Lincoln Pius X Catholic High School

All about LB295: Opportunity Scholarship Act

The Nebraska Catholic Conference strongly supports the Opportunity Scholarship Act (LB 295), which has advanced from the Revenue Committee by a 5-3 vote. The Act would create a tax credit to incentivize donations to non-profit “scholarship granting organizations”, which turn nearly all their revenue into private-school scholarships for low- and middle-income families. Private education choice is growing in popularity. But we need your help to get the bill across the finish line.

Downloadable PDFs: What You Can Do to Enact Education Freedom in Nebraska  |  Enacting Education Freedom in Nebraska

How parents, students, and supporters can help

Share your story

If you have a personal story about a positive experience with Catholic schools, you can have a powerful impact by sharing it with others. Maybe you wanted a faith-based environment for your child. Maybe Catholic school better met your child’s needs. Maybe you or your child have benefited from a privately-funded scholarship and you want others to have the same opportunity.

Call, email, or write your senator and the Governor

Contact your senator and Governor Ricketts to personally convey why Catholic school was best for your child, or to simply encourage them to support Opportunity Scholarships (LB 295). You can find your senator’s information by visiting nebraskalegislature.gov.

Meet with your senator

Senators appreciate hearing directly from constituents, especially about how public policy can personally change lives. Call your senator’s office and set up a meeting, or talk to them in the Capitol Rotunda during floor debates. Contact the Nebraska Catholic Conference for more information.

Write a letter-to-the-editor

Writing a letter-to-the-editor can be a powerful, easy way of demonstrating public support. The NCC can help share it with others on social media and on our website. Here are some talking points to consider, beyond your personal story:

  • Different children have different needs.
  • Every child has the right to an education that best meets their unique needs.
  • LB 295 simply helps incentivize more private donations to help fund scholarships for low- and middle-income children.
  • Tax-credit scholarships are not vouchers. They are funded purely by private donations, not public school funds.
  • Tax-credit scholarships exist in 18 states, including Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas.
  • LB 295 saves taxpayer dollars. Nebraska’s private schools already save $450 million in public funds every year. LB 295 will help more children enroll in these schools, saving even more money.
  • Successful private schools promote successful public schools, and vice versa.

A few things to remember …

  • Keep it positive! Personal stories and compelling information about Catholic education are key. Our belief is not that Catholic schools are against, but rather partners with, public schools.
  • Show uniqueness. Private, religious schools can best respond to families who desire a faith-based education for their children and can form young people into engaged and generous citizens.
  • Engage others. Talk to friends and family about the importance of education choice, and the opportunity in Nebraska to help more low- and middle-income students attend nonpublic schools.

Enacting Education Freedom in Nebraska

Education Choice

• Parents have the right to choose a school for their children which corresponds to their own convictions (CCC #2229) and should have true liberty in their choice of schools.
• Protects religious freedom by lifting the financial burdens that prevent many families from choosing faith-based education.

LB295 Overview

  • The Opportunity Scholarships Act provides for private school scholarships for low-income students.
  • It does so by enacting a tax credit for donations to nonprofit scholarship granting organizations.

Why we need LP295

  • Too many parents in our state lack true freedom of education choice.
  • Many cannot afford to pay both taxes in support of government schools and tuition for parochial or other private schools.
  • This bill will give low- and middle-income families privately funded scholarships to choose a private education for their children.

This Will Help Nebraska

  • More opportunities for low-income students.
  • Nebraska will join 18 other states with similar laws which have saved more than $1.8 billion all together.
  • Higher achievement and college enrollment rates.
  • Increased civic participation.

What You Can Do to Pass LB295

  • Join our network for important updates/action items.
  • Write Letters to the Editor.
  • Write to your Senator.
  • Write to Governor Ricketts.
  • Host an LB295 info session.
  • Share information on social media.

More about Educational Choice and LB295

Why do we need LB295?

Every single child in Nebraska deserves to go to a school that best suits his or her needs, regardless of income. LB295 allows for more private, not public funds, for scholarships to attend private school which too many cannot otherwise afford. In 2017, Children’s Scholarship Fund of Omaha turned away 635 applications due to lack of scholarship funds.

How will LB295 work?

LB295 will create a state income tax credit for donations to scholarship granting organizations, i.e., nonprofits that turn nearly all their revenue into private-school scholarships. Participating schools mustbe approved or accredited by the state and follow the nondiscrimination requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

What is a tax credit?

A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of one’s tax liability, in contrast to a tax deduction, which merely reduces one’s taxable income.

Who will LB295 help?

A first-time recipient must be transferring from public to private school – unless they are entering private-school Kindergarten, private school 9th grade, or are a sibling of any of these other recipients. The bill is focused on families who likely have no other choice but public schools. An eligible family’s income must be lower than twice the Free-and-Reduced-Lunch level.

Will LB29 hurt public schools?

LB295 steers only private – not public – funds to private-school students. It helps reduce costly overcrowding in Lincoln and Omaha public schools. It actually saves state tax dollars in short order by slowing the amount of state aid needed for public schools. If a recipient transfers from public to private school, it will likely leave more resources for the state to spend on fewer students.

How will this affect private schools?

Participation will be voluntary for all private schools. The state will be prohibited from interpreting the Opportunity Scholarships Act in any way that expands its authority to control or intrude upon
private schools.