Gov. Pillen, along with several senators, announced his proposal to change how the state funds public education in Nebraska. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue called the proposal a “step in the right direction” towards reforming how K-12 education is funded.
The legislative package would provide public school districts with $1,500 in foundation aid for every student enrolled, dedicate more dollars to special education, and create a fund to ensure those programs are sustainable into the future.
“Education is important to all of us in Nebraska, but there is a clear inequity in our current funding system when 158 of the 244 school districts in our state receive no state equalization aid. This proposal aims at correcting that imbalance by doing more to fulfill the state’s obligation to fund K-12 education across Nebraska while also reducing property taxes,” said McHargue.
The package also includes a bill that would place a “soft cap” of no more than 3 percent annually on increased school spending. The cap is designed to ensure relief to property taxpayers. School districts would need the approval of a supermajority of their board or 60 percent of district voters to override the cap.
The proposal reflects a $2.5 billion investment in public education by 2030.
“We want to thank Gov. Pillen, state senators, and other stakeholders who helped bring the proposal to the table. We look forward to working with the Legislature this session to address the long-standing concern of how we fund education while respecting the need to reduce property tax pressures on Nebraska taxpayers,” said McHargue.
The package of introduced bills is a result of Gov. Pillen’s School Finance Reform Committee, which provided recommendations on how to update and reform the state’s school aid formula and Nebraska Farm Bureau serves on the committee. Reducing Nebraska’s overreliance of property taxes and seeking a more balance system to fund education is a NEFB policy priority.
Nebraska Farm Bureau will be digging deeper into the proposal and looks forward to being part of the larger conversation, which will include other tax measures.