Yesterday, the majority of the Nebraska Legislature voted to keep the conversation going toward a comprehensive tax reform solution that reduces our state's high property and income taxes.
Unfortunately, that isn't enough in the Unicameral.
33 votes were needed to overcome a filibuster of LB461 by senators working on behalf of high-tax lobby groups. Only 6 more votes would have made the difference, but 9 senators voted against keeping the discussion going, and even worse, 13 Nebraska State Senators didn't vote at all.
They sat on the sidelines and allowed LB461 to die on the floor by a vote of 27-9-13.
I've been an elected official, and this is a great example of how distorted people's thinking can become in office. These 13 senators actually believe they can turn around and convince you, the voter and taxpayer, that they didn't really oppose the most comprehensive tax relief bill in years, because they didn't technically vote "no."
Here's the final vote tally:
YES: Sens. Albrecht, Bostelman, Brasch, Brewer, Clements, Craighead, Ebke, Erdman, Friesen, Geist, Halloran, Hilgers, Hilkemann, Hughes, Kolterman, Kuehn, Larson, Lindstrom, Linehan, Lowe, Murante, Riepe, Scheer, Smith, Stinner, Watermeier, Williams
NO: Sens. Bolz, Chambers, Hansen, Howard, Krist, Morfeld, Quick, Schumacher, Walz
Present, Not Voting: Sens. Baker, Blood, Briese, Crawford, Groene, Harr, Kolowski, McCollister, McDonnell, Pansing Brooks, Vargas, Wayne, Wishart
If every member of the Nebraska Legislature who previously supported tax reform had voted for LB461, the filibuster would have been defeated soundly. The reality is that many politicians want your vote and promise big in campaign season, but once in office they get more accolades, and sometimes more cash for re-election, by rewarding special interests with your tax dollars.
Everyone should be mad about this betrayal, but not discouraged.
This is, after all, only the first time in years a bill like this has been debated. Committee leaders showed marked improvement in bringing LB461 to the whole Legislature. Many newer senators also gave strong defenses of the taxpayer and the need for reform in floor debate.
They will rarely get credit for it, but many of these new senators have a more enlightened philosophy and understanding of the hard work it takes for Nebraskans to pay the state's bills.
Having the other 22 Nebraska State Senators on record killing tax reform lays bare the myth of a deeply conservative Nebraska Legislature. It reveals the disproportionate influence groups that support higher taxes have in Lincoln.
Surely you've heard that knowledge is power. So many of the barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska arise from a Legislature that is run for the benefit of the most influential special interests, who want government to guarantee them an easier way to take your money.
The more that Nebraskans see that the Legislature truly functions to the detriment of taxpayers, the more effective action can be taken to right these wrongs.
Hardworking Nebraskans must continue to unite and regain control of the policy environment in their state, and that begins with accountability for those senators who let the state's taxpayers down when they had the chance to provide much-needed tax relief.