LINCOLN—District 36 Senator Matt Williams says Nebraska’s 106th legislative session is “off to a good start.” The Nebraska Legislature began its first 90-day session on Wednesday, January 9 in Lincoln.
Senator Williams told KCNI/KBBN that leadership elections were conducted and he will be serving as chairman of the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee. Senator Jim Scheer was re-elected as speaker.
Many past issues will re-surface during this session including tax reform and workforce. Senator Williams said the legislature has been caught in a continuous budget shortfall cycle in terms of revenue and that it will be a “difficult budget to put together.”
Property taxes and education funding continue to be prominent points of contention but with the recent change of Nebraska colleting online sales tax, Senator Williams says this is an improvement as a new revenue source.
“We are now as a state starting the collection of sales tax on online sales which certainly is an improvement and will be a new source of revenue for our state. It’s estimated that that could be in the range of $40 to $50 million a year. There are certainly different ideas of how that should be used but certainly property tax is at the top of that list as far as potentially finding a way to use a portion if not all of those funds to reduce property taxes,” Senator Williams said.
He continued by saying many Nebraskans want and need property tax reductions, but a revenue source is necessary to offset those reductions.
A lack of workforce also continues to be an issue for Nebraska employers, especially in rural areas according to the District 36 representative. Senator Williams said despite recent bills LB518 and LB496 which addressed affordable workforce housing, there continues to be a shortage of qualified people to do existing jobs. He said incentive programs such as Nebraska Advantage need updating.
“The best way to get tax reform in our state is to grow our state,” Senator Williams said.
The first 10 days of the session include bill introductions. Committee hearings for proposed legislation will commence later this month. Senator Williams said he looks forward to turning upcoming challenges into new opportunities.