Nebraska becomes 49th ‘school choice’ state

Governor Pillen signed LB753 into law, early Tuesday afternoon, the hope is to will provide for tax credits to people who donate to a private school.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 6:59 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Governor Pillen signed LB753 into law Tuesday afternoon. The new law will provide for tax credits to people who donate to a “scholarship granting organization” that distributes scholarships to parochial and private schools.

The new law will initially set aside $25 million a year in tax credits from the general fund, and the amount of money could eventually rise to $100 million a year within the next few years, depending on the demand for tax credit.

Proponents of the bill, like Heartland Lutheran’s Principal Chelsey Liess, said this could provide some much needed funding.

“I think it might encourage people to give more towards our scholarship fund, because each year whatever we receive in donations from people we can only give as much as we receive from people,” Liess said.

Opponents of the bill are not so sure it will bring the desired outcome. Support Our Schools Nebraska is mounting an effort to get roughly 60,000 signatures on a petition that would put LB753 on the November ballot.

They say since more than half of Nebraska counties don’t have a private school the priority should be on the local public schools, and the organization noted nine out of 10 kids in Nebraska are in public education.

Tim Royers with Support Our Schools Nebraska worries this could have a detrimental impact on education.

“Other states have been doing this for years now we’ve got pretty clear evidence in states like Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio, where not only did it not help academic performance actually went down after these initiatives were passed,” Royers said.

Nebraska Christian Superintendent, Tim Hekrdle, advises people to do their research about the bill and how it works.

“We’re really excited that the state of Nebraska has provided this opportunity for the scholarship act to go through,” Hekrdle said. “I encourage everybody to learn as much as they can without making assumptions about things. We hope to serve all kids.”

Support Our Schools Nebraska will have to wait until the session is over before they can start collecting signatures, and they say they have until August 30 to get the signed petitions into the Nebraska Secretary of State to get the referendum on the ballot.