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2013 Legislative Bills

Funding facts

Over the past two years, the state funding of public school has decreased $98 million, or 10%.  Now is the time to restore the funding to support our growing schools.  There are several alternatives:
  • Under current law, the funding would grow 17% over the next two years, closing some of the gap from the cuts and the school growth.
  • Legislative Bill 407, currently under discussion, would modify current law, and grow the funding 13% over the next two years, leaving a wider gap.
  • The governor proposed even less, a little under 10% growth over the next two years, which would not even match the 2011 funding level.
  • Other proposals include less funding in favor of a tax cut.
NPPE believes that the funding under current law is barely adequate and only begins to restore the cuts.  The other proposals are inadequate and do not meet Nebraska's obligation to fund public schools.  We simply owe it to our kids.

Legislative Bills

For funding, NPPE supports a combination of LB 407 and LB 640 with a higher funding amount:
  • The allowances and adjustments that are eliminated or revised in LB 407 should be reviewed from a policy point of view, using facts from research.  Perhaps the Teacher Education Allowance and the Instructional Time Allowance can become good policy with some revisions.
  • LB 640 should be adopted for its clarity and predictability, but the “proportional cuts” mechanism must be defined.
  • Using the mechanisms of LB 640, NPPE urges the legislature to provide schools the funding that Nebraska can afford, that is the increases provided under current law.
  • The committee’s efforts to reach out to schools (as it did for LB 407) should continue.
  • NPPE urges the committee to reach out similarly to Nebraska parents.
LB 593 allows the formation of up to 5 charter schools within the city of Omaha, with public funds from the student’s home districts. Although this bill affects only the Omaha Public Schools, it is clear that the bill is intended as a blueprint for the state. Because the bill is vague and does not address some key issues, NPPE opposes LB 593.

Details

LB 407:  This bill proposes changes to the formula used for calculating the state aid to public schools, resulting in a funding growth of 7.4% and 5.7% for 2013 and 2014.  Under current law, funding grows 11.2% and 6.1% for 2013 and 2014. 

For the elimination or revisions of allowances and adjustments,
  • The Education Committee deserves praise for crafting this bill with considerable input from Nebraska schools.
  • For the Teacher Education Allowance and Instructional Time Allowance, NPPE favors fixing them (using facts from research) rather than eliminating them.
As for the changes that modify the funding, they result in an increase that appears generous when compared to prior years.  But it is less of an increase than the current law, and does not close the gap created by the cuts from the past 2 years. Furthermore, it is below historical averages of Nebraska’s investment in its children’s education and its future economic growth.

LB 640: This bill proposes to eliminate changes to the formula that are done to generate a specific number for the state aid.  Instead, the bill proposes that the formula should run as is, and if the number generated is higher than what the state can afford, then the funding would be cut proportionally to all schools.  LB 640 does not preclude changes to the formula, but suggests the changes should be based on policy, not the need to meet a certain number.

This bill has a few advantages:
  • Transparency: It makes it clear when the Legislature chooses to fund public schools less than the amount generated by the formula.
  • Clarity: Changes to the formula would still occur, but as a matter of policy, not a matter of adjusting the funding for that year.
  • Predictability: With fewer changes to the formula, funding would be more predictable, allowing schools better planning.
However, the bill does not specify how the “proportional cuts across the board” would be done, so it is not clear what LB 640’s impact would be on rural vs. urban school, small vs. large districts.