Nebraska voters to decide on veto referendum to repeal tax credits for education scholarship accounts

The Nebraska Secretary of State announced that a veto referendum to repeal Legislative Bill 75—an act that established tax credits for taxpayers who contribute to education scholarships for students to attend private schools—qualified for the November 2024 ballot on Oct. 10.

Support Our Schools, the committee behind the referendum, submitted over 117,000 signatures on Aug. 30. The signature requirement for a veto referendum without suspending the law prior to the election is 5% of registered voters at the time of signature submission, which was 61,308 signatures. County officials verified that proponents submitted 91,861 valid signatures.

Support Our Schools received $1.7 million in cash and in-kind contributions according to campaign finance reports that covered through Sept. 24. The top donors to the campaign were the National Education Association ($862,000), the Nebraska State Education Association ($471,381), and Opensky Policy Institute ($131,117).

The committee has also received endorsements from the League of Women Voters of Nebraska, Omaha NAACP, the Nebraska Civic Engagement Table, and the Parent-Teacher Association of Nebraska.

Jenni Benson, a sponsor of Support Our Schools Nebraska and president of the Nebraska State Education Association, said, “The overwhelming success of this petition sends a clear message to the governor and state lawmakers: Nebraskans want to vote on the issue of diverting public tax dollars to pay for private schools.” 

State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R-39), who introduced LB 753, responded to arguments made by the referendum campaign, saying, “They’re saying that we are taking money away from the public schools. It is insulting to the Legislature, which appropriated $300 million in new dollars for education, on top of a billion-dollar Education Future Fund.”

Keep Kids First is the committee registered in support of upholding LB 753. It received $1.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions. The top donors to the campaign were the American Federation for Children Growth Fund ($391,570.81), the American Federation for Children ($269,927.75), C.L. Werner ($100,000), and Gov. Jim Pillen (R) ($100,000).

The referendum is the first ballot measure to be certified for the Nov. 2024 ballot in Nebraska.

Nebraska voters last decided on a veto referendum in 2016 when 60.6% of voters voted to repeal a ban on the death penalty. Nebraskans have decided on 17 veto referendums—upholding six laws and repealing 11.

Additional reading: Nebraska 2024 ballot measures