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It's all on the table now, even more.

The Legislature's Revenue Committee conducted a free-wheeling discussion of tax reform during an executive session Thursday evening and when it was done sales tax increase proposals were joined by consideration of income tax reductions and major changes in state aid for local schools.

But the overriding goal continued to be property tax relief, perhaps as great as $500 million at the beginning with some senators focused on eventually achieving a billion dollars at the end.

No votes were taken, no decisions were made and Revenue Chairwoman Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn said there will be more discussions among senators and in future committee sitdown sessions.

"There were a lot of good ideas," Linehan said following the committee's second evening executive session targeted at seeking agreement on a tax reform plan.

"We're not there yet," she said.

But Linehan remains focused on her goal of sending legislation to the floor of the Legislature by mid-April.

Informal discussion on Thursday night focused on the possibility of some spending controls along with major property tax reduction which could be accompanied by a lid on future local property tax increases.

Sens. Curt Friesen of Henderson, Tom Briese of Albion and Mike Groene of North Platte gave fellow committee members extensive briefings on the details of their individual tax reform bills, all of which are being held by the committee following lengthy public hearings earlier this session.

Linehan said she would like to see if the three senators might be able to "come to agreement" on a single plan.

The possibility of both corporate and individual income tax reductions was aired Thursday night along with an array of sales tax options, including a 1-cent increase in the 5.5 percent state sales tax rate that would raise an estimated $326 million a year.

Also on the table was a proposed half-cent sales tax rate hike along with a lengthy list of current sales tax exemptions that could be repealed. Among them were exemptions applied to candy, soft drinks and bottled water.

A cigarette tax hike also remained in consideration.

One list of sales tax exemptions that could be considered for repeal totaled more than $123 million in potential new state revenue that could be devoted to property tax relief.  

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSDon.


Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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