School Foundation Aid Advances


     Nebraska lawmakers gave unanimous 2nd-round approval Tuesday to a key part of Governor Jim Pillen’s package of income and property tax relief proposals, but not until after another 4 hours of filibuster by opponents of an anti-gender-affirmation bill.

     LB 583 provides all school districts in the state with $1,500 per student in foundation aid and helps cover 80% of special education costs. It’s Nebraska’s largest state investment in K-12 education since state aid to education was revamped in 1990.

      The money would come from a $1 billion dollar Education Future Fund in the separate budget created by using about half of the state’s current cash reserve with $250-million more the following year. Future legislatures would set funding beyond that.

     Rural senators applauded the bill, just as they did on 1st-round debate, as finally addressing the fact that farmers and ranchers and rural property carry a disproportionate share of the costs of educating local students.

      The plan is seen as a compromise addressing concerns of both rural and urban districts, recognizing longstanding concerns about smaller, rural districts that receive little to no state aid and acknowledging that every district, large and small, needs help with special education costs.