Governor’s education funding proposal amended, advanced

A bill that would direct approximately $300 million per year in additional state funding to K-12 public schools received second-round approval from lawmakers May 9.

Sen. Rita Sanders
Sen. Rita Sanders

Under LB583, introduced by Bellevue Sen. Rita Sanders at the request of Gov. Jim Pillen, the state would pay public school districts $1,500 in foundation aid per student beginning with school fiscal year 2023-24.

Sanders offered an amendment on select file that she said would ensure the bill’s other major component — additional state aid to school districts to help cover their special education expenses — would work as intended.

The amendment would require the state Department of Education to reimburse each school district in the following school year 80 percent of the total allowable excess costs for all special education programs and support services.

The amendment further specifies that, if the state general fund appropriations for special education are insufficient to reach the 80 percent threshold, the difference would be paid from the Education Future Fund, which would be created under LB681, introduced by Sen. Robert Clements of Elmwood.

The amendment also would require the department to submit the total allowable excess costs for special education for all school districts, cooperatives of school districts and educational service units for the most recently completed school fiscal year to the governor, the Appropriations Committee and the Education Committee.

After four hours of second-round debate, Sanders filed a motion to invoke cloture, which ends debate and forces a vote on the bill and any pending amendments.

The motion succeeded on a vote of 46-0. Thirty-three votes were needed.

After voting 43-0 to adopt the Sanders amendment, senators advanced LB583 to final reading by voice vote.

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