Earlier this week, State Senators each named one bill as their legislative priority, a tool that enables them to prioritize an issue that may otherwise not be considered by the full legislative body due to time constraints. In addition, Committees each named 1-2 priority bills and Speaker Jim Scheer designated 25 bills as Speaker priorities. See the complete list of priority bills.
We would like to thank Senator Burke Harr for designating LB1108 as his priority bill. It includes, among many other things, changes to the School Readiness Tax Credit Act. (See our previous blogpost on LB1108.) As reflected in our testimony on LB1108, the School Readiness Tax Credit Act aims to address workforce barriers for early childhood providers through a tax credit mechanism.
While much of the original focus of the tax credits was rooted in supporting family child care home providers—an important step given home providers often lack resources that may be available to other providers—First Five Nebraska would ultimately like to see all members of the early childhood workforce benefit from the credits. As Nebraska continues to take incremental steps toward strategic early childhood investments that reduce the achievement gap, the following two adjustments to the School Readiness Tax Credit Act would be helpful in future years:
- Make the credit available to early childhood programs a refundable tax credit. This would allow nonprofit child care centers (such as those owned and operated by churches) to benefit from the tax credit. Currently, the tax credit available to early childhood programs only helps those providers running a for-profit venture.
- Eliminate the exclusion for staff members employed by school districts. The second of the two tax credits available in the School Readiness Tax Credit Act is intended for individual members of the early childhood workforce (as opposed to the first tax credit, which is geared to early childhood programs). Eliminating this exclusion would incentivize early childhood professionals—no matter what setting they practiced in—to offer the level of quality found to reduce the achievement gap.
First Five Nebraska strongly believes children should receive quality early childhood experiences wherever they are, whether it’s in a home-based program or preschool operated by a school district. Both environments can provide the level of quality known to cultivate children’s healthy development and reduce the achievement gap.