need to shift the tax burden. And so we make an economic tax decision, which we're doing today, but it probably is the biggest educational change that this Legislature has done in a long, long time. And it's too easy to separate what's good tax policy versus what is going to really be a reality to people, and I think that's part of the frustration many people have on both sides. And Senator Bohlke was correct. It's a tough vote for all. I think it's particularly tough for ... well, that's not fair. It's a tough vote for all, voting yes or no on the issue, and I appreciate the body's allowing those of us that are speaking against the bill to at least have some time to do so. I do want to close on a couple of comments. And Senator Preister, I don't know, your light was the only one left on, if you want a minute or so of my time at the end, I'll give you that if you so desire. Yours is the only light left, if you... I will do so then. I'd like to close then with a couple of comments. None of us that are voting against the bill, to my knowledge, are going to work against the goals of the bill. I will try very hard to make them work. I will try very hard personally to make a tax shift policy so that it can work, and I hope that the vision that the Legislature has today is a sound one. I truly do. This is one of the times where I'm a ... I'm usually known as to be the big gambler, being a risk taker, but this is one area where I guess it struck too close to home, and I just was unable to take the risk. And I think Senator Schimek said it so well. The one that's the most difficult to me is this bill, not the lid one, but this one. And it's at this particular point that we didn't have to do this bill this year. We could have waited to see what was going to happen, but we are going to do it and it is going to be in stone. My fear is still that the Legislature does not fully appreciate what the public is saying, and that is I think they're saying that the next year their push... this would be the Lincoln Chamber, the Omaha's, State Chamber I assume, others will be out there saying, now we put the lids on the local levels, the next year it'll be time for the state. And that's going to be the push next year, I
believe. We're going to be fighting a big drive to limit our ability to collect or...and to reduce our spending. And maybe that's the way it should be. But if we do that, what many of you are voting for will not come to fruition today. Many of you are voting for this and you believe that you'll vote for a tax shift when the time comes. I'm not sure you'll be voting for a tax shift a year from now. I think you're going to be voting whether or not we're even going to stay at the spending at our current level. And I will say it is... it will not be lost on the public, that when we are crying for inefficiencies to go away, and Senator Fisher said it so well, we simply have to...
SPEAKER WITHEM: One minute.
SENATOR BERNARD-STEVENS: ..cut those things that don't need to be there, we at the same time did not have the discipline to do that ourselves. Senator Preister, I yield to you the rest of the time.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Preister.
SENATOR PREISTER: Honorable President, friends all, thank you, Senator Bernard-Stevens. What I wanted to say I won't be able to do in one minute, but I will ... I do thank you for this opportunity because this may be the only chance that any of us may ever have to have the last word after you've closed. (Laughter) With that, I end, and thank you.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Senator Bernard-Stevens has withdrawn the motion. Mr. Clerk, anything else?
CLERK: I have nothing further, Mr. President.
SPEAKER WITHEM: Read the bill, please.
CLERK: (Read LB 1114 on Final Reading.)
SENATOR COORDSEN PRESIDING
SENATOR COORDSEN: All provisions of law relative to procedure have been complied with. The question is, shall LB 1114 pass-Those in favor please vote aye; those opposed nay. Record, Mr. Clerk.
ASSISTANT CLERK: (Read record vote. See pages 2031-32 of the Legislative Journal.) Vote is 36 ayes, 12 nays, 1 present not voting, 1 excused and not voting.
SENATOR COORDSEN: LB 1114 passes. Next bill, LB 1177, Mr. Clerk.
ASSISTANT CLERK: Mr. President, the first motion I have on this bill is from Senator Wesely. He would move to return the bill to Select File for a specific amendment, to strike the enacting clause.
SENATOR COORDSEN: Senator Wesely, on your motion to return.
SENATOR WESELY: Thank you, Mr. President and members. I offer this motion because I thought a discussion about the bill would be in order at this time, and I know that there has been previously two chances to debate the bill. But I must say that I, for one, did not give it very careful attention and, after having a chance to review it, in light of the Final Reading .today, I thought it would be important to ask a few questions and make a few points and allow Senator Warner to discuss the bill further before we took final action on the measure. I will indicate at this time, and I will explain as I go through my comments, that I will not take this to a vote and ask you to actually return the bill and strike the enacting clause. But I will leave it up for a chance for a discussion and would expect... and appreciate Senator Warner's comments about my concerns. First off, the bill is a ... calls for a $5 million reduction in General Fund revenues. Now the bill takes effect two years from now, and deals with an equalization formula for cities, and that is the initial and primary purpose of the bill, but it has other features as well. Included in that equalization effort is a reduction in General Fund that would send $5 million now going to the state to the cities in the equalization formula that we have. And obviously a $5 million impact on revenues is something we should consider, and I didn't remember in the discussions about that earlier on the bill that point being made. But upon further reflection, I should also indicate that that $5 million in that issue is not new to me or to this Legislature. In fact, when Senator ... now Senator, former Governor Kerrey was in, office, I carried a bill and passed a bill to repeal the collection...or reduce the collection fee for cities' sales taxes and return that money