A new coalition has formed to urge the Unicameral to lessen the reliance on property taxes to fund public schools.
A number of groups make up Nebraskans United for Property Reform and Education.
York School Superintendent Mike Lucas told a Capitol news conference Nebraska needs adequate and sustainable school funding.
“Low levels of state funding for public education is at the heart of Nebraska’s property tax issues,” according to Lucas, who represented Schools Taking Action for Nebraska Children’s Education. “It’s not school spending. It’s a funding problem.”
According to the coalition, while Nebraska ranks high among the states in property tax burden, it ranks 49th in percentage of education funding which comes from the state. While not endorsing any specific legislation, the coalition calls for a more balanced funding approach to public schools.
Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen asserted that study after study over the years have told lawmakers Nebraska doesn’t have a balanced approach to funding schools.
“I would ask the legislature to revisit, review, and implement the gist of all of their own studies for the last 30 years,” Hansen stated.
Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said something has to give.
“There’s a clear understanding that the way that we fund education today is not sustainable, that we’re not able to continue to shift the burden onto property taxpayers every year as we move down the road, that at some point that will not work,” according to Nelson. “And so we need to find solutions that have a long-term sustainability to them.”
The coalition claims that while Nebraska schools receive about a third of their funding from state sources, most states provide about half the funding for their schools. In addition, the coalition states Nebraska schools receive 49% of their funding from local property taxes while the national average is 29%.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]