This past session, a number of good bills failed to pass. LB 364 is a bill from Sen. Lou Ann Linehan called the Opportunity Scholarship Act. Sen. Linehan and I both came into the Legislature in 2017. She introduces this bill every session.
In her bill, individual and corporate taxpayers would qualify for a nonrefundable tax credit equal to the amount the taxpayer contributed to a scholarship-granting organization. No taxpayer would receive a tax credit exceeding 50% of their state income tax. The idea is pretty simple. Nebraskans could donate money to a scholarship-granting organization and lower their income tax liability a little. Low-income families with children in a public school would have the option to apply for a grant to send their kids to a private school.
The bill was controversial because of its “fiscal note.” In the forecast prepared by the Department of Revenue, the bill would mean $10 million to $15 million in lost income tax revenue in the next four years. The bill was filibustered, and to end the debate a vote of 33 ayes was needed. The vote fell short again, with 29 voting yes, 18 voting no, and two present and not voting.
I was very disappointed to see senators who have their own children enrolled in private schools voting against this bill. It showed their hypocrisy. Another reason this bill failed is because of the wrongheaded philosophy of someone not paying their “fair share” in taxation, even when the money being spent is going to pay for a charitable purpose. This kind of thinking is anti-American. Promoting this sort of class warfare comes right out of the Communist Manifesto. Some of the senators voting against the bill will argue “we can’t afford it,” suggesting the lost income tax revenue will “cost” the Legislature money they would prefer to see spent on something else.
I am amazed by the number of senators and a lot of regular citizens who think they can be generous with other people’s money. For something to cost you money, first the money needs to actually belong to you. The tax revenue the Legislature spends does not belong to the senators — it belongs to the Nebraskans who got out of bed and went out and worked for and earned it.
Government in all its forms doesn’t produce a penny of wealth. It has nothing it did not first take from the citizens by threat of force. There are too many senators who believe allowing some Nebraskans to keep more of what rightfully belongs to them is “costing” the Legislature money. In order to think this way, you have to believe a politician knows how to spend the money you worked for and earned better than you do. That thinking is immoral and it has caused Nebraska to be one of the highest-taxed states in the nation.