Tag Archives: Nebraska Farm Bureau

Nebraskans are ready to reap the benefits of the United States – Mexico – Canada – Agreement (USMCA) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi should act immediately to secure Congressional passage of USMCA to help them do so. That’s the message delivered by Nebraska elected officials and agriculture leaders during an Oct. 26 news conference to highlight the importance of USMCA, amidst Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Omaha for a political event.

The USMCA would replace the more than 25-year-old, North American Free Trade Agreement between the countries, modernizing the U.S. trading relationship with two of the U.S. largest trading partners, providing major benefits to U.S. businesses and consumers.

In preparation for the Pelosi visit, nearly 4,000 Nebraskans signed onto a letter to the Speaker encouraging Pelosi to act swiftly to pass USMCA legislation in the House.

While the Trump Administration negotiated and signed the USMCA deal more than a year ago, the agreement can’t be implemented until ratified by Congress. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the agreement once acted upon in the House. Action in the House is entirely dependent Pelosi scheduling a USMCA vote.

Given that Mexican officials ratified the USMCA in June and Canadian officials are waiting to see if the U.S. will follow suit, it’s critical the House take swift action to advance the USMCA deal.

Quotes:

Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president
“Mexico and Canada are two of Nebraska’s largest and most valuable trading partners. Those two countries collectively purchase more than 21 percent of Nebraska’s total agriculture exports. It’s time for Speaker Pelosi to bring USMCA to floor of the House for a vote so we can continue to move forward in bringing long-term stability to these markets for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.”

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse
“Talk about shameless: Speaker Pelosi is raising money for socialists while she’s picking our pockets. Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers need trade and Speaker Pelosi, the nation’s most powerful Democrat, is stonewalling the USMCA deal. Knock it off, Nancy — schedule the vote.”

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer
“Mexico and Canada are our two biggest trading partners. USMCA is a good deal for Nebraska agriculture and it’s also important for the manufacturing sector. Speaker Pelosi needs to stop her delay tactics so we can pass this critical agreement.”

Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02)
“USMCA is critical to our agricultural industry, expanded trade, and every community across Nebraska’s 93 counties. The trade agreement was signed in November of 2018 and has been awaiting Nancy Pelosi’s action for months. All former Secretaries of Agriculture since President Reagan have urged its ratification and 250 bi-partisan members of the House have indicated their support for it. Pelosi’s hate for President Trump and her unwillingness to do anything that could look favorable for him is hurting our trade, agriculture and economic growth.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01)
“Get er done.”

Congressman Adrian Smith (NE-03)
“The cost of delay is too great. It’s time to pass USMCA and begin unlocking the benefits of a modernized agreement. USMCA is a win for U.S. farmers, producers, and consumers. Speaker Pelosi should schedule a vote without any further delay or political games.”

Gov. Pete Ricketts
“President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is critical for Nebraska as we work to grow opportunities for farm and ranch families in a time of low commodity prices. Sadly, Nancy Pelosi and Washington Democrats in Congress have dragged their feet on approving the trade deal. The longer they delay, the more Nebraska’s ag producers are going to miss out on opportunities. It’s time to put politics aside and to seal the deal!”

LINCOLN, NEB. – “Property tax relief remains the highest of priorities for Nebraskans. Today’s announcement that state tax receipts for September outpaced revenue projections is good news. With total net tax receipts for the current fiscal year exceeding projections there is a great opportunity for the Legislature to put those excess revenues to work in lowering Nebraskan’s property tax bills. We look forward to working with Gov. Ricketts and our state’s elected officials to ensure those dollars are used for property tax relief.”

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers who pledged to lower property taxes are getting ready to try again with a proposal that would boost state aid for K-12 public schools while restricting the districts’ taxing power.

The tentative proposal, which has generated strong opposition from educators, would closely resemble one that lawmakers considered earlier this year. Its sponsors said they’re still working to address school officials’ biggest concerns.

“There’s a lot that could trip us up, but I think we’re headed in the right direction,” said Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, chairwoman of the Legislature’s Revenue Committee.

Linehan said committee members have met almost weekly since June and consulted with Gov. Pete Ricketts. She said she hopes to have a new bill ready for legislative debate by Dec. 15, several weeks before the 2020 session begins.

Nebraska public schools consume the largest share of local property taxes that have risen sharply over the last decade, drawing complaints from farmers, ranchers and some homeowners throughout the state.

The proposal would guarantee funding for all public schools, including rural districts that currently don’t qualify for state equalization aid because they have so few students and are surrounded by valuable farmland that isn’t taxed at the highest possible rate. Agricultural groups say it’s unfair for farmers to shoulder the burden because farm incomes are down and many operations are struggling.

School officials said they’re most concerned that state officials won’t keep their promise to provide a long-term funding boost for schools in exchange for restricting their taxing authority.

Some larger districts say the increases they would get under the proposal would still be a net loss in revenue per student because their enrollments are growing so fast. Those schools also tend to be more diverse, with many low-income, special needs and non-English-speaking students.

“We’ve got to make sure those kids have the same opportunity as any other student in the state,” said Kyle Fairbairn, executive director of the Greater Nebraska Schools Association, a coalition of 24 of the state’s largest districts.

Fairbairn said it’s unclear how lawmakers will find the money to pay for additional school aid. Earlier this year, lawmakers talked about eliminating sales tax exemptions and increasing Nebraska’s sales tax to raise money, but the idea faced strong opposition from the governor.

Linehan said she understands school officials’ concerns about whether the state aid will be sustainable, and legislators are working to address them. But she said it would be “really a bad idea” to do nothing about property taxes this coming year because farmers and homeowners are feeling the pinch.

Supporters say the measure would ease the burden on homeowners and farmers while fulfilling the state’s constitutional obligation to pay for K-12 public education.

“It’s good policy, and in the long term, it’s the way we should be doing things,” said Sen. Mike Groene, a key architect of the plan.

Groene said Nebraska relies far too heavily on property taxes to pay for schools, and providing more state money is “the most equitable and fair way to fix the problem.”