A bill to maintain state school spending at current levels to give a break to local districts moves forward in the legislature.
Education Committee chairwoman, Senator Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, told colleagues they have an opportunity to help local school districts which had to absorb a loss of state funding after the 2008 recession.
“However, now the economy is on the mend and our children deserve to have their schools funded in a way that allows educators to focus on education instead of simply how to pay the bills,” Sullivan said in her opening statement on LB 725.
The bill makes an adjustment in the state school funding formula.
An increase in property valuations has lessened the state funding requirement, dropping the state obligation by $35.7 million. The bill lowers the local funding obligation and keeps state funding basically at the level approved last year when the Unicameral passed the biennial budget.
Some lawmakers suggested the money could be returned to the taxpayers.
Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion implied the legislature lacked the will to provide a tax break.
“The thought of just giving it back to the taxpayers is just beyond the collective imagination of this body,” Kintner stated.
Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff, though, countered that if the legislature truly wants to provide tax relief, it needs to closely examine the $7 billion in tax exemptions it grants.
LB 725 advanced on a 29-0 vote, with 11 senators abstaining.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]