Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts defended his record during a debate at the State Fair in Grand Island as his challenger, Democratic state Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, called for new leadership.
Krist charged Ricketts’ proposed property tax reform bill during the last legislative session would have benefitted the family business, other corporations, and wealthy Nebraskans while giving the average taxpayers very little.
“This governor has proposed a bill at least last year that would have given T.D. Ameritrade and the corporate tax and the highest income earners the largest portion of their taxes back,” Krist contended.
Ricketts defended the bill which never came to a vote in the Unicameral, stating it would have provided $4.5 billion in property tax cuts over a 10-year period, effectively cutting property taxes by 20%.
“As my opponent knows, T.D. Ameritrade is a great company, but my family owns less than 10% of that now,” Ricketts stated, “My dad and I haven’t been involved in the operations of that in years.”
Ricketts blamed legislative opponents for filibustering the bill.
“It would have been significant, and it was something that got stalled in the legislature,” Ricketts said.
As the debate moderator attempted to move to another topic, Krist interrupted.
“It was stalled in the legislature, I think, because there wasn’t enough consensus-building,” Krist said. “There was only a bullying to make sure that the bill came forward.”
Krist contended the governor has failed to listen to others, claiming as an example the state prison system. Krist blamed the governor for two riots which left inmates dead. Ricketts countered that he inherited a corrections department which had been badly underfunded and said his administration has taken steps to correct that. Ricketts defended state Corrections Director Scott Frakes, saying he has made strides in improving prison conditions. Krist has called for Frakes to be fired.
During the portion of the debate in which candidates could ask the other a question, Krist questioned the inaction of Ricketts when Bass Pro Shops of Missouri acquired Cabela’s headquartered in Sidney.
“Why did you stand by and let us lose that jewel, in Cabela’s, and 2,000 jobs?” Krist asked.
Krist implied one of the governor’s campaign donors worked behind-the-scenes to secure the takeover of Cabela’s.
“I didn’t have anything to do with that, because that’s a private sector transaction,” Ricketts replied.
Krist wasn’t satisfied with the answer.
“So, you’re telling the people of Nebraska you had no knowledge as the take-over and the forced sale of Cabela’s that cost this state 2,000 jobs?” Krist asked.
“Yeah, that’s correct senator, I’m not involved in any of that. I not on the board of Cabela’s. I’m not on the board of Bass Pro,” Ricketts said. “I’m not involved in any of that.”
The one-hour debate sponsored by the Omaha World-Herald and KMTV covered several topics.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]
AUDIO: Gubernatorial debate at the State Fair between Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and Democratic state Sen. Bob Krist. [1 hour]