High-tax advocates are reeling after the 105th Legislature appointed conservative senators to nearly all committee leadership positions. As I wrote last year, these positions matter, and were worth fighting for.
Left-leaning senators of all political affiliations expressed their displeasure, saying the Legislature is now more partisan as a result.
But policy, not party, is what divides the chamber. After all, was the Legislature truly any less partisan four years ago when the majority of committees were led by Democrats, and the committees led by Republicans were generally led by Republicans who voted with Democrats?
Give the left wing of the Nebraska Legislature a lot of credit. They have intelligently organized for years, making an impact beyond their obvious numbers. This year, the conservatives wised up enough to get organized, too.
It was the voters who sent them the numbers to do it. When looking at how the turnover affected tax policy, one tax hike-supporting member of the Revenue Committee was fired in the November election, and others who had supported tax increases on the committee were term-limited.
The old Revenue Committee had killed a lot of tax relief bills over the years. Fortunately, the new Revenue Committee will be staffed by many of the senators who were supporting those bills.
Half of the Committee members were sponsors of the Strong Roots Nebraska tax reform plan in 2015. Others who were new senators finding their footing that year, like Sen. Mike Groene or Sen. Curt Friesen, have left little doubt at our Strong Roots Nebraska tax relief town halls that their goal is tax relief.
While Sen. Paul Schumacher sometimes confounds conservatives with his positions, in the past he has acknowledged the state’s income tax rates could be reduced through changing tax incentives. And even the committee’s sole Democrat, Sen. Burke Harr, has introduced income tax reform legislation supported by the Platte Institute in 2014.
The 105th Legislature provides a unique opportunity for Nebraska to do more than just talk about the problems of its tax system. Working together, these eight legislators can take meaningful action to remove the barriers Nebraska’s tax system imposes on our families and businesses.
Here is the full list of senators assigned to the Revenue Committee: