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Common Cause report: School districts pay lobbyists at statehouseTell North Platte what you think

Fewer than two dozen Nebraska public school districts spent more than $2.3 million in the past five years, lobbying the Legislature in hopes of influencing lawmakers to protect their interests.

That data is from Common Cause Nebraska's 2017 Lobby Report, "Many public entities spend tax dollars to get more tax dollars."

The report, based on information filed with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, details which school districts have hired lobbyists to influence the legislature.

It shows that Omaha Public Schools spent the most -- $359,723 over the five-year period. 

Second in line was Millard on the outskirts of Omaha at $315,784.

Lincoln Public Schools was third at $224,270. 

The district that spent the least lobbying was Lakeview near Columbus, which spent $27,000. 

A couple districts have withdrawn from spending on lobbying in recent years.

Columbus Public Schools lobbied in previous years, but spent no lobbying money in the past three years.

Fremont hasn't invested in lobbying for two years, although it did previously. 

Only 17 of Nebraska's 245 school districts, plus the Omaha-area Learning Community, invested in lobbying efforts, the Common Cause report said. 

The majority of the lobbying districts are in the state's urban areas. For the most part, districts in rural areas do not have paid lobbyists representing their interests at the Capitol, the report showed.

While many school districts cannot afford to lobby, most of the districts that do show no signs of discontinuing their lobbying investments. 

For example, Papillion Public Schools made no lobbying investment in 2012, but consistently spent $36,200 per year from 2014 to 2016 on the effort.

"Those school districts that have the funds to invest in lobbying exert greater influence, while those districts lacking in wealth find themselves on the outside looking in," the report said. "The lobby does not work for all the children, only those children in the districts that can pay." 


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 4/7/2017
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