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Nebraska Legislature Talks Public School Funding Bills

The Nebraska Legislature’s education committee heard Tuesday, ideas on how to pay for public schools while keeping property taxes as low as possible. There were three bills that took different approaches but all were aimed at fixing unequal distribution of state aid to schools and avoiding increases in taxes.

Senator Curt Friesen of Henderson wanted to eliminate the school aid formula, and come up with a deadline. Friesen said that “this eliminates the TEEOSA formula by 2022, giving three years to come up with a responsible solution.” The senator continued to say ” we have heard how the TEEOSA formula is broken, so let’s come up with a fix.”

Another bill presented was by Senator Mike Groene of North Platte that would provide more state aid so cities and counties don’t need to collect as much property tax. Groene said the bill will “dedicate 25% of the state’s prior year income from income taxes to include individual and corporate, plus sales tax revenue distributed equally on a K-12 basis.” This income will be divided according to the amount of students in each school district.

The third bill from Senator Tom Brewer of Gordon would limit the amount of property taxes local governments could collect and would be a constitutional amendment. “Property taxes are too high in Nebraska because the Legislature does not appropriate enough money for K-12 education.” Gordon talked about a reliance on property taxes for funding. “This over reliance continues and will keep us going for another 50 years, because there is no constitutional limit on how much property tax can be used to fund schools.”

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