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Letter: Keep NEST 529 program as is

Letter: Keep NEST 529 program as is

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Nebraska Legislature

The State Capitol stands in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, July 1, 2020. Nebraska lawmakers will resume their session on July 20, 2020, after a four-month pause triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. They still have major issues to address, including a property tax package and an upgrade of Nebraska's biggest tax incentive program, but all of that may be overshadowed by the pandemic's impact on tax revenue. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Like many Nebraskans, we opened a NEST 529 savings account when our children were born. We don’t want our children to be burdened with student loans like us.

The NEST 529 savings plan is a wonderful financial tool, compounding gains year in and year out, until we see our children off to college. That is how financial markets are supposed to work. Large returns over years, not days, weeks or months.

However, Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, with the support of State Treasurer John Murante, introduced LB681, which would allow NEST 529 to be used for private elementary and secondary schools.

The bill turns NEST 529 from an investment tool into a crony financial tax-haven for the rich. It would cost our public schools $5.2 million over the next two years. Worse yet, it is the only financial tool in the country where there is no penalty or timeframe in which the money has to sit in the account.

Under the bill $10,000 can be “put into” a 529 account, and that person would receive a $600 dollar tax credit for that year. The very next day they could withdraw their money from the account. NEST 529 would no longer be an investment tool but instead a tool to funnel money away from public schools into private schools.

We should keep NEST 529 the way it is today, an effective long-term financial tool that serves Nebraska families in planning for postsecondary education.

Matthew Harris, Lincoln

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