State senator pitches commission to study Nebraska K-12 funding

The Nebraska State Capitol Building
The Nebraska State Capitol Building(Ryan Swanigan (KOLN))
Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 3:21 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska lawmaker urged her colleagues Tuesday to create a state commission to study how to pay for K-12 public schools, an issue that has become contentious as some senators push for lower property taxes.

Sen. Wendy DeBoer, of Bennington, said the commission could look for ways to pay for schools other than property taxes while still providing equal opportunities to Nebraska children.

The commission would present its preliminary findings to lawmakers in 2022. The current, proposed commission would have 16 members, including the state education commissioner, a school finance representative, school board members and others.

DeBoer said she was open to adding members and changing the commission’s makeup.

“When we do this, we need to be truly collaborative and we need a lot of voices at the table,” she said to the Legislature’s Education Committee.

The measure’s prospects are unclear.

Nebraska lawmakers have created similar organizations before, including a water task force that brought together citizens, lawmakers and elected officials to try to mitigate flooding and water shortages.

In 2013, lawmakers created a legislative “Tax Modernization Committee” to examine Nebraska’s tax system. Some members rejected its findings, however, because the committee called for an increase in school aid and didn’t recommend income tax cuts.

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