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Education

Urgent action needed

From the Nebraska Catholic Conference, we pray that you have had a glorious Easter Octave—and we especially pray that the grace and mercy of the Resurrected Lord has found a special place in your heart.

We are nearly 30 working days away from the end of the legislative session. As we all know, time can be a very fleeting and fast-paced reality. The days ahead will be here and gone before you know it.

With so few days ahead in the legislative session, the fate of numerous legislative proposals will be decided in the waning, yet intense, days ahead.

Legislation will pass into law.

Legislation will die a brutal legislative death.

The outcome of legislation depends on each and every one of us. As Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley has said on numerous occasions: “Legislative issues are won by those who show up to the Capitol.”

This is why I’m urging your immediate action on our top priority legislative bill, LB364. In short, contact your State Senator and charitably and winsomely urge them to pass this legislation.

LB364, introduced by Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (Elkhorn), provides low-income families more scholarship opportunities to a parochial and private (non-public) school in Nebraska. The legislation does this by providing a higher tax incentive (i.e., a tax credit) to donors. Under the legislation, donors can re-direct a portion of their state income tax liability to educational scholarships for families who need and deserve school choice. This educational freedom is absolutely transformative for children.

Recently, LB364 was advanced from the Revenue Committee. Sen. Linehan also designated LB364 as her “priority” legislation which means it’ll be due for legislative debate within the next several weeks. In other words, the legislation will be debated and will be voted on for passage into law.

It bears repeating: whether LB364 can advance into law depends on us, the people of Nebraska—“Legislative issues are won by those who show up to the Capitol.”

When LB364 was advanced from the Revenue Committee, it was amended to include another important piece of legislation, LB531, which provides similar tax incentives to donors who contribute to early childhood education efforts in Nebraska. LB531, which is now part of LB364, would increase Nebraska’s investment in childcare and early childhood education.

This is legislation the Nebraska Catholic Conference also supported. As Jeremy Ekeler, our Associate Director of Education Policy, stated during the committee hearing: “Access to a plethora of education opportunities is vital for the family, child, and community at large.” Early childhood educational programs ensure that every kid starts off on the right foot in life, so they can succeed and receive an education that nurtures their God-given potential as a human being.

Currently, across the three dioceses, the Catholic Church boasts of 80 childcare centers that empower parents as the primary educator of their child, create access to educate for families of lesser means, and honor the rights of parents to find the best fit for their child.

LB364, then, provides a clear opportunity for children from early childhood all the way through high school to find an educational setting that is best for them. This legislation provides clear opportunities for Nebraskans—like you and me—to make contributions to our education system, so that our state can continue to thrive not only for today but for generations to come.

This is why it is absolutely imperative that you contact your State Senator. Reach out to them and ask them to support both tax credit programs and to invest in kids all across our state.

For more information on how to contact your State Senator, visit www.nebraskalegislature.gov. For more information about LB364, visit www.InvestInKidsNebraska.org or www.necatholic.org. As well, join the Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska during your visit to our website.

In addition to your advocacy efforts via phone, e-mail, and letters, do not forget to pray for the success of LB364. In the words of the Psalmist: “Bless the work of our hands, O Lord; bless the work of our hands” (Ps. 90:17).

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