Governor signs school choice measure into law
May 30, 2023
With a swoop of a pen, Gov. Jim Pillen made school choice an option in Nebraska for students who might not otherwise be able to attend Catholic schools.
Pillen signed LB753 – the Opportunity Scholarships Act – into law May 30 at the State Capitol in Lincoln, surrounded by state senators, school choice advocates and students.
The measure offers $25 million a year in tax credits for scholarships to students in need, including those in low-income families and foster care, those experiencing bullying or harassment and those with a parent or guardian in the military. Pillen’s budget covers $50 million in tax credits over two years.
Scholarships would be available for students beginning in the 2024-25 school year.
“This legislation is a historic step forward for the state of Nebraska,” Pillen said. “Our kids are our future, and we all believe that every Nebraska kid should have the opportunity to have their educational needs met, whether they live in Omaha or Scottsbluff. This law ensures that we are funding students, not systems.”
It was a moment years in the making for Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, who introduced the bill and others like it in previous legislative sessions.
“Today is about the kids and families in Nebraska whose lives will be changed thanks to the freedom to attend a school that best fits their needs,” she said. “It has been my honor and privilege to be part of this effort and it would not have been possible without the leadership and commitment of Governor Pillen, Speaker (John) Arch, so many of my colleagues in the Legislature, and hundreds of advocates and families who have been fighting to open the doors of opportunity to kids who need it most.”
“This is not an anti-public school bill,” said Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, who also pushed for the measure. “This is a pro-parent bill. This is a bill that gives parents an option to help them and to give their kid a hope for their education.”
“Today, we are blessed to witness the historic signing of this bill, which will give opportunity to Nebraska kids, regardless of their socioeconomic status,” said Tanya Santos, principal at Holy Name School in Omaha. “Many more parents will have the ability to choose the right educational fit for our children.”
“LB753 ensures that more Nebraska parents have the opportunity to find the best school for their children,” said Jeremy Ekeler, associate director of education policy for the Nebraska Catholic Conference. “This is critical because kids get just one shot at an education. We thank Governor Pillen, Senator Wayne, and especially Senator Linehan for their support of kids and parents.”
“This program will give children an opportunity to get an education that best fits them in their academic lifetime,” said Clarice Jackson, executive director for the Voice Advocacy Center. “These children cannot wait, and now they will finally have a chance.”