Photo by The Nebraska Unicameral
Mike Groene on the unicameral floor Monday. Ernie Chambers is at his left.
Lawmakers agreed Tuesday to delay the deadline for certifying state aid to schools. The bill passed first round debate, 29-1. The bill also delays the announcement of budget authority and applicable allowable reserve percentages for state aid from March 1 to June 1, for this year only.
LB 119 was introduced by Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte.
The later date would allow the Legislature to make adjustments as it considers options for addressing the state’s budget shortfall.
“This procedure is required so that we do not reach that required deadline before this body has adopted a strategy for addressing the current fiscal crisis and identifying what role state aid will play in helping us to resolve that crisis,” he said.
Groene said such a delay has been used at least 15 times since the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA), which provides state aid to schools, was created in 1990.
At the same time, he acknowledged that the delay could create problems for school boards as they hire teachers for the upcoming school year.
“I realize that whenever the certification dates are pushed back it creates a degree of uncertainty for school boards as they negotiate employment contracts with teachers for the following year,” Groene said. “But we need to ensure we have the time necessary to complete the process of identifying how much revenue is available for state aid in TEEOSA.”
“We do not want to make a financial promise to our schools and then break that promise if we can help from doing that,” Groene said Tuesday.
(The Unicameral Update is the official news publication of the state legislature.)