Man testifying at state legislature
Policy Advocacy

Policy Advocacy

Action Alert: Last month to sign petition to bring private school funding to vote

With only 3% of Nebraska’s rural students attending a private school, using public tax dollars to support these private institutions has been a concern among many rural residents since passage of the Opportunity Scholarships Act (OSA) earlier this year. In response, a petition drive to give voters a say on the 2024 ballot is now underway. 

LB 753, or the Opportunity Scholarships Act (OSA), gives private schools preferential treatment by incentivizing donations to scholarship granting organizations above all other charitable causes. Incentives to donate to other causes come in the form of a deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct just over 6% of the donation from their tax liability. In contrast, the dollar-for-dollar credit in LB 753 results in up to a 50% reduction in state income tax liability. 

Such generous treatment comes at a cost to taxpayers. LB 753 allocates $25 million to the program for the first three years. By year four, this amount is set to grow up to 25% annually based on demand, with a cap at $100 million. Other states, such as Arizona, Wisconsin, and Indiana have been forced to raise property taxes to make up for the public education funding cuts from the state due to legislation that began similarly to Nebraska’s, but has since grown exponentially. 

The Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Rapport and recently-released white paper addresses the potential impact of the OSA for rural schools and communities. Concerns include the lack of school choice throughout much of the state (48 of Nebraska’s 93 counties do not have private schools), the preferential tax treatment of donations to SGOs, which are elevated above any other charitable donations, and the less stringent accountability standards private schools have. Dave Welsch, a long time school board member from Milford and a member of the Center for Rural Affairs advisory committee, also stated the OSA was designed in a way to circumvent the Nebraska Constitution, which prohibits public funding for private schools. 

To learn more about the petition drive and find a signing event near you, visit Support Our Schools Nebraska. Signatures must be turned in to the Nebraska Secretary of State no later than Aug. 30.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Policy Associate Carlie Jonas at or 402.687.2100 ext.1032.

State and national policy directly impact how we live. We always need advocates to speak up for rural America.

We work on a variety of issues, from rural development, to clean energy, to conservation and climate. When we work with supporters, we use the same general tools to advocate across our issues. This page outlines some general resources about tools and tactics we have found to be effective.

Are you willing to take action today? There are three ways you can help right now.

  • Make your voice heardCall, email, or write your elected officials. Keep their contact information handy. Legislation can move fast; be ready at a moment’s notice.
  • Step up and take actionWrite a letter to the editor. Speak out in your community. Attend a listening session. Testify at the state capitol. Tell us how you’re ready to step up to build a stronger, brighter rural future.
  • Pitch in to support the effortYour donation today helps ensure we have the resources to share your values with representatives in Lincoln and Des Moines, or maybe at your statehouse.  

Don’t forget to display confidence, enthusiasm, credibility, and commitment. One way to display credibility is telling your representative where you live, so they know you are a constituent in their district.

Sign up for our newsletter and email alerts—We’ll keep you in the loop with action alerts, and steps you can take to advocate for timely policy. If you live in Nebraska, Iowa, or South Dakota, we’ll also send you biweekly legislative updates from our staff working at your state capitol during session. 

How will these actions create change? The people you are reaching out to are lawmakers who need your vote to become elected or stay in office. As your representatives, their job is to shape policy on behalf of your interests.

If you would like to be involved in any of these activities: make phone calls, host meetings, meet with elected officials, write letters, or testify on important legislation, please contact us at

Your advocacy ensures your voice is heard on issues that matter most to you. Remember to always show respect to legislators and their staff members, regardless of where they stand on the issue.

For more information on how to be an advocate: