Nebraska Legislature Passes Historic School Choice Bill
The American Federation for Children applauds the Nebraska legislature for passing the state’s first school choice bill today, a tax credit-funded program that will provide scholarship opportunities for children to attend a private school of their parents’ choice.
For more than a decade, advocates and families have been fighting to pass school choice legislation in Nebraska. Those efforts have always faced stubborn resistance from special interest groups – in particular, the state teachers’ union.
Today, parents won. Thirty-three senators, representing both political parties, bravely stood with families, overcame a filibuster, and sent the bill to Governor Pillen’s desk.
Statement from Lauren Garcia, State Director of the American Federation for Children-Nebraska:
“Children and families won today in a long battle to tear down barriers to equal opportunity for a high-quality education that meets the unique needs of every child. We are so grateful to the tireless and undeterrable champion for kids, Senator Lou Ann Linehan, and for the courageous senators who have supported this effort along the way. We look forward to the work ahead to ensure this program thrives and serves the families in most need of another educational option.”
Statement from Senator Lou Ann Linehan, sponsor of LB753 and longtime champion:
“Today is about the kids and families in Nebraska whose lives will be changed thanks to the freedom to attend a school that best fits their needs. It has been my honor and privilege to be part of this effort, and it would not have been possible without the leadership and commitment of Governor Pillen, Speaker Arch, so many of my colleagues in the legislature, and hundreds of advocates and families who have been fighting to open the doors of opportunity to kids who need it most. It cannot go unsaid that Senator Justin Wayne has been essential to this effort and has boldly and consistently put the best interests of children before political gain. We simply could not have done this without his heroic leadership.”
- The Opportunity Scholarship Act, LB753, creates a $100 million tax credit scholarship program
- Students from lower-income families, students with special needs, students who experience bullying, students from military families, students in foster care, and students who are denied option enrollment into a non-zone public school are eligible for scholarships
- The program gives priority to children from the lowest-income families first, giving final priority to families making less than 300% of the federal Free and Reduced Lunch rate
- The average scholarship amount is capped at 75% of state per-pupil funding, which equates to approximately $9,200
- Donors to non-profit scholarship granting organizations may receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to 50% of their total income tax liability and not to exceed $100,000
- The Opportunity Scholarship Act is the first school choice program ever passed in Nebraska, and with it, Nebraska’s legislature becomes the 50th in the nation to pass school choice in the form of a private school program or charter school law