Now that the Nebraska Legislature’s new session has opened, state Sen. Bill Kintner said he is excited and eager to get to work.
Kintner has two large priorities to advocate for this session: a three-year plan to phase out taxes placed on retirement income and ultimately eliminating and replacing the Learning Community of Sarpy and Douglas counties.
Kintner said that the first bill he presents may well likely be a plan to phase out the retirement tax.
“We’re the only state around that taxes 100 percent of retirement income,” Kintner said.
He said that of our area, Nebraska and all adjacent states, other states tax either a reduced amount of retirement income or none at all.
“We’re competing for people,” Kintner said.
He said our country is a place where it is easy to pick up and move to a different state, and many retired individuals will move to states where their restricted income will not be taxed.
Completely phasing out this tax, he said, would make Nebraska a more competitive state to attract these individuals.
Kintner said he is currently working on studying the effects this plan would have on the state’s budget, which is among the chamber’s chief priorities this session. As a member of the Appropriation Committee, which sets the budget, he said it is important for him to analyze and plan.
The static analysis would show the loss of the tax revenue from the proposal, he said. But a dynamic analysis would show the total cost of losing the tax money versus the potential revenue brought in from retired individuals staying or moving into the state.
“We may find it’s worth it to cut the tax with the other taxes they pay,” he said.
Kintner said he is working on finding the results of a dynamic analysis and he does not have any concrete data at the moment.
Kintner’s second area of focus is exploring options to replace what he calls the “failed experiment” of the Learning Community.
“We’re four years into this, it’s been an awful lot of money — a lot of money taken from Sarpy County,” he said. “And the test scores haven’t improved as far as I can tell.”
At this time, he said he is open to discuss with the education committee other options to best give every student in Nebraska an excellent education.
“I just don’t believe the Learning Community is the vehicle to do that,” he said.
Kintner said his ultimate goal is eliminate the collective tax burden of the state and make Nebraska a more business friendly state.