COLUMBUS — Columbus Public Schools is on board with a coalition of school and agricultural groups’ principles for shaping an adequate and sustainable funding formula for K-12 education funding aimed at spurring future growth and increased incomes.
CPS board members voted 5-0 on Monday to back the Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education call for a reduction in the overreliance on property taxes for education to ensure the system is fair for all Nebraska taxpayers.
There has been an ongoing debate among Nebraska lawmakers about the fairness of a tax system that relies disproportionately on local property taxes to fund K-12 education, CPS Superintendent Troy Loeffelholz told board members.
“We’re high (in our reliance) on property taxes compared to other states,” said the superintendent, adding that Nebraska lags behind other states when it comes to state funding from sales and income taxes.
Nebraska’s K-12 schools receive 33 percent of their funding from state sources while the national average is 47 percent. The state’s K-12 schools receive 49 percent of their funding from local property taxes while the national average is 29 percent.
Surrounding states are often used as a comparison for Nebraska, but there are important differences, Loeffelholz said.
“Nebraska has corn, cattle and land,” the superintendent said while ticking off economic drivers across the state.
Other border states have additional revenue streams to tap.
Wyoming has oil and gas, Colorado has tourism dollars, South Dakota has tourism, and Kansas, Missouri and Kansas have population centers that replenish state coffers, Loeffelholz said.
Nebraskans United is made up of more than a dozen organizations, including the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association, Nebraska Wheat Growers, Schools Taking Action for Nebraska Children’s Education, Reform for Nebraska’s Future, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, Nebraska Pork Producers and Great Nebraska Schools Association.
“I’m asking all of you to support (the principles) of this organization,” Loeffelholz said before the board vote. “We’re fighting for our kids and their educations in Lincoln.”