Krist at KVNO, Part I: Education, Medicaid, and Balancing the Budget

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October 29th, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. — I recently had the opportunity to sit down with State Senator Bob Krist, who is challenging incumbent Pete Ricketts in the Nebraska Governor’s race.

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We spoke first about how, as Governor, Senator Krist would address recent budget cuts to the state university system.

“I don’t think it is magic—it’s not brain surgery—it’s simply re-prioritizing the money we currently have and then when we do move money across, to put that priority back on the funding of education and finding those additional revenue sources that are out there,” Krist says. “It is very clear that what we have done to the University of Nebraska, to our state colleges, and to our community colleges needs to be reversed quickly, before there is any more damage done.”

To address budget deficits, Senator Krist says we need to look at these other sources of revenue, such as industrial hemp and collecting internet sales tax, both of which he has supported in the past.

“Somehow somebody figured out that it [industrial hemp] might look like marijuana, so we have to make it illegal—which is ridiculous,” Krist continues. “It’s legal now and every state should be able to move forward. It’s time to start growing a business from within. We are an incredibly active and productive agricultural state—this is yet another product that we can bring into the system.”

Krist described to me legislation in the unicameral in 2017 that would have allowed Nebraska to collect internet sales tax across the board.

“The governor pushed back on that internet sales tax collection [bill]: he called it a new tax; it’s not,” explains Krist. “The estimate for internet sales tax alone in this state is upwards of $30 to $50 million a year, which is extremely low [estimate] according to our research.

We moved on to a discussion about Medicaid expansion, which will also be on Nebraskans’ ballots next month. Krist says that the savings from keeping the 90,000 people currently uninsured out of the emergency room makes the iniative worthwhile.

“We need to expand and use the programs that are currently available at the 90-10 cost-share, there’s no question,” says Krist. “But there’s also the waiver process, whereby you can do what’s right for the individual citizens in your state. There are 34 states [plus D.C.] that have expanded Medicaid and/or used the waiver process, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

“I think everybody needs to take a deep breath and look at the way we’re doing things right now. The legislature only looks at things in terms of adventures and what they will cost. Right?” Krist explains. “So there’s always a price tag on the front side. But we never look at the cost savings or the investment creating cost savings. That’s not in our fiscal note process.”

Senator Krist says his experience as a legislator, veteran, and business owner makes him the right choice for Nebraskans in November.

“The state of the state is not as good as it needs to be, and most of it comes from lack of investment and lack of prioritization,” says Krist.

KVNO News reached out to Governor Ricketts for his take on the issues but did not receive a response.

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