Gov. Jim Pillen is coming short on his plan to cut property taxes, but he may be winning another money fight.

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Gov. Jim Pillen’s more than ambitious push to cut property taxes 40 percent includes a key factor, and it hits the thought of local control right between the eyes.

According to the administration, last year while increasing state aid to schools by $324 million, the state imposed a so-called “soft cap” on school districts, school budgets only able to increase by more than 3 percent if the board approved.

Well guess what, 188 of the state’s 244 districts broke the lid and spent more, many insisting, that among other things, inflation forced their hand.

Pillen wasn’t happy and is now upping the ante.

JANUARY 18 (State of the State Address)

Gov. Jim Pillen, Nebraska (R): “Senator Linehan has introduced a hard cap on local spending, which can be overridden only by a vote of the people. This measure is critical, as only a hard cap will force local government to finally curb spending.”

One of those spend more school boards was in Henderson, just east of Grand Island.

Jen Hiebner, Heartland Community Schools/Henderson: “We did vote to increase within our school board limit, so we got to go up to the 7 percent and we did use our full amount. We needed that to keep our school running because we previously had such low levies, we were very conservative with our levy ask anyway, so we were in a position where we were not overspending in the first place.”

MARCH 6, 2024

State Sen. Jana Hughes, Seward (R): “You’ve got to balance this also with your local control, you’ve got your local school board elected, how much are we not trusting them.”

But according to Pillen, that hard cap is a must.

Gov. Pillen: “Fixed income Nebraskans who have lived, worked, and raised families here now face the prospect of being forced out of their homes due to out-of-control property taxes. That is unacceptable.”

Sen. Hughes: “What I’m hearing, at least rumblings, and I’m new and what do I know, the appetite for a hard cap across the board probably isn’t there and probably doesn’t have the votes.”

But in the final days of the session, Pillen says there is quote “a good opportunity” to get the caps across the finish line.