Nebraska campaign to repeal tax credits for private education scholarship accounts files signatures

Support Our Schools Nebraska filed more than 117,000 signatures on Aug. 30 for a veto referendum to repeal Legislative Bill 753, which authorized tax credits for taxpayers who contribute to education scholarships for students to attend private schools. 

In Nebraska, the number of signatures required for a veto referendum—without suspending the enactment of the targeted legislation—is equal to 5% of registered voters as of the deadline for filing signatures, which is about 60,000 valid signatures. In order to suspend the law before a vote, sponsors would have needed valid signatures equal to 10% of registered voters or about 120,000 signatures. The tax credits will take effect for tax year 2024 even if the referendum qualifies for the November 2024 ballot.

The deadline for filing signatures for a veto referendum was Aug. 30, which was 90 days after the legislature adjourned.

LB 753 was approved in the Nebraska State Senate by a vote of 33-11 on May 24, 2023. Gov. Jim Pillen (R) signed it on May 30. Gov. Pillen said, “This legislation is a historic step forward for the state of Nebraska. 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.”

Support Our Schools Nebraska has been endorsed by the Nebraska State Education Association, a teachers union. The campaign’s website says, “In Nebraska, 9 in 10 students attend our public schools. Voucher tax schemes like LB753 funnel money away from our already-underfunded public schools and children and give tax dollars to private schools, including those that discriminate against children and their families.”

The last veto referendum to qualify for the ballot in Nebraska was in 2016 when voters repealed a law banning the death penalty. Sponsors of Referendum 426 filed enough signatures to suspend the law prior to the election. The law was repealed with 60.64% of voters deciding against the ban.

In Nebraska, a total of 106 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2022. Sixty-five ballot measures were approved, and 41 ballot measures were defeated.

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