Debate Transcripts

LB 595 (1997)

Final Reading

May 28, 1997


SENATOR COORDSEN:  LB 577A passes.  LB 595, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  Mr. President, Senator Robinson would move to return the bill for a specific amendment.  The amendment is on page 2327 of the Journal.  (See AM2371.)


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Senator Robinson, on your motion to return.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Mr. President, members of the body, I am going to briefly tell you what the amendment is, and then I'm going to make some comments about it.  In the amendment, it states, the adjusted valuation used in the calculation of state aid shall not exceed one hundred and eight percent of the assessed valuation for the property tax year on which the adjusted valuation is based.  The adjusted valuation is the evaluation used for state aid purposes, which is brought to all the school districts by the State Tax Commissioner, and we all know the assessed valuation is what each of your county assessors bring to you.  Now, remember that when we talk about state aid, it is by each district.  And I'd like to go on to some comments concerning my amendment.  I have spoken to many ...  to many of you about this amendment.  It is intended to correct an unforeseen outcome of the way we calculate state aid to school districts, which are headquartered in counties which adopt greenbelting.  Because of circumstances of school finance law in a county or counties implementing greenbelting, certain school districts have their state aid based on an artificially high valuation figure.  This amendment is designed to correct this problem by making a minor change in the law.  The impact is small on our total state aid but important to individual districts.  We calculate state aid based on adjusted valuation for the previous year.  An example, the Arlington Public Schools, in 1996, the adjusted valuation is 226 million.  That figure is 28 percent higher than Arlington's adjusted valuation in 1995.  Because the district's adjusted valuation increased significantly, it appears that the district's resources also increased significantly, so state aid will be reduced.  Arlington's valuation increased so much partly because of development in Washington County.  Development leads to increased valuation to reflect the market value of the property.  Often the property value which is most significantly affected by development is the agriculture property value.  That's because




ag land is to be valued 80 percent of market value, while nonag is to be valued at 100 percent of market.  In counties with suburban and urban growth, sales of ag land near the growth tend to be sales for development.  Hence, growth ...  hence, property values increase more significantly than the increased development in the region is not a factor.  This significant increase in adjusted valuation leads to a significant decrease in state aid, when all factors being equal.  Counties that presently that are greenbelted are Cass, Lancaster, Douglas, Sarpy, and Washington.  An example, the Arlington School District's rise in valuation caused the district to lose $235,000 in state aid.  This year, however, Washington County adopted a greenbelt program.  Next year when Arlington's state aid is calculated, a lower valuation will be used because greenbelting allows ag land zoned commercial, residential, or industrial to be valued as ag land, if it is still used for ag purposes.  Arlington's state aid calculation for 1998 will reflect this lower valuation.  The problem for Arlington is this particular school aid year, 1997's aid will be figured on 1996's valuation, always a year in arrears.  The adjusted valuation results in less state aid.  According to the Department of Education, School Finance Office, the overall state average increases of adjusted valuation over actual valuation is about 6 percent.  In 1996, in Arlington, however, the increase was 28 percent.  This amendment is intended to correct this unintended foreseen side effect of basing school aid on the prior year's valuation.  If the amendment is adopted, state aid will be calculated using an adjusted valuation which is no more than 8 percent of the actual valuation in districts headquartered in counties which adopt countywide greenbelting.  This year those counties, as I mentioned, are Cass ...  Cass, Lancaster, and Washington.  Sarpy and Douglas County were greenbelted before this.  The amendment also adds the E clause.  I'd be happy to answer any questions, and I urge your vote to adopt the amendment.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Thank you, Senator Robinson.  Senator Bohlke, to speak to the motion to return.


SENATOR BOHLKE:  Mr. President, and members, I rise in support of the amendment, and it's always nice to see someone else have to explain school finance on the floor, Senator Robinson, but




what this does, as he highlighted, is it corrects what creates a gap for schools in the year because of greenbelting, as far as the value of their land and how they look as far as resources and need, and it softens the blow of what would happen in that gap year by capping this to 8 percent.  And so with that, I support the amendment to the bill.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Senator Robinson, there are no other lights on.  Did you wish to say anything in closing.




SENATOR COORDSEN:  Closing is waived.  The question before the body is the motion to return to Select File LB 595.  All in favor of returning please vote aye, those opposed nay.  Record, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  40 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on the motion to return the bill.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  The bill is returned.  Senator Robinson, to open on your amendment.


SENATOR ROBINSON:  Just a brief comment, there are...  there are about nine schools that are affected by this in Cass County, Lancaster and Washington County.  I'd answer any questions that -the body may have.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Senator Robinson, there's no other lights on.  Did you wish to say anything else?  Thank you.  The issue before the body is the adoption of the Robinson amendment to LB 595.  Those in favor please vote aye, those opposed nay.  Record, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  41 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of the Select File amendment.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  The amendment is adopted.  Anything further on the bill?  Senator Robinson, would you make the motion to return ...  to advance to E & R.




SENATOR ROBINSON:  I move we advance LB 595 to E & R engrossing.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  You heard the motion to advance 595 to E & R for engrossing.  All in favor please say aye.  Opposed nay.  The bill is readvanced.  Mr. Clerk, LB 659.


CLERK:  (Read LB 659 on Final Reading.)


SENATOR COORDSEN:  All provisions of law relative to procedure having been complied with, the question is, shall the bill pass?  Record, Mr. Clerk.


CLERK:  (Record vote read.  See page 2392 of the Legislative Journal.) 42 ayes, 0 nays, 2 present and not voting, 5 excused and not voting, Mr. President.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  LB 659 passes.  LB 724, Mr. Clerk.  We will stand at ease for a very brief moment.  We have a motion on the A Bill on 724.  We can't read the A bill without 724, BO what we're going to do is pass over 724, and take up the motion to return on (LB) 724A.  I believe, Senator Wickersham, this is your motion to return?


SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Yes.  Thank you, Mr. President.  This is a very simple amendment.  It increases the amount of the A bill by $5,000.  These are not General Fund dollars.  They are Cash Fund dollars.  The dollars are directed to be used by the board that administers the retirement systems, the PERB, for board training .and education.  We have, for the most part, a very new board that is administering the systems.  They are trying very hard to get their arms around a number of administrative issues that pertain to the administration of the systems, but because they are new, they're inexperienced in the administration of the systems, they are having some difficulties.  I believe it is important to give them an opportunity to have board training to begin to understand what their responsibilities are, to begin to see how they are going to implement changes or cause changes to be made in the agency and the administration of the plans.  This simply gives them the dollars to conduct that effort, and I would appreciate your support for the amendment.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Thank you, Senator Wickersham.  There are no