An article in the March 9 Hastings Tribune indicated that Sen. Steve Halloran’s support of LB670 met with some criticism when he spoke to a meeting of the Hastings League of Women Voters, and rightly so.
LB670 would hand a dollar-for-dollar tax credit to businesses and individuals for donations that would be used to pay for scholarships to students in private K-12 schools. This means tax dollars that would otherwise be used to fund our public schools would be given to private schools.
Halloran said the Legislative Fiscal Office does not anticipate a significant reduction in general fund expenditures related to state aid to schools. However, if LB670 were fully utilized in the first year, it would mean a $10 million loss in state revenue.
Given the overly generous dollar-for-dollar tax break provided in LB670 there is no reason to believe the tax credit would not be fully utilized.
Further, LB670 states that if 90 percent of that $10 million is used in the first year, the cap will grow by 25 percent the next year … and the next … and the next. Within 10 years, it is estimated that the giveaway would mean a loss of $100 million per year in state revenue.
This ill-advised idea comes at the very time when the state faces a projected budget shortfall of $110 million.
Halloran also said state aid to education is $1.2 billion this year.
What he did not note was that Nebraska ranks 48th in the nation in state aid to schools. That low level of support is a key reason why Nebraska property taxes are so very high.
In fact, LB670 sponsor Sen. LouAnn Linehan of Elkhorn has publicly noted that the state of Nebraska spends about $1,000 per student less on state aid than does Iowa, and about $3,000 less per child than do South Dakota and Kansas.
Finally, Sen. Halloran advises that the slogan of the Nebraska State Education Association should be revised from “We Love Public Schools” to “We Love Students.”
The senator has confused the NSEA with the organization known as I Love Public Schools.
For the record, NSEA’s vision for the past 152 years has been to advocate for a great public education for every student. Indeed, our slogan is Great Public Schools for Every Student.
NSEA’s focus is where it should be — on our students. We hope Sen. Halloran will join us in our focus and oppose LB670.