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This week, the Legislature discussed LB 529, a bill that outlined how the State of Nebraska will distribute education lottery dollars for the five-year period from 2021-22 through 2025-26. I introduced a similar bill, LB 62, this year because these programs are critical to our students. As LB 529 contained the provisions of LB 62, I am proud to support this legislation. These dollars appropriated through LB 529 are allocated for our students, whether they are in elementary school, high school, college, or even those individuals who are in the workforce who are returning to school for career training.
Included in LB 529 are provisions that remove the sunset date for the Nebraska Opportunity Grant (NOG) program which was due to expire this year. NOG is the only need-based financial aid program for postsecondary students in Nebraska who are Pell-eligible. In 2020, NOG provided aid to nearly 13,000 students across Nebraska to attend the student’s college of choice, such as Southeast Community College, York College, and Concordia University.
LB 529 also establishes the Access College Early (ACE) Cash Fund. ACE helps pay tuition and mandatory fees for qualified, low-income students to enroll in courses from our colleges or universities if a student decides to do dual-enrollment courses or enroll in an institution early. The Community College Gap Assistance program is also extended. These funds offer financial aid to students not eligible for Pell grants who are enrolled in community colleges that could lead to jobs in a high-need field. The Legislature is also providing funds to help cover testing fees for certain students enrolled in AP classes in high school to allow the student to receive college credit.
LB 529 distributes funds for the Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant Fund. This program helps fund after school programs and summer school programs. There are currently four programs located within District 24 that utilize this funding: St. Vincent de Paul Extended Care Program in Seward, the Colt’s Corral in Utica, York Elementary School and York Middle School.
Funds allocated through LB 529 will also go towards behavioral training for the first time for our teachers. These funds will help train our teachers to properly identify and intervene in classroom situations when an issue arises. These funds also establish an employee assistance program for our teachers to allow them to talk to teachers across the state to discuss best strategies on how to respond to certain situations.
The Legislature is also appropriating money to the Excellence in Teaching cash fund, with a majority of those funds earmarked to attract new teachers into the profession, including $1,000 in financial assistance to student teachers who complete their program. The appropriation also continues to provide assistance to established teachers who are seeking further education to allow them to teach more classes. The Career-Readiness and Dual-Credit Education Cash fund helps our educators earn extra college credits in order to allow them to teach dual-credit classes.
As I stated earlier, I am proud to support this bill. This comprehensive bill helps all our students, regardless of where students are in their academic career, in all corners of the state by providing funds to these critical programs. On March 24, LB 529 advanced from General File to Select File and I look forward to helping ensure this bill is enacted into law.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is email@example.com, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Tyler and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.