Watch now: Tax relief and opposition to mandates spark GOP governor’s debate | Elections
Tax relief centered on property tax cuts and opposition to vaccine and mask mandates were common themes Thursday night as four Republican gubernatorial candidates met at a debate in Lincoln that aired statewide on Nebraska public media.
Senator Brett Lindstrom of Omaha focused on his tax-cutting record of eight years as a state senator and promised to provide “next generation leadership and experience” that could help recruit and retain the workforce Nebraska will need to prosper and grow.
Charles Herbster of Falls City highlighted his experience as a successful agribusinessman and vowed to “repel the excesses of the federal government” if elected governor this year.
Former state senator Theresa Thibodeau of Omaha said she would provide “meaningful property tax relief” and protect Nebraska agriculture by resisting “big business agriculture.”
Elkhorn’s Breland Ridenour said he would support tax reform based on passing a consumption tax that would “let you decide how much you pay and when you pay by making personal buying decisions”.
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Absent from the event was Jim Pillen of Columbus, one of the perceived favorites, who said he would decline debate invitations to free up time for a personal campaign.
Lindstrom took the opportunity to argue that he is the candidate whose “experience building coalitions (in the Legislative Assembly) would allow us to do great things” immediately as governor.
“I am the only proven tax reliever in this race,” he said, pointing to his legislative work to phase out state income taxation of Social Security income, support state income tax rate reductions and local property tax relief.
Herbster, who is generally seen as the frontrunner in poll numbers that appear to be shrinking in the race, said he would take steps to “rebuild the whole tax code” to modernize a state tax system that is essentially built in 1967.
“America is in trouble,” he said. “Our faith is under attack, our families are under attack, our freedoms are under attack.”
Candidates have generally supported the protection of Nebraska’s water resources, including steps to secure the flow of water from the South Platte River into Nebraska from Colorado by exercising the state’s century-old treaty rights. to build a system of canals and reservoirs.
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This project was strongly recommended by Governor Pete Ricketts.
There was some division over the proposed construction of a new lake between Lincoln and Omaha.
Lindstrom said it would “help make Nebraska competitive (and) be a really good investment” in the state’s future.
While supporting proposed improvements to Lake McConaughy near Ogallala, Thibodeau said she would like to “review” the new lake proposal before approving it.
Ridenour said it could “potentially support the lake”.
Vocational training must be part of the proposed prison reform, he said in response to another question.
Herbster agreed, suggesting that the state should “help (inmates) learn a trade and a skill.”
Ridenour said he would push for broadband expansion to serve farmers and ranchers in rural Nebraska and govern as a “constitutionalist.”
The primary election is May 10.
The Herbster ad continued to run a day after the campaign announced it was asking for it to be removed
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