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Sen. Jim Smith

State Sen. Jim Smith, who sponsored the governor's tax bill, listens to debate Tuesday on the floor of the Legislature.

"It's not over," Sen. Jim Smith said Thursday.

Smith has been quietly conferring with individual senators, agreeing to changes in the tax reform package championed by Gov. Pete Ricketts and is ready now to try to breathe new life into the bill in the fading days of the 2018 legislative session.

Eight more votes are needed beyond the 25 senators who already have shown some support for the bill (LB947) and Smith has been reaching out to try to satisfy concerns about securing school funding and meeting the expectations of senators who want increased workforce development funding added to the package.

"We are having conversations about some of those things," the Papillion senator said during an interview as the Legislature inched toward its final five days in session.  

Tuesday's test vote measuring support for the package came in the form of a 25-9 rejection of a motion to shelve the bill.  

The proposal would provide a refundable state income tax credit for ag land and homeowner property taxes that would gradually grow to 20 percent a year.

The measure also would reduce the corporate income tax rate over a five-year period and provide $5 million a year in workforce development funding. 

Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk won't return the bill to the legislative agenda unless Smith can assure him he has the 33 votes required to break a filibuster and the Speaker has marked Friday as the final day to move bills across the first stage of floor consideration, where LB947 currently is stuck. 

"I'm optimistic we can get there," Smith said. "We're not down for the count."

Smith, chairman of the Legislature's Revenue Committee, has been attempting to craft and adjust the tax package since January in pursuit of what he always has described as a narrow path to success.

"I'm having conversations with senators," he said. "I'm taking their input very seriously. I am in the process of working to understand the fiscal impact of any changes."

But, Smith emphasized, tax increases cannot be part of the solution.

"I am looking for a broader coalition," he said, "and I am very optimistic."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Political reporter

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

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