Nebraska school choice bill advances to final round

Nebraska lawmakers on Thursday advanced a bill that would allow for school choice in the state, which remains among the last in the U.S. to expand educational opportunities for all students.

Following a 33-16 second-round vote, LB753 now heads to final reading where it will face one last round of debate.

LB753, the Adopt Opportunity Scholarships Act, would provide tax credits for donations toward private-school scholarships that would help students and families in need.

The Nebraska Catholic Conference, which advocates for the public policy interests of the Catholic Church, supports the bill because it would increase the number of scholarships available for low-income families and, in turn, create education options for those who currently can’t afford to attend a parochial school.

Catholic schools have experienced an increasing number of requests for scholarships but found themselves unable to grant them because of a lack of funding in recent years – a trend the Catholic Conference has called unsustainable.

Jeremy Ekeler, the organization’s associate director of education, thanked lawmakers for supporting the bill and making this important step possible.

“For the second time this legislative session, a super-majority of Nebraska senators stood together in support of educational opportunity for Nebraska children,” Ekeler said in a statement.

He thanked the senators voting to advance the bill and specifically recognized Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha and Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen for their school choice leadership.

“With today’s vote, Nebraska families are a step closer to greater educational opportunity,” he said.

Nebraska and North Dakota remain the only states without some sort of school choice policy.

But this week, North Dakota lawmakers approved a school choice bill expected to be signed by their governor in the coming days.

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