News Release: New Poll Surveys Revenue Committee Constituents
Contact: Adam Weinberg
Phone: (402) 452-3737
New Poll Surveys Revenue Committee Constituents
Property Taxpayers Favor More Tax Limitations, Ending Exemptions
OMAHA, NE – A new poll conducted in January on behalf of the Platte Institute finds that Nebraska taxpayers are open to a variety of policies that could help reduce local property taxes. A majority of voters favored additional limits on local property taxing authority, and a plurality support ending sales tax exemptions to reduce property taxes. Voters remain closely divided, however, on proposals to pay other, unspecified taxes to reduce property taxes, or cutting government spending to achieve property tax reductions.
The automated telephone poll included 2,977 active likely voters residing in the eight legislative districts represented by the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee. The vast majority of respondents self-reported as property taxpayers. The polling questions, results, and methodology are attached and are posted with further analysis at PlatteInstitute.org/Polls. Note, the figures are rounded and may not total to 100%.
The Revenue Committee, ordered by district number, includes Sen. Brett Lindstrom (LD-18, Northwest Omaha), Sen. John McCollister (LD-20, Central Omaha), Sen. Mark Kolterman (LD-24, Seward), Sen. Curt Friesen (LD-34, Henderson), Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (LD-39, Elkhorn), Sen. Tom Briese (LD-41, Albion), Sen. Mike Groene (LD-42, North Platte), and Sue Crawford (LD-45, Bellevue).
Each district’s poll has been tabulated separately. At times, the results varied along the same urban and rural lines familiar to observers of the Unicameral. But voters became more unified when the subject turned to the Legislature placing more limits on the ability of local governments to levy property taxes.
“These results show that the same debates happening in the Unicameral are also happening right now in communities across Nebraska, and many undecided taxpayers are looking for leaders to show them a vision for property tax reform,” said Jim Vokal, Chief Executive Officer of the Platte Institute.
“Now that all of the 2019 property tax legislation has been introduced, the Revenue Committee must communicate to voters how their solutions can get Nebraskans closer to what most of them say they want in this poll, which is a lower property tax bill without neglecting core government services,” said Vokal.
Here are highlights from the results:
- Respondents were closely divided when asked, without specifics, if they would be willing to pay other taxes as a way to reduce property taxes. Many voters also remain unsure. 36% of voters were opposed to paying other taxes, 33% supported a generic tax shift away from property tax, and 31% were unsure. Neither side achieved a majority in any district, as a significant share of voters remain undecided across the board. A larger number of voters in the Omaha metro area tended to oppose to a tax shift, while more voters in several of the Central and Northeast Nebraska districts polled narrowly favored paying other taxes to see reduced property taxes.
- Support for a tax shift increased when voters were asked if they were willing to pay sales tax on goods and services that are currently exempt, if the proceeds were used to reduce property taxes. 47% of voters favored ending sales tax exemptions to lower property taxes, 33% were opposed, and 21% were unsure. The proposal gained at least plurality support in every district, and a majority in the district represented by Revenue Committee Chair Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, where voters favored the proposal 56% to 25%, with 18% unsure.
- Voters were still reluctant to choose a specific sales tax exemption they’d be willing to live without. When presented with five categories of exempt goods and services, the largest number of voters in each district said they would prefer not to pay sales tax on any of the purchases, or that they were unsure. Among voters who selected an exemption to repeal, sales taxes on transportation services and gasoline were favored over sales taxes on groceries, personal care services, or professional services.
- The results suggest a hypothetical campaign to reduce property taxes with a voter-approved countywide sales tax would be competitive in many areas of the state. 41% of respondents favored a countywide sales tax if all proceeds were used to reduce property taxes, with 40% opposed. 19% were unsure. Support tended to be stronger in rural districts and weaker in urban districts. State law would have to change to allow counties to collect sales tax within the limits of municipalities that also have a sales tax.
- 43% of respondents opposed cutting government spending to reduce property taxes, if the cuts resulted in reduced local services. 40% favored cuts to reduce property taxes, while 18% were unsure. Voters in five of the legislative districts opposed making cuts to local government services to reduce property taxes, voters in two districts favored cutting spending, while support and opposition in one district was tied.
- While voters remain divided about a generic tax shift or cutting government spending, respondents showed much stronger support for new state laws that place additional limitations on local property taxes. 51% favored placing additional restrictions on annual spending increases by local property taxing subdivisions, 24% opposed more spending limits, and 25% were unsure.
- A majority of voters in every district supported a new state law placing further restrictions on how much property tax local political subdivisions could collect through property tax rates or valuations. 62% favored an additional property tax limitation, 17% were opposed, and 21% were unsure. This result bridged partisan divides. At least a plurality of Republicans, Democrats, and independents favored further limits on tax rates or valuations in seven of the eight districts polled. Support ranged from 70% in Sen. Groene’s District 24 in Lincoln County, to 56% in Sen. Crawford’s District 45 in Sarpy County. Opposition ranged from 22% in Sen. Friesen’s District 34 in Central Nebraska, to 14% in Sen. Briese’s neighboring District 41, which also includes parts of Northeast Nebraska.
To schedule an interview about this new poll, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 452-3737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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