With all the talk about Gov. Jim Pillen’s big push to cut property taxes by 40 percent this year, you may have missed talk of another different tax cutting plan, one Pillen opposes.

It’s called the EPIC plan and according to a News Channel Nebraska investigation, the petition drive aimed at putting the issue on the November ballot, is raising major financial questions.

[View our full video report above]

Questions are mounting for a statewide petition drive aimed at upending Nebraska's tax system.

It's known as EPIC and would eliminate property, income, and corporate taxes.

Those taxes would be replaced with a 7-and-a-half percent consumption tax, taxing almost all goods and services except for food.

But backers of that EPIC petition drive, the kind of effort that usually enjoys publicity, well for now they’ve gone silent.

State Sen. Steve Erdman "respectfully declining" to tell NCN how many signatures they have and if he's confident the petition drive will be successful.

Quite different from my interview with Erdman late last year. 


Joe Jordan, NCN: “Voter ID, which was overwhelmingly approved by the voters, 65-35, in order to get it on the ballot the voter ID folks had to spend nearly $2 million. I think it was $1.8 million, to get enough people to sign the petitions. Is your group prepared to come up with that kind of money?”

State Sen. Steve Erdman, Bayard (R): “Yeah, we're working on that. We've hired a group from Florida, it's called Trailblazing and they're in the Omaha, Lincoln, metropolitan areas circulating in the area, collecting petitions today. So, we understand that it's going to take paid circulators.”

Jordan: “And how much do you think you're going to have to raise to pay those paid circulators?”

Sen. Erdman: “Well, I would think it's going to be over $1 million. You know we have had, we have already collected a significant number of signatures.”

Jordan: “Where's the money going to come from? Who do you think is going to pony up to help you pay that $1 million?”

Sen. Erdman: “We are getting donations from what we're doing in the town hall meetings. We’re asking people to make a donation equal to one month mortgage payment or if you want 10% of what your property tax is going to be. And so that's one of the things we're doing and it's working. People are sending in money. We got a donation the other day for $1,435 and ten cents. That was exactly their mortgage payment. So, people are doing that but we're working on getting, soliciting funds, from other groups as well.”

But according to state campaign finance reports, at the end of February the EPIC folks had raised $150, 209, spent $95,689 and had $55,108 cash on hand; Trailblazing Canvassers, the petition circulators, were paid $36,475 last year and nothing so far this year.


Sen. Erdman: “And when we hired this firm, they asked us to show them what we've done for volunteers, and they said they had never seen a volunteer organization as well organized and put together as ours.”

Sen. Erdman: “We have a commitment from at least 32 different counties, we have people positioned in 32 of the smallest counties to get us the 5% needed to qualify for the 38 counties that have 5%. So, we're well on our way accomplishing that. Because there's no way you can send somebody, or pay them, to Arthur, NE to get 56 signatures. The volunteers will do the smaller counties and then our paid circulators will work on the areas where the population is.”

The EPIC group needs roughly 123,000 valid signatures by early July in order to make the November ballot.