3% Cap On School Property Tax Revenue Increase Gets Hearing


     The Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee held a hearing yesterday on a 3% lid on the growth of property tax revenue for schools – a key part of Governor Jim Pillen’s plan to increase state funding for K-12 schools and reduce property taxes.

    There are exceptions for schools with high student growth, a high poverty level, or a high number of students whose first language isn’t English. It also allows an override by 70% of a school board or 60% of local voters.

     Witnesses testifying against the bill outnumbered those speaking in support, but the supporters included Governor Pillen, who said “it’s important to be crystal clear” the bill is part of a package reforming education, funding, and tax policy.

    Pillen told the committee his proposed increases in state aid to education have to be accompanied by spending restraint to ensure Nebraskans get relief from property taxes.

    Other supporters included 8 farm groups and conservative organizations such as Americans for Prosperity and the Lincoln Independent Business Association.

      Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom took a neutral position because it didn’t think the bill went far enough in lowering school spending. 

   Several education groups also offered neutral testimony, saying they support Pillen’s plans to boost state funding, currently next-to-last nationally, but oppose several aspects of the lid bill. 

    Other education representatives spoke against the bill, saying it would take away local control of education, place an “arbitrary cap on school spending at a time when inflation is 7%, and hurt efforts to raise wages to meet a shortage of teachers and staff.