Chuck Hassebrook: By cooperating, we can move Nebraska forward

Chuck Hassebrook: By cooperating, we can move Nebraska forward

May 18, 2014 - Omaha World Herald 

It is time to make our state even better by strengthening our middle class, revitalizing our communities and creating good jobs and genuine opportunity for every Nebraskan in every community.

That is why I am running for governor — to get Nebraskans working together across party lines on common-sense strategies to move our state forward. That is the tradition on which our unicameral Legislature was founded. It is how I got things done as the lone Democrat on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

As governor, I will pursue three critical priorities that can unite most Nebraskans.

>> Build an education system unsurpassed by any in America at preparing every Nebraskan to succeed.

As governor, I will help keep our university and state colleges strong. I will foster partnerships among community colleges, schools, employers and unions to prepare workers by expanding internships and enabling high school students to get started in technical training.

We have good jobs going unfilled due to a lack of trained workers. It is holding back our manufacturers and businesses from growing, and it's denying better jobs to families that need them.

It is also critical to help children who don't get what they need at home and start kindergarten so far behind that the odds are against them succeeding in school. We all have a stake in fixing that by expanding preschool and strengthening early childhood education. A dollar invested in giving kids a hand up through education will save many dollars in prisons, public assistance and other Band-Aids for problems we can prevent.

>> Develop our world-class renewable energy resources. Nebraska ranks second in ethanol production but lags neighboring states in supporting ethanol use. I will shift state vehicles to E-15 and work with the agriculture and ethanol industries to develop local markets for Nebraska ethanol.

We also have the nation's best wind for electric generation but lag far behind neighboring states in wind development. We are sacrificing thousands of good jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue that could provide property tax relief. I will bring Nebraskans together and provide leadership to develop the transmission and incentives to make Nebraska a major exporter of renewable electricity.

>> Make our state one of the best places in America to start a small business. A new generation of small-business and entrepreneurial opportunities is before us. The Internet has enabled Nebraska-based businesses to sell goods and services across our nation and the world.

Technologies developed in university laboratories offer new opportunities for Nebraska manufacturers and new business start-ups, but our entrepreneurs are held back by economic development policies that treat small business as an afterthought. I will make it a priority by supporting small-business lending and technology transfer, increasing small-business tax credits and removing the bias against small businesses in state regulation.

To support these initiatives and critical state services, we need a fair tax system. I will expand state property tax credits — targeted to modest- income home owners and family farmers and ranchers. I'll pay for it by collecting sales taxes on online purchases from out-of-state business. It is a matter of fairness and common sense to close a loophole that puts our own Nebraska businesses at an unfair disadvantage with out-of-state sellers.

I oppose cutting income taxes for the top 1 or 2 percent of earners because it squanders our capacity to invest in our future through education and small-business development, and it inevitably shifts the burden to working families whose pay has not kept up. Forty years ago, the average CEO made 20 times the average worker. Today, CEOs make 275 times their workers. As governor, I will not stand for shifting their taxes to working families on the low end of the widest earnings gap in history.

Nebraska is one of America's best-kept secrets. We enjoy a great quality of life because our ancestors made forward-looking decisions and investments to build a better future for themselves, their children and their neighbors.

We owe it to them to do the same. That is why I am running for governor.

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