Krist at KVNO, Part II: ‘Growing Nebraska From Within’

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October 30th, 2018

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

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One of the topics of our conversation was education, including a discussion of recent budget cuts to the university system as well as ways to keep young people in the state, both during and after college.

Senator Krist described to me how he would re-prioritize education funding as governor and re-balance the three-legged stool of income tax, sales tax, and property tax.

“Your raise in tuition was fought against on the floor of the legislature by several of us,” said Krist. “We honestly believed that those cuts that were made to the university system were not all necessary to balance our budget, particularly when we have seen a lack of priority put on both K-12 and higher education in the last 10 years.”

Senator Krist listed three ways we can stop the ‘Brain Drain,’ the exodus of young people from Nebraska—trade education, tuition debt forgiveness, and installing broadband connectivity throughout the state.

Trade education programs can train young Nebraskans for careers that the state needs, such as welding, plumbing, and electricity.

“I believe that we need to start growing Nebraska within, rather than without,” explained Krist.

Krist also points to tuition and debt forgiveness for medical students who are then relocated to communities throughout Nebraska. In turn, these young professionals are likely to stay and remain invested in that community.

Broadband and connectivity are key to keeping college graduates engaged in national or international business within Nebraska.

“Obviously we need to connect our communities with four lane roads—that helps to get people in and out physically—but working from home is going to require us to develop our broadband.”

Trade education programs, Senator Krist said, will also be benefited by re-prioritization of education funding, and these programs in turn will benefit Nebraska as a whole.

“When you tell a person, particularly in a rural agricultural community—the family farm might not be doing so well right now for a variety of reasons—that they can in just a year or do be making $50,000, $60,000 as a welder or an electrician, or an apprentice to be a welder or an electrician,” said Krist, “that’s a supplemental income that helps that farm community and helps that farm or ranch to survive or move on.”

Overall, whether it is a university, community college, or trade school, education funding needs to be re-prioritized, Krist said.

“The current governor has decided that by making these cuts, he’s balancing a budget, and I would say that we need to invest the money we have taken away in order to keep those folks who are developing those opportunities out there.”

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

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