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Nebraska Bills Shore Up State's Property-Tax Base

Gov. Kay A. Orr of Nebraska last week signed into law three measures aimed at keeping the state's property-tax base from being eroded by a recent court ruling.

The changes addressed tax loopholes that were opened last summer when the state supreme court ruled that pipeline companies should be exempt from paying personal-property taxes because similar tax breaks are given to railroads. (See Education Week, Nov. 15, 1989.)

State officials expressed concern that business and motor-vehicle4owners would also claim exemptions, resulting in an annual loss of some $220 million in property-tax revenue, much of which is earmarked for education.

In a special session, the state's unicameral legislature Nov. 17 approved three measures designed to distinguish railroads from other types of property and to keep pipelines and similar entities on the tax rolls.

The Kentucky legislature probably will hold a special session on education after its regular 1990 session, Gov. Wallace G. Wilkinson and Speaker of the House Donald J. Blandford have indicated.

The legislature is under a court order to revise the state's entire education system.

The state supreme court decision originally said the task had to be completed by the end of the regular session. But the court later granted an extension to mid-July.

Many in the legislature favor dealing with the reform effort after primary elections are held in May.

Despite strong opposition from Ohio voters in the Nov. 7 elections, local school income-tax proposals could be more successful in the future, Superintendent of Public Instruction Franklin B. Walter has suggested.

Under a new law passed by the legislature, school districts in the state can seek to impose taxes for education on residents' income.

But, of the 82 districts that proposed such levies, only 17, or 21 percent, were successful this month.

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