Ricketts says he is "a real-world conservative with a track record of success in the private sector," and that experience prepares him to be a governor who would "help bring down costs, reduce taxes and grow new economic opportunities in each region of our state." Ricketts is former chief operating officer of Ameritrade.
In order to address prison overpopulation in the state, would you prefer diversion of more lawbreakers into supervised release and community programs or construction of new prisons, and why?
I am not convinced we need to build new prisons. To address overcrowding, we should draw distinctions between those criminals “we’re afraid of” and those “we’re mad at.” For nonviolent offenders, it’s important we invest in effective probation services, drug courts and veterans courts -- systems designed to prevent wayward individuals from becoming habitual offenders and hardened criminals.
Do you support expansion of Medicaid coverage in Nebraska and, if not, do you believe some other form of health care coverage or assistance should be made available to low-income working Nebraskans who cannot afford health care insurance and do not qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, and why?
All Nebraskans deserve access to quality health care. The best way to increase access is to make care more affordable and create jobs. I oppose Medicaid expansion as it expands Obamacare, which has been a disaster for many middle-class Nebraskans. I would rather invest in education, vocational training and infrastructure projects that help create better economic opportunities for more Nebraskans.
How would you address recent concerns and criticism about the delivery of state social services and the performance of the state’s Health and Human Services Department?
HHS is charged with delivering services to our state’s most vulnerable citizens. Reforms are needed to effectively meet that responsibility. I will utilize best business practices to help deliver services at lower costs. My administration would carefully analyze what’s working and what isn’t, bring together the right team to enact reform and establish vigorous oversight and accountability measures.
Do you believe the state budget level is too low, too high, or about right, and which programs, if any, would you attempt to fund at a higher or reduced level?
Governor Heineman has held the line on spending over recent years. However, this year the Legislature appears poised for an increase of at least 6 percent. To spur job creation through meaningful tax reform, we must continue to keep costs and spending low. To help, I believe we can better leverage technology to deliver important state services at lower costs.
Do you believe the state’s level of financial support for higher education is too low, too high or about right, and what initiatives or reforms, if any, would you propose to improve, strengthen or broaden post-high school education?
Our university system and state and community colleges, including private and independent colleges, will be critical to growing Nebraska. Adequate funding levels for world-class initiatives in agriculture and rural development are essential. I would also like to see advancements in career and vocational training partnerships that prepare students for exciting career opportunities in the growing manufacturing and trade industries.