Special committee may study Nebraska incentive programs

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska lawmakers may set up a special legislative committee to study and develop recommendations on the state’s business incentive programs.

INCENTIVES: A special legislative committee may look into whether Nebraska’s business incentives are really working or should be revised.

The Legislature’s Performance Audit Committee passed a resolution, LR444, to set up a Tax Incentive Evaluation Committee, citing previous reports that the state’s incentive program goals are too vague and after doling out millions in incentives, it’s not clear whether the jobs would have been created without incentives.

“The initiation and development of an in-depth and ongoing system of review of Nebraska’s tax incentive programs is needed to determine the value of those programs to the state,” the resolution said.

If the resolution is approved by the full Legislature, the special committee would be charged with developing recommendations for “specific and measurable goals” and a process for regularly evaluating the state’s tax incentive programs.

The special committee would be comprised of the Legislative Performance Audit Committee; the chair and vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee; the chair and vice-chair of the Revenue Committee and one other lawmaker selected by the Executive Board of the Legislative Council. The chair of the Legislative Performance Audit Committee would chair the committee.

The committee could hold public hearings and issue a report to the Executive Board of the Legislative Council by Dec. 15 — which could include recommendations to update or restructure Nebraska’s tax incentive programs and areas for further study.

Renee Fry, executive director of the OpenSky Policy Institute, which has been advocating for more transparency and scrutiny of the state’s incentives programs, said OpenSky appreciates lawmakers “taking steps to ensure that the taxpayer dollars used to support business incentives are being used to benefit the entire community.”

“Forming the Tax Incentive Evaluation committee will help us better identify the types of incentives and industries that provide the biggest return on investment,” she said in a press statement. “Many states are looking closer at their business incentives and we are glad to see the Legislature go in this direction as well.”

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org. Follow Deena on Twitter at @DeenaNEWatchdog

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