Opponents of Opportunity Scholarships say they have the signatures to place the measure on the ballot
August 31, 2023
Opponents of a tax credit program that would help students in need attend the Catholic or private school that best fits their needs say they have collected enough signatures to put the Opportunity Scholarships Act on the November 2024 ballot.
Tom Venzor, the executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, said even if enough signatures were collected to place the Opportunity Scholarships Act, or LB753, on the ballot, it does not constitute a defeat.
“The fight for educational freedom has just begun,” Venzor said. “This will mean a year filled with educating the public on the value of school choice. Sadly, it will also mean a continued campaign of misinformation against school choice by opponents. That said, the Opportunity Scholarships Act will go into legal enactment very soon. When the bill takes effect, we look forward to the first round of scholarships reaching children in need for the 2024-2025 school year.”
Members of “Support Our Schools” held a press conference Wednesday to announce that they had gathered enough signatures to place LB753 on the ballot. They were required to collect at least 61,000 signatures across 38 counties.
Jenni Benson, Nebraska State Education Association president, said that “Support Our Schools” delivered 117,145 signatures to the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office.
Official results won’t be available for three to five weeks.
The Opportunity Scholarships Act, 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.
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,” Venzor said.
The Associate Director of Education Policy for the Nebraska Catholic Conference, Jeremy Ekeler, said that despite efforts by opponents of LB753, Opportunity Scholarships will be provided to countless children across Nebraska soon. “Support Our Schools” did not collect the necessary number of signatures to suspend the program until a potential ballot measure.
“As students begin receiving scholarships in the coming months, Nebraskans will have the chance to see the number one goal of this legislation in action: to ensure families are empowered to find the best educational fit for their child,” Ekeler said. “The Opportunity Scholarships Act honors the rights of parents as the first educators of their children, an inherent right and truth that will ultimately win the day.”