Down to the Core: The Governor's Proposal


Education finance is now taking center stage after Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman killed his tax bills.

After receiving many calls from superintendents across the state, Heineman wanted to come up with his own plan to fix the state aid formula.

"When you talk about the state aid to education formula, I think it is broken," said Heineman.

He proposed a plan that would pour millions of dollars to the state-aid program. The plan includes an increase of 5 percent in state aid for the next two years along with special education funding. That would be about a $30 million increase over two years.

Right now there's $852 million in the state aid program; if Heineman's proposals go through that number would raise to $939 million in 2015.

"I'd like to see a little bit more than that. I don't know how that's going to fit in the budget," said speaker of the legislature Sen. Greg Adams.

"Right now we've got a formula written for 249 school districts and about 50 of them take more than half of the state aid creates all sorts of volatility. I'd much prefer a system where the superintendents know every year that it was going to grow about 3-to-5 percent, they can live with that," said Heineman.

The increase in special education funding will not only go towards those school district who receive the equalization aid, but to all 249 of them.

"We do have a need for resources primarily in the form of funding," said Nebraska Education Commissioner Dr. Roger Breed.

"The demands on education and specifically special education don't go away whenever a recession comes. Those students still walk in the doorway everyday and you got to deal with it," said Adams.

Right now the proposals sit well with the newly elected education chairwoman Sen. Kate Sullivan from Cedar Rapids, Neb.

"I think that's a great starting point that gives the committee ample opportunity to start the discussion," said Sullivan.

The breaking point in this discussion though is that Heineman wants this to happen without any tax increases.