December 16, 2011
and hailed by the American Federation for Children, the
state Department of Revenue in Georgia has already
approved $50 million in donations for 2011 pursuant to
the Georgia Scholarship Tax Credit Program.
This program allows individuals and businesses to
receive state income-tax credits for donations to specially established
organizations that provide tuition scholarships so that children in the
state can attend other-than-public elementary and secondary schools. More
than 6,000 scholarships were awarded for this school term.
Individuals in Georgia can receive a credit
against their year’s tax liability for up to $1,000 in scholarship-program
donations. For married couples, the cap is $2,500. For businesses, the
annual maximum is 75 percent of their state income tax liability.
The $50 million represents the maximum allowed for
2011 by the authorizing legislation. It marks the first time the ceiling has
been reached, but the program has only a three-year history. As a testament
to its success and value, Georgia lawmakers this year passed a modest
expansion, which will increase the statewide maximum each year from 2012
through 2018 by the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index.
Georgia’s scholarship tax-credit program is not
unique. Similar policies are in place and working in Florida, Arizona,
Pennsylvania, Indiana and Iowa. A newly enacted program is getting underway
In Iowa, legislation approved on July 29 of this
year increases the cap on available tax credits to $8.75 million for the
2012 tax year, up from $7.5 million. Based on the program’s history, that
increase will make available approximately 1,500 more private-school
More information about these existing programs is
available from websites such as
Legislation proposing to establish a
tax-credit-supported scholarship program in Nebraska exists in the form of
LB 50. It was introduced last January by Omaha Senator Bob Krist.
After a public hearing in February, the bill was not acted upon by the
Legislature’s Revenue Committee, but, importantly, is carrying over to the
2012 legislative session, still under the committee’s jurisdiction.
LB 50 proposes a state income-tax credit for
donations made by individuals and corporations to specially established,
state-certified organizations that would be obligated to distribute almost
all of their annual revenue—a small portion being reserved for operational
costs—as private-school-tuition scholarships. The maximum amount of each
credit would be 65 percent of the taxpayer’s qualifying donations during the
year. LB 50 proposes a ceiling of $10 million in total tax credits for the
In 2009, an independent fiscal analysis of LB 67—a
predecessor of, and similar to LB 50—determined that a savings of $51
million in state expenditures could be realized over a 10-year period, given
certain presumptions about program design and usage.
Parents and patrons associated with Catholic
schools in Nebraska should get behind LB 50 and take action to achieve
Revenue-Committee advancement of the bill to the full Legislature early in
the upcoming session, which starts Jan. 4. If the bill does not receive
favorable action in 2012, its life will be ended and the process will have
to start over with a new bill in 2013.
The Revenue Committee has eight members. They are
Senators Abbie Cornett (chair), Galen Hadley, LeRoy Louden, Dennis Utter,
Pete Pirsch, Paul Schumacher, Deb Fischer and Greg Adams. An affirmative
vote from five of the eight will be necessary for the bill to advance.
Each of these senators can be contacted by e-mail
using their first-name initial and last name @leg.ne.gov (example:
by links found at the Legislature’s website:
More information about LB 50 is available by
visiting the Nebraska Catholic Conference’s website:
or by contacting Jeremy Murphy, the Conference’s Associate Director for
Education Issues and executive secretary of the Nebraska Federation of
Catholic School Parents:
The University of Nebraska Board of Regents did
not vote on the proposal to extend spousal-based employment benefits to the
cohabiting partners (irrespective of gender) of unmarried employees at its
meeting Dec. 8. The matter was postponed until a later meeting, most likely
that scheduled to take place Jan. 27.
There is still time for constituents to contact the members of the Board
of Regents regarding this proposal, which would treat cohabiting partners
the same as spouses, thus manipulating and undermining marriage. One of the
points that can be made is that the proposal is constitutionally suspect
under Article I, Sec. 29 of the Nebraska Constitution, which prohibits any
state recognition of the uniting of two persons of the same gender in a
domestic partnerships or "similar same-sex relationship."
You can contact Jim at the
Nebraska Catholic Conference, 215 Centennial
Suite 310, Lincoln, NE 68508;