Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to johnc@cfra.org.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Center Opposes Misguided Constitutional Amendment

Center for Rural Affairs Opposes Misleading, Misguided “SOS” Spending Lid Petition

Lyons, Nebraska – Today the Center for Rural Affairs announced that they will join the Nebraskans for the Good Life Coalition in opposing the “SOS” spending lid petition. The petition seeks to amend the Nebraska constitution to limit appropriations by the Nebraska Legislature. The Center also released an analysis of the most onerous provisions of the proposed amendment.

“Had this proposed change to the constitution been in place over the last 10 years it could have shifted nearly a billion dollars, $831 million, onto the backs of family farmers, ranchers and rural taxpayers as well as their urban neighbors in the form of increased property taxes,” said Jon Bailey, Rural Research and Analysis Program Director at the Center for Rural Affairs.

“Increasing property taxes in this way would be a significant drain on the economy of the communities that are facing the sternest economic challenges in Nebraska. And replacing that $831 million in state aid to local governments would have meant mounting property taxes, slashed local services and struggling schools. Quite simply, this would be very bad public policy,” added Bailey.

According to the Center’s analysis, any decreases in aid to local governments would mean local officials would be faced with the difficult choice of slashing local services or raising taxes on homes and agricultural land. The ability of many local units of government to absorb decreases in state aid without significant cut-backs in services is also questionable given that state mandated spending limits and property tax levy limits already exist on most units of local government.

The Center is urging Nebraskans to refuse to sign the petition, which they say is misleading and will ultimately lead to rapidly rising property taxes, closed schools, diminished public services and economic decline in many communities, particularly Nebraska’s rural communities.

“This petition was filed by well healed out of state interests paying circulators $2.50 for every signature. The petition process should be for grassroots initiatives, not for out of state interests to buy their way on to the ballot. Don’t fall for it. If approached tell them no and ask the circulator to stop pushing a proposal that will undermine our future and raise property taxes. Please ask your friends and neighbors to do the same,” urged Bailey.

To read the Center’s analysis in its entirety go to http://www.cfra.org/pdf/SOS_Petition.pdf . Also, anyone wishing to remove their name from the petition can find instructions and documents necessary to do so at http://www.cfra.org/pdf/SOS_petition_affidavit.pdf .

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

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