Gov. Jim Pillen gathers with senators, students and school choice advocates outside the State Capitol in Lincoln on May 30, when the Opportunity Scholarships Act was signed. GOV. PILLEN’S OFFICE


Nebraska Catholic Conference seeks to preserve scholarship tax credit

The Nebraska Catholic Conference is urging people to reject a petition drive seeking to repeal a newly passed tax credit program – the Opportunity Scholarships Act – which would help students in need attend Catholic and other private schools.

The Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) recommendation follows a June 6 announcement by a public school teacher’s union, the Nebraska State Education Association, of the petition drive launch.

The Opportunity Scholarships Act, which had just been signed into law May 30, offers $25 million a year in tax credits for donations to qualified scholarship programs. The scholarships would help students in low-income families and foster care, those experiencing bullying or harassment and those with a parent or guardian in the military. Gov. Jim 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.

With Pillen’s signature, Nebraska became one of the last states to offer a school choice program. Twenty other states offer scholarship tax credit programs.

“School choice programs have been proven to increase academic outcomes for students participating in private school choice, improve public school outcomes, save taxpayers money, and decrease racial segregation,” said Tom Venzor, the NCC’s executive director.

“Students should not be tied down by the zip code they are born in,” Pillen said. “Our current education system does not allow for underprivileged students to attend a private school or choose a different school district to live in. You need money and wealth to live in neighboring districts that are performing higher than others.”

“In Nebraska, we need to be funding students, not systems,” Pillen said.

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