State Investment in Public Education Needs to be Repaid in Property Tax Relief
By Governor Jim Pillen
December 22, 2023
Upon entering my first legislative session it was imperative that we tighten the state’s belt. We need to run government like a business, which means doing more with less, cutting spending and growing services. It’s vital that we invest in our future -- our kids -- and have transformative tax policy change.
This year, the state became 100% responsible for funding of community colleges and took on a greater role in funding K-12 education. That allowed us to move from 49th in the nation to 27th. The objective is to shift funding for education away from local property taxes and utilize the state’s investment to provide dollar-for-dollar property tax relief.
Through the infusion of state dollars, as well as the creation of the Education Future Fund, our Nebraska Legislature delivered historic tax relief. While some school districts have taken the funding, and its purpose, to heart – others have not. The increase in property tax attributed to K-12 public schools in 2024 has reached $85 million. As the state has increased its financial commitment to the districts, many have responded by bloating their budgets.
It is fair to say that districts have been saddled with inflationary costs as well as pay increases to keep teachers and staff. Some may have legitimate needs that are long overdue. But to infuse school coffers with $324 million and then watch property taxes rise correspondingly is beyond disappointing. It simply cannot happen.
Since 1972, there have been three attempts to deliver property tax relief by having the state assume a larger portion of school aid. And each time, the promise of reduced property taxes has eroded away. We will work very hard with superintendents this upcoming year to be sure the intent of the law is carried out.
We will continue to partner with our districts, to understand their needs and we will ask them to be better partners in managing their budgets. It is a commitment that requires both sides if it is to be successful.
Nebraska schools deliver when it comes to providing a quality education. They are dedicated to our kids and committed to their success. Together, we can rely on state funding, educate our kids, and cut property taxes.
If you have questions about the state’s investment in public education and property tax relief, please call my office at 402-471-2244 or email me at email@example.com.