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Tax credit scholarship bill advances from committee

Tax credit scholarship bill advances from committee. (MGN)

The Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee voted 5-3 to advance LB295 to the floor for full debate in 2018. The bill will allow tax credits for individuals and businesses contributing to qualified scholarship organizations that provide tuition assistance for low and middle-income families.

“Passage of LB295 will afford low and middle-income families access to education alternatives not otherwise available due to financial barriers. This legislation is a major milestone towards providing school choice,” said Senator Jim Smith, the bill’s sponsor and Chair of the Revenue Committee.

For several years, similar legislation has stalled in Committee after facing stiff opposition from special interests groups. However, an early childhood tax-credit bill, LB889, passed in 2016 with broad bipartisan support.

“Tax credits, along side our best traditional district schools, will provide yet another tool for families, students, and this state to improve the quality of education and opportunity we offer all children,” said Educate Nebraska’s Executive Director, Katie Linehan. “We applaud Senator Smith’s leadership and courage in fighting to ensure every child has access to a high quality education, regardless of zip code,” Linehan said.

LB295 was one of three school choice bills introduced during the 2017 session. Until now, no school choice legislation has advanced to the floor for full and fair debate by the entire body.

Twenty-one K-12 tax-credit scholarship programs exist in 17 states . And, while more than 45 states and the District of Columbia offer families some form of school choice, including public charter schools and private school choice, Nebraska does not.

The legislation takes no funding away from the state aid formula (TEEOSA) or local school districts. Florida, home to the largest tax-credit scholarship program in the country, saves $1.49 for every dollar in lost revenue through their tax-credit program. “This is a wise investment for Nebraska and, most importantly, for kids,” Linehan said.

Educate Nebraska focuses on expanding high quality school choices, empowering effective educators, and utilizing meaningful data to drive improvement. To learn more, visit www.EducateNebraska.org.

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