Nebraska lawmakers wrestle with school aid formula

Nebraska lawmakers debated Tuesday over potential changes to the school-aid formula and potential property tax relief.
Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 5:51 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - While this year’s legislative session has largely been dominated by the filibuster, some senators had a different approach Tuesday.

They asked colleagues why they should rubber-stamp something coming out of committee just because it’s a key part of the governor’s plan to rework school aid and property tax relief.

For new State Sen. Brad von Gillern of Elkhorn, he pointed out this is the first time he’s witnessed what has often been discussed over the years about the Unicameral: the sometimes-stark divide between rural and urban senators.

But what was being debated was an amendment proposed by a rural senator, Tom Brandt of Plymouth, a village near Beatrice. He said what was put forth by Gov. Jim Pillen’s team didn’t go far enough, and his amendment would help with the explosion in agricultural land valuations.

“That was the purpose of bringing this, to show that there are alternatives, that a package decided by a few, maybe there are some more ideas out there that could be included,” Brandt said. “I haven’t worked this bill at all. I haven’t asked one person in here for their vote.”

Sen. Brandt also argued that large school districts would get more money under his amendment, compared to LB583, which is the governor’s school aid plan.

For example, in year three Omaha Public Schools would get $6 million more. Also big boosts for Lincoln Public Schools from $24 million to $37 million. There are large increases for Millard Schools, Papillion-Lavista, and Elkhorn.

Opponents argued that Amendment 1124 was too expensive and hadn’t been fully vetted.

Amendment 1124 failed to get 25 votes needed to move forward. However, it did get 17 “yes” votes, which could mean the governor’s proposal wouldn’t survive a filibuster without some sort of compromise.

LB583 advanced in the Unicam on Tuesday.