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On campaign trail Carlson hears property tax complaints

 

Tom Carlson enjoys the campaigning process of traveling throughout the state of Nebraska—except when powerful crosswinds hit his trailer. Still, he will have visited all 93 counties by year’s end.

“When I tell an individual or a group who I am, what I stand for and why I should be governor, I’m getting agreement,” Carlson said. “That’s what’s important.”

There are now five candidates running for governor on the Republican ticket, but Carlson is the only one calling the third Congressional district home.

Carlson believes his residence is important because the state deserves a governor who understands agriculture and rural Nebraska.

Since Carlson has been on the road, the complaint he most often hears is that people are upset with their property taxes. He believes that too much of K-12 education is funded through the property tax. According to Carlson, funding from the property tax is over 50 percent and Nebraskans would be much better off if it were around 40. Unfortunately the drop would put a bigger burden on sales and income taxes, so the decision is not easy.

One clear choice—and one he agrees with—came when the state opted out of Medicaid expansion.

“We had the bill that the federal government was going to provide 100 percent of the dollars to expand Medicaid to up to 54,000 people that weren’t covered,” Carlson said. “I would say they are covered because nobody in Nebraska that goes to a clinic, hospital or emergency room is going to be turned away. They will get treatment, so we have everybody covered. Now, there’s a pretty good argument that says that emergency care is too expensive and we shouldn’t be doing it that way. But, so far, I have seen no indication through Obamacare that we’re going to be able to do that at a reduced rate.”

Medicaid expansion was supposed to alleviate some of these issues. However, the stipulation was that the federal government would provide for the costs throughout the first three years, and the fourth year would require state governments to account for 10 percent from then on.

Carlson believes it was a smart choice not to commit to something now that we will have to pay for in four years when the amount is uncertain and the percentage could increase. Basing the fourth year off of today’s figures would not be accurate because the economy could be in completely different shape when the time came to make the payments. Carlson did not believe it was a smart way to make a financial decision.

“In state government, we can only do what we can afford,” Carlson explained. “If you decided it was time to buy a new house, so you shop and you look and you take your time and you find the house that you want to buy. So you go to the realtor and say, ‘What’s this house cost? I’d like to buy it.’ The realtor would say, ‘I don’t know because we don’t do it that way anymore. But, I have a contract here and if you sign it, you can move into that house and not make any payments for three years. At the end of three years, we’ll decide what your house is worth and set your payment. But when we do that, it’ll be for life and there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to go up every year.’ If that’s the offer, would you buy a house that way?”

Carlson thinks that sometimes the rural regions take safety for granted, so he makes a point to stop and talk to the sheriffs, state patrol and municipal police to show an appreciation for all that they do.

Still, he returns to larger issues, insisting that Nebraska needs a healthy economy with increasing private sector jobs.

“It’s the private sector jobs that pay the taxes that provide the revenue so the government can provide the services it needs to provide,” Carlson said. “It takes 10 private sector jobs to fund one government job, so we have to be very careful about expanding government.”

 

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