I feel something is wrong with our TEEOSA formula (state aid to schools).

We have been told in outstate Nebraska that state aid to our school districts is going down due to our rich land base, which is due largely to the run up in land values when grain prices were high.

Now our grain prices are at break even, and it is assumed land valuations will gradually start coming down. The projected valuation decrease is around 5% in Dawson County, so one would assume that our state aid would start going up.

I have been told by an out-of-town school board member that a top state senator told him valuations of land could go down 45%, but our state aid still might not increase.

Now I understand that is a lot of second hand information, but if that is true, our schools are facing the prospect of asking voters to override levy limits to fund them.

We pay sales tax, cigarette tax, fuel tax, state income tax, and the percentage of what we get back is a small, maybe unconstitutional.

A percentage of 22.5% of Nebraska’s revenue goes out in state aid.

Kearney gives a lot to the state in sales tax, income tax etc. Are they getting 22.5% back in state aid?

We are not being taxed fairly on all forms of property.

One hears about the three-legged stool supporting education — state income taxes, sales taxes and real estate taxes.

One leg is supporting the majority of education, and that is real estate taxes.

I feel we are experiencing a wealth transfer to towns with meat processing plants and large eastern cities.

In a town hall meeting with the governor, I pointed out these problems with TEEOSA, and his comment was, we in outstate need 33 votes to change things, and we have 18 senators.

He also realizes that the $100 million state shortfall in revenue is due to agriculture’s lack of income. Taxing farm real estate at high levels compounds the problem.

Several bills have been introduced to lower real estate valuations, and it is suggested that if they don’t pass, we push a voter referendum. We in outstate Nebraska will lose again, because we do not have the population to outvote eastern cities.

So what can we do? We can donate to any group that is planning to sue the state of Nebraska for not upholding the constitution, by not fairly taxing all forms of property. We don’t have the votes in the legislature.

We don’t have the votes for a referendum, but with some large donations, a lawyer, and a judge, we maybe can make things fairer.

Fair Nebraska is one such group. Visit them at www.fairnebraska.com.

On another note, Sen. Paul Schumacher introduced on Jan. 16 a legislative bill (LB) 1022, which will tax irrigation water at the rate of 1 cent per 10 gallons pumped. On an 800 gallon per minute irrigation well, that is $1,152 per day in taxes. His feeling is they need another source of income to replace income from property tax reductions.

I think the bill may have been introduced for shock factor to stop us from complaining about property taxes.

It shows an attitude that urban senators apparently have about taxing us.

It really upsets me that the idea of taxing the water below the land that we have bought is even considered. We will have to fight this idea from now on.

We need another bill that will state that irrigation water can never be taxed. It would be another way of taxing the goose the lays the golden eggs for this state.

In the table are numbers from the Nebraska Department of Education web site that I think shows the discrepancies in the TEEOSA (state aid) formula.

If there is an district that needs to yell about the TEEOSA formula, it should be York. Their median income is about the same as Grand Island Northwest. Their numbers of students are about the same, and their valuations are about the same.

York’s valuation is $1,154,423,774. Grand Island Northwest’s valuation is $1,017,065,122.

York’s levy per $100 is 1.1631, and Grand Island Northwest’s is 0.8951/$100.

Yet Northwest gets $4,894.50 per student, and York gets $133.47 per student.

Tell me the state aid formula is correct. Look at Kearney compared to Grand Island.

Several school districts in outstate Nebraska are getting early numbers on state aid for the 2018-19 year already, with big decreases.

At Gothenburg, for example, it looks like the state aid could decrease by $200,000.

 

(Richard Ristine of Cozad is a retired farmer and former school board member.)