All of the signs are indicating that the U.S. economy is entering into a long-term recession. Last Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised the key interest rate by three-quarters of a point and raised the short-term interest rate from 3% to 3.25%, the highest level since 2008.

Add to this the Biden Administration’s plan for student loan forgiveness plus, $13.7 billion in assistance to Ukraine, $22.4 billion to fight COVID-19, $4.5 billion for a Monkeypox vaccine, and $6.5 billion for disaster relief, and you have a recipe for a long-term recession. 

All of this bad news means that it has now become much more difficult for Americans to get mortgages, car loans, and small business loans. In the days ahead, it will be more difficult to make ends meet. So, how will all of this affect Nebraskans?

While a long-term economic recession is never good for our state, Nebraskans are slightly better positioned to weather the economic storm than those in other states, and today I would like to tell you why that is the case. 

Nebraska still has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 2.4%. Nebraska’s low unemployment rate will help Nebraskans weather the economic storm. During times of recession, employers often have to lay off some of their employees. When employees get laid off, they spend less money, which only worsens the economy. Because of our low unemployment rate, people from other states may look at moving to Nebraska in order to find work.

Nebraska still has some of the most affordable housing in the country. In August, the national median home price jumped 7.7% to $389,500 per home. In Nebraska the median home price jumped 8.4% but remains well below the national average at $273,600 per home. Because we have the seventh lowest median home price in the nation, Nebraska remains one of the most affordable places to live in the United States.

Nebraska still has mortgage rates that are below the national average. Last week, the average rate on a 15-year fixed rate mortgage jumped from 5.21% to 5.44%. At this time, last year the average rate was only 2.15%! However, according to Nerdwallet, Nebraskans with good credit can get a 15-year fixed rate mortgage for 5.43%, which is just below the national average.

While all of this may sound like really good news, the fact of the matter is that Nebraska continues to shoot itself in the foot. Let me explain. Nebraskans continue to suffer under an unbearable tax burden.

 By now, most residents have received a pink post card in the mail indicating that their property taxes will go up again. None of the good news I have shared above matters when a property owner cannot pay his or her property tax bill and the state steps in to seize the property. 

Nebraskans desperately need property tax relief, but that is not all that has gone wrong.

LB 644 is the bill that generated those pink postcards. The purpose behind LB 644 was to create better transparency in government. Now government entities have to notify you before they raise your property taxes. However, that bill was also poorly written such that counties now have to send a separate pink postcard for every parcel of land in the county. I know one property owner who received 105 pink postcards in the mail! Instead of mailing multiple postcards to one person, I believe this could be done on one postcard.

Nevertheless, because the law now requires a separate postcard to be mailed for each parcel of land, county budgets will necessarily go up in order to cover the cost, and so will your property taxes.

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