State of the States
Nebraska Governor Aims to Cut Taxes While Increasing K-12 Education Funds
Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska called for both lower taxes and higher spending on K-12 education in his State of the State address last week.
The Republican said the K-12 increases over the two-year budget cycle would represent about half of all growth in state spending during that time.“[E]ducation and Nebraska’s continued economic vitality go hand in hand,” Gov. Heineman said. “My budget makes the education of our children a priority,” he told the legislature in the Jan. 11 speech, and would “fully fund” the state’s formula for aid to education, the main state source for school spending.
Funding under the formula, which is $701 million for the fiscal year that ends June 30, would grow by $40 million for the next fiscal year, an increase of nearly 6 percent. In the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2008, it would rise by an additional $131 million, or 12.2 percent.
State spending on special education would increase by 3 percent each year under the governor’s budget plan.
Mr. Heineman also called for reducing state taxes by $475 million over the next two years, a tax cut he said was “aimed at hard-working, middle-class families.”
He touched generally on a few related education issues in his address, such as ensuring that the state’s best teachers are placed in the most-challenged schools. But he cautioned that he is not in favor of creating costly new education programs now.
“Education is receiving a record $1.9 billion in state aid and special education funding in this biennium,” the governor said. “This is not the year for new programs that require additional funds.”
Vol. 26, Issue 19, Page 19