By Clint Andersen
State Senator-elect Al Davis wasted no time in getting to work for the residents of the 43rd legislative district. He held a conference call with media members on Wednesday, November 7, in which he outlined some of his priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
Davis’s priorities include finding a solution to the property tax burden in rural Nebraska. According to Davis, it is a “chronic problem that anyone in the farming and ranching industry will tell you is crippling to them.” One of his possible solutions is a modification of state aid to schools. According to senator-elect Davis, the 43rd legislative district has lost $10 million in state aid to schools over the last five years, and that revenue has to be made up by the property tax burden.
Another priority is to encourage and grow small businesses in the district and provide more jobs. He is also looking at other tax relief options, especially for senior citizens on fixed incomes.
Senator-elect Davis then opened the floor to questions that ranged over a variety of topics. When asked what impact Obamacare would have on the district, Davis indicated that setting up the required health care exchange for the state would probably be the “number one topic” in Lincoln.
The topics that were foremost on the minds of the voters leading up to the election were property taxes, completion of the Heartland Expressway, railroad issues relating to new EPA regulations on coal, and education. He was not surprised that voters passed Amendment 2 which guarantees Nebraskans’ right to hunt and fish.
Davis would like to see the inheritance tax go away, but noted that another revenue source would need to be found to replace that revenue stream before that could happen. He also noted that he would prefer to see fewer sales tax exemptions and that we would be better served by removing exemptions and lowering the overall rate, but doesn’t think that will happen, indicating that we need to be very cautious in exempting items from the sales tax.
When asked to comment on the re-election of Ernie Chambers to the legislature, Davis says he looks forward to working with Senator Chambers and learning from him as well.
Asked about LB1098, a bill that would repeal LB84 that funds the roads system, Davis indicated that he is not in favor of LB 1098 and said again that a new source of revenue would need to be found before eliminating the funding source.