Evaluation of tax incentive programs advanced

The Executive Board heard testimony March 4 on a proposal to provide ongoing evaluation of the state’s tax incentive programs.

LR444, introduced by the Legislative Performance Audit Committee, would create the Tax Incentive Evaluation Committee. The committee would develop a proposal for evaluation the state’s tax incentive programs and would report to the Legislature by Dec. 15, 2014.

Syracuse Sen. Dan Watermeier, vice chairperson of the Legislative Performance Audit Committee, said the new study would build on work started in 2013 to improve evaluation of tax incentive programs. Those reports indicate that program goals currently are too general to permit meaningful evaluation, he said.

The new committee would comprise the seven members of the Legislative Performance Audit Committee, the chairperson and vice chairperson of the Appropriations and Revenue committees and one other senator chosen by the Executive Board.

The committee would be tasked with developing recommendations regarding specific and measurable goals for each tax incentive program and a process of regular evaluation.

Richard Baier of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce spoke in a neutral capacity, saying many states currently are examining their tax incentive programs. Nebraska has required an annual report on its programs since 1985, he said, but more effective evaluation may be possible.

“We want to work with you in finding ways to properly evaluate [these] programs,” Baier said.

The committee voted 8-0 to advance the resolution to general file.

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