Monday, September 17, 2007

Heineman's "Property Tax Relief" Targets Ted Turner For Biggest Benefits

by Kyle Michaelis
The Omaha World-Herald finally publishes some of the criticism of the 2007 Nebraska Legislature's Heineman-approved package for property tax relief, 5 months after robbing voters of the debate they honestly deserved.
State tax officials notified counties Friday to trim their 2007 property tax bills by $83.22 for every $100,000 of real estate subject to taxation.

Instead of sending more money to local governments to spend, the Legislature and Gov. Dave Heineman decided this year to use $105 million in state funds to pay part of Nebraskans' 2007 property tax bills....

State Sen. Tom White of Omaha said the program spreads the dollars too thinly. He also said the plan pays out sales- and income-tax revenue to people who pay little or no sales and income taxes in Nebraska. "It's lousy economics," White said. "Far too much money is going out of state. Ted Turner, as the biggest private property owner in the state, is going to make out like a bandit."

The media mogul and CNN founder has about 425,000 acres - about 625 square miles - in multiple counties. He also is the nation's largest landowner, with some 2 million acres in seven states. White said the $105 million - had it been limited to Nebraska homeowners - could have resulted in $250 going toward their property tax bills.

During the legislative session, White called for a $500 income tax credit for homeowners - but his measure stalled when other lawmakers wanted to make sure farmers and commercial property owners got a share of any reduction.

State Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler said the Legislature settled on the fairest approach. "It seems fair to tax everybody in the state, yet some of the ideas to give money back would have excluded certain groups," he said.
I'm sure a billionaire like Ted Turner appreciates Langemeier and Heineman looking out for his interests rather than those of the working people who actually live, work, and raise their families in Nebraska.

The true measure of a tax cut or the politicians who support them is less a question of how much than who benefits. It should come as little surprise, then, that Nebraska's destructive legacy of one party Republican domination would work to Ted Turner's favor over the common Cornhusker fan's.  In 2007, Heineman promised "middle class tax relief." Now, we see what he meant - forsaking his obligation to the people of Nebraska to help Ted Turner recoup past alimony payments to Jane Fonda.  Heineman and Langemeier may find this "the fairest approach," but it amounts to a tax giveaway to Nebraska's wealthiest landowners with the least actual need for assistance. It is sad to think that's where so many of our politicians' priorities lie rather than with the homeowners who invest not just their money but their lives in Nebraska's future.

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