Sen. Lou Ann Linehan’s LB 364 was debated yesterday — a bill that would create tax credit scholarships for poor children whose parents want a chance to send their child to a private school.
It was filibustered for a full eight hours and the cloture vote was taken. It fell five votes short of the 33 votes needed.
Sen. Linehan joined the legislature the same time I did. This was the sixth time she has introduced this bill and it has died in committee or from a filibuster every time. I am confident she will continue to introduce it. Nebraska continues to be one of two states that have no form of school choice (aka: parents deciding how their tax dollars will be spent for their child’s education.)
The tax credit scholarship would have “cost” the legislature $5 million in lost income tax revenue. No taxpayer would be allowed to use this tax credit for more than 50% of their tax liability. There was an amendment planned for the bill that would have put a sunset provision in the law, automatically ending the program in a few years unless reaffirmed by another vote of the legislature.
The average cost of a year of tuition at a Nebraska private school is about $4,000. Assuming someone wished to make a donation to the charity granting the scholarship to pay for one child’s private school education for a year, they would have to owe the state of Nebraska at least $8,000 in income taxes to start with.
The Nebraskans who would participate in this are the sort of folks who are already paying a lot of taxes. We are a high tax state so it’s no surprise that we have a lot of different tax credits in the state tax code. But this is the only one I know of that not only helps someone lower their tax liability, it also helps a poor kid get a better education.
Sadly, a number of senators who themselves can afford private schools for their own children voted against this bill.
The various teachers’ unions, along with the leadership of a number of large public-school districts in Nebraska, have become ever-more detached from the desires of ordinary families on this and other issues concerning their child’s education.
Parents with children in an under-performing public school want options. I believe the vote taken yesterday is going to make for some really tough questions for a number of re-election campaigns, and it should.
Please check out how your senator voted: https://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_votes.php?KeyID=7452
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