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February 2, 2011


LPS spends $275,000 lobbying lawmakers

by Deena Winter

Wow. That’s a lot of dough.

Once again, the Lincoln school district leads the pack in spending money to lobby state lawmakers, according to a recent story by the Journal Star’s new state capitol reporter, Kevin O’Hanlon (whose recent column about dumb bills I loved, by the way — LJS could use more gritty, bold reporting like that).

This is not the first time this story has been told — Lincoln’s school district has been spending a lot of money on lobbying for some time. It’s just that despite negative publicity about it, they’ve continued undeterred.

Over the past three years, LPS has spent $275,000 on lobbyists — with a staffer who lobbies plus an outside firm. That’s more than Omaha Public Schools — which has 12,000 more students and 25 more schools than Lincoln but only spent $212,000.

And only 16 out of the 253 Nebraska school districts even have lobbyists. Why do the big districts needs lobbyists? To make sure the state aid formula works in their favor, primarily. So they spend Lincolnites’ tax dollars trying to get more tax dollars out of state coffers. Small districts that can’t afford to hire lobbyists are just out of luck.

Superintendent Steve Joel told O’Hanlon it’s critical that the district have lobbyists to (no I am not making this up) help administrators read bills, take positions and line up testimony.

Sen. Bill Avery said schools would be better represented by their own superintendents, rather than paid lobbyists. He added that LPS headquarters is only about 10 minutes away from the capitol. SNAP!

The city, by the way, also spends tax dollars on lobbyists on both the state and national level. The city has hired O’Hara, Lindsay & Associates to lobby state lawmakers since 2006. The county also spent about $53,000 on lobbying last year.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. cedric
    Feb 2 2011

    I would suspect that the administrators spend their time administrating, not reading legalese. If the bills were written an a manner that made sense to average people or the legislators actually made themselves available to explain a bill there would be no need for an intermediary. I don’t like the 275,000 amount, but if thats what those services cost, then that is what they cost.

  2. CJ
    Feb 2 2011

    As an LPS taxpayer, this is like paying a robber with one hand so he can steal what you’ve got in the other hand.

  3. Joe's Bro
    Feb 2 2011

    I agree with Senator Avery’s stance 100% on this issue, as far as it goes. Only it does not far enough. All public entities that take my money, whether it is the city, county, state, NRD, or any other taxing district, or monopolized utilities should not be able to use my taxes or my utility bill to lobby.
    I think we would all be surprised, shocked even on how much money is funneled into lobbying efforts from cities, town, and municipalities.

  4. Roger Yant
    Feb 2 2011

    I agree with you Joe’s Bro, way to go!

  5. Jane H Kinsey
    Feb 4 2011

    Of course, LPS had conned Lincoln for many years, since Schoo was Superintendent. . Olympic swimming pools when they have no real swimming program, fancy theaters when they need space for classrooms, etc. this all because of the Teachers’ Union who elects the School Board Members. They are as powerful as the Firefighters Union. The bulk of our property taxes, 65% go to LPS. When are Lincoln voters going to wake up to our City leaders con jobs?


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