Governor Pete Ricketts isn’t breaking any laws by digging deep into his pockets to pull out big dollars for candidates and causes he supports this election year.
But some of his tactics, we think, help fuel what has become a growing distrust in government. It borders on cronyism.
And while the candidates he is throwing his money behind say they don’t take money from people they can’t say “no” to, it’s become apparent in Nebraska that if you say “no” to the governor there are consequences when your seat is up for election.
Ricketts has said some senators who are running for re-election didn’t receive his endorsement because they failed to reflect their constituents’ wishes on major issues, such as raising the state’s fuel tax, which Ricketts opposed.
But let’s turn the calendar back just one month, when the Governor was in West Point with other state officials touting the $300 million in new highway projects. That list included moving up the US 275 expressway project, now set to begin in 2019.
We agree that providing more funds for our state’s roads and bridges is a good thing.
But, keep in mind, one of the key ingredients in funding for the highway plan the Governor is shouting about now is the gas tax increase he opposed before and after it was passed by the Legislature in 2015. His veto of that measure is part of what legislative candidates who are seeking re-election are being attacked for.
Senator Jerry Johnson of Wahoo is one of those who voted to override that veto, and it is one of the reasons he has fallen out of favor with the Governor, who is endorsing Johnson’s opponent. Yet Johnson said he was siding with most of the constituents he heard from on the gas tax issue.
Isn’t it in the best interest of our legislative body to send people to Lincoln who represent the people who elected them rather than to get there and rubber stamp the governor’s wishes? We think so.