Finding a fair way to disperse state funds for education continues to be a contentious issue for Nebraska lawmakers.
Senator Jim Scheer, of Norfolk, is a member of the legislature’s Education Committee and also served on the State Board of Education. Scheer says he and his fellow committee members met in Lincoln last weekend to look at several funding options, including one of his own.
“We can look at sales tax and income tax from the perspective of each individual district,” Scheer says, “and perhaps trying to return a small portion of the sales tax to each district and then let the property tax augment that so that districts aren’t exclusively dependent on a property tax.”
Scheer says the sales tax option would help to reduce tensions between the state’s large and small school districts since it would allow each of the districts to collect revenue using their own resources.
The panel’s work on state equalization funding issues caused a lot of tension between the state’s large and small school districts. Scheer says one idea is to allow individual school districts to institute special sales or income taxes to help with local funding for education. He’s not sure how the idea will be received.
“I’m sure there will be some resistence to that type of concept,” Scheer says. “Some will welcome that as an additional change of revenue sourcing, especially those that are paying all of the district’s funds from the local property tax.”
Scheer, who has served on the State Board of Education, says he may introduce such a bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January of 2014.
By Paul Hughes, WJAG, Norfolk