Business, Ag Groups Divided Over Business Incentives Bill

Two of Nebraska’s largest farm groups are objecting to a bill that would create new business tax credits to replace the state’s current major incentive program.  The Lincoln and State Chambers of Commerce are pushing for its adoption.

L.B. 720, sponsored by Senator Mark Kolterman of Seward, would replace the incentives with a new set of enticements for businesses considering expansion or new locations in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau and Nebraska Farmers Union say they oppose the bill because lawmakers haven’t yet approved a plan to lower property taxes. The Farm Bureau argued Tuesday that lawmakers are running out of time in this year’s session and need to focus on property taxes.

Farmers Union President John Hansen says the state’s tax incentives aren’t cost effective and haven’t worked as intended. The incentives were also criticized by two former lawmakers who led the Legislature’s Performance Audit Committee.

The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce listed several reasons why it supports the bill:

  • State incentive programs balance the playing field as we compete with other states for new investments.
  • Incentives help us as a state win projects that could potentially leave Nebraska or not consider moving here at all.
  • The ImagiNE Nebraska Act simplifies the tax credit process for participating businesses and increases transparency for requirements
  • The ImagiNE Nebraska Act targets jobs that pay above a certain threshold, meaning good, high-paying jobs.

“With Nebraska’s current incentive program, the Nebraska Advantage Act, set to expire in 2020, it remains vital to the state’s current and future economy that an improved business incentives program must be in place to keep Nebraska competitive in an increasingly global economy,” said Bryan Slone, President of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce.

“We must keep our ‘open for business’ sign illuminated,” Senator Kolterman said, “and this bill sends that strong message to would-be employers.”

Kolterman says now is the time to grow Nebraska’s economy by attracting business and development to the state, noting its importance to the future of Nebraska. The proposed program gives economic development leaders in the state better tools to accommodate the diversity of businesses seeking to locate or expand to Nebraska.

“This bill builds on the success of past incentive programs and modernizes the system to meet the state’s evolving needs for the next ten years. Nebraska cannot afford to be without a program,” says Senator Kolterman.

LB 720 is scheduled for debate by the full Legislature this week.

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