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LIBA Announces 2014 Legislative Agenda

LIBA invites policymakers, citizens and Senators to consider the following items for the welfare of our community:

  1. Build the South Beltway.  LIBA would like to thank the Nebraska Department of Roads for including the Lincoln South Beltway in its 10 year priority list.  This project is made possible through the dedicated funding provided by the Build Nebraska Act.  We thank our State Senators for passing this bill.  The construction of a South Beltway for Lincoln is “crucial to Lincoln’s economic vitality and driver safety.”[i] During the past 11 years 18 people have been killed on Nebraska Highway 2 and according to NDOR this is the only Nebraska highway in the extreme category for future semi-truck traffic. LIBA will continue support the roads funding made possible by the Build Nebraska Act and asks Nebraska’s Senators to do the same.
  2. Limit Bonding Authority of Joint Public Agencies (JPA). JPA’s are a valuable tool to encourage governmental cooperation and efficiency.  JPA’s have been used to great success particularly in Lincoln and Lancaster County to build the Antelope Valley, a new correctional facility in Lincoln, and most recently the Pinnacle Bank Arena. However, JPA’s can exercise a freedom to bond that effectively allows these entities to offer general obligation bonds without a vote of the people. LIBA believes the authority of JPA’s to bond must be limited so they exercise no greater authority to bond than the JPA’s member entities.
  3. Lower the School Levy Lid. Nebraska’s school aid formula penalizes school districts that do not levy up to their levy lid. This forces school districts such as Lincoln Public Schools to levy at their maximum rate; even if the district were fiscally able to lower the levy rate it would not, due to the resulting cut in state aid.  In order to create greater equity among Nebraska’s school districts LIBA asks the Nebraska Legislature to lower the property tax levy lid for school districts and increase state aid to schools.  This is the best way to offer the property tax relief that Senators have been hearing about during the recent tax modernization discussions.
  4. Reduce/Eliminate Unfunded Mandates to Cities and Counties. State law dictates many functions of county government yet the state does not pay for the counties to carry them out.  Notably this is done through a statutory mechanism whereby the state promises to pay county expenses but only so long as the legislature appropriates funds. In tight budget cycles funds are not appropriated and the county is forced to pick up the tab. The result is Nebraska’s heavy reliance on property taxes.  State policy discouraging use of such a statutory mechanism and requiring state programs be funded by state revenues will both increase transparency and help to relive the burden of property taxes.
  5. Eliminate requirement that Lincoln Public School’s Associate Superintendent of Business Affairs must hold a superintendent certificate.  Only in the Lincoln school system is the associate superintendent of business affairs required to hold a superintendent certificate. Removing this restriction will allow a broad field of candidates for the position including those with practical business experience able to use this experience to the benefit of the public school system.
  6. Require that all school districts report at least three graduation rates. Many school districts work diligently to graduate students, even students who were unable to graduate in the traditional four years.  The efforts of these schools should be recognized and encouraged.  Inviting schools to report four, five, and six year graduation rates will paint a more accurate picture of Nebraska’s graduation rates and recognize the extra effort and dedication of Nebraska’s school districts.

[i] “South Beltway future in Question;” Deena Winter; Lincoln Journal Star; 26 June 2009