Click below to learn more about Krystal’s platform for Nebraska and other issues that she champions.

Additional platform commentary will be added as questionnaires are received and answered by Krystal.

Why you must be registered Republican to vote for me

You must be registered Republican to vote for me in the Primary on May 15, 2018.

Current Nebraska law says Independents cannot vote for candidates in state-level races in primaries. Republican Party bylaw also exists that prevents other party voters from participating in the Republican primary. So if you're Democrat or Libertarian, you must re-register too to vote for me in the Republican primary.

And, yes, I agree, all this party changing is ridiculous especially for Independents, and I will work to change it when I'm elected. But this is part of why current elected officials have a stranglehold on our politics and run our economy with their family money. (And just so you know, a different law prevents Independent candidates from effectively running for governor too.)

So, remember voting in the Republican Primary on May 15 is strategy to challenge the status quo and the Establishment directly. Us versus Pete. And it's the only legitimate way to prevent Ricketts from moving to the General Election and for sure being elected again.

And why am I not running Democrat, you may also be asking? Because I do consider myself a conservative, but my platform was too liberal for the Democrat Party of Nebraska. They wanted me to change my platform to abide by the NDP and not follow what the People of Nebraska are asking for from a gubernatorial candidate.

Know that I refused that offer because I refuse to sell out. I'm working for real Nebraskans and have a strong platform that surpasses what the Republicans and Democrats are offering anyone. Changing your voter registration to participate in this next Republican Primary election will make us make the history books.

Change to Republican to vote in the May 15, 2018 primary and then change back the very same day to your preferred affiliation. Party doesn't matter to me in the end. It's you that matters to me. Peace and love, Krystal

Update your party affiliation to Republican at the Voter Registration Portal.

Official announcement of candidacy

Krystal Gabel is officially on the ballot for Nebraska Governor. She will challenge Gov. Pete Ricketts for the Republican bid in the May 15, 2018 Primary.

Gabel’s platform as Nebraska’s next Governor is to:

  • Serve, protect, and respect the rights and freedoms of all Nebraskans.
  • Build a workforce within Nebraska by Nebraskans.
  • Lower taxes for families, small businesses, farmers, and ranchers.
  • Invest in green, renewable energy sources and protect our national resources.
  • Fully decriminalize cannabis for adults, revisit laws that penalize and criminalize those who possess cannabis, and pardon those convicted of non-violent cannabis crimes.
  • Generate billions in property, sales, and income taxes via industrial hemp production, including becoming the country’s primary manufacturer of hemp bioethanol and biodiesel.
  • Introduce a robust, easy-to-access medical cannabis program.
  • Fund education, reform prisons, and introduce rehabilitation programs.
  • Improve transparency in the Governor’s office and evaluate CPS and DHHS.

In 2016, Gabel (Independent) advanced to the General Election for Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD), a race that spans three counties in the Omaha Metro area. She received approximately 86,000 votes and missed election by 1% of the vote.

Most recently in the April 2017 Omaha City Primary, Gabel (Independent) ran against the incumbent and six other candidates for the District 2 City Council seat. She missed moving to the General Election by 143 votes.

Gabel has a B.A. in Writing from Briar Cliff University (Sioux City, Iowa), volunteers her time petitioning for Legal Marijuana Now Nebraska, and is building a free-food community garden in South Omaha. She is a freelance writer/editor and was previously employed as a technical writer at ACI Worldwide, Inc., in Elkhorn, NE.

The Gabel for Governor campaign office opens on January 1 - March 1, 2018, at 635 South 50th Avenue, Omaha, NE 68106. Office hours are 5-9 p.m.MondayThursday. All Nebraskans are welcome to call and/or visit the office to learn more about the Gabel campaign and voting in the next election.

Events and other campaign information can be found at Or, Google “Gabel for Governor” to view campaign information in the My Business panel of the results page.

A proposal to advance Nebraska beyond its current tax dilemma

Cannabis is a stronger economic driver than 90% of all industries that are active in Colorado. Recreational marijuana created 18,005 full time jobs and added $2.4B to the state’s economy in 2016. Every dollar spent in Colorado’s cannabis industry generates between $2.13-$2.40 in economic activity like employee payroll and new construction that are outside of the cannabis industry.

Arizona state fiscal analysts projected in Proposition 205 (2016) that a 15% tax on recreation sales would generate $114M in NEW tax revenue in 2019 and 2020, implying a sales volume of more than $760M in just two years. Additionally, the state of Arizona projected to collect about $200M more a year in cannabis taxes, standard sales taxes, and licensing fees for cannabusinesses.

Another example: Nevada is expecting 41,000 more jobs and a $7.5B increase in total economic output in the first seven years just because the state legalized recreational cannabis and industrial hemp farming and manufacturing.

These state projections indicate that any money invested in cannabis is money well earned for all industries. It also shows that many Americans, even Nebraskans, want to earn a living and spend money in a state that welcomes the cannabis industry.

Now turn to Nebraska’s economic forecast for 2018 and beyond:

Our state lawmakers are facing a $1B budget shortfall because tax revenues are going to fall below the estimated expenses for the next two years. Reports say this shortfall is mainly because commodity prices and farm incomes have fallen sharply as agricultural property values have increased by nearly 164% in the past decade. Many farmers are making less but are being taxed more. And not surprisingly, this is the case for most workers across Nebraska.

Early in 2017 Gov. Ricketts’ tried to address our failing tax system. Ricketts proposed that the state no longer rely on land sale prices and property values and instead tax property on how much income it could potential produce. The bill fell six votes short and failed, as critics recognized that the tax package ultimately was going to give more than $458M in income tax relief to the wealthiest of Nebraskans and potentially increase taxes for some middle-income earners.

Now in mid-2017, Rickett’s newest tax-relief package includes cutting more than $150M from education and about $34M from disability services and likely more from other social programs since tax revenue was declared another $34M short in June. These essential cuts take place all while our Governor continues to neglect constituents’ demands to provide property tax relief. Beef ranchers are even stressing the negative impact high property taxes are having on the state’s largest industry.

Nebraska has the 5th highest property taxes in the U.S. Despite reports that say our property tax increases were the lowest (3.26%) in more than a decade in 2016, Nebraskans still are paying more for their property taxes and cutting elsewhere in their budget to make ends meet.

In addition to high property taxes, Nebraska’s unfair four bracket income tax system means our middle-class workers pay the same top tax rate as the highest earners. The Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce is especially concerned that everyone earning under $30,000 annually are actually paying the top individual tax rates of all laborers, coming in at 6.84%. Nebraskans who earn $100,000 or more in income pay 7.81% in income taxes.

And more problematic is that more than 90% of all Nebraskan businesses pay income taxes at this individual rate of 6.84%. Our workers and entrepreneurs – farmers and ranchers included – are being demoralized by unfair corporate competition and relentless state and local tax increases. Some of these innovative individuals, nearly 8,000 Nebraska college graduates included, are choosing to build their careers and businesses anywhere but in Nebraska.

We must also consider the 30,000 Nebraskans who are reported as being unemployed in May 2017. These individuals do not contribute at all to our income tax bucket. I also suspect that the real unemployment number in Nebraska to be at least double the reported number, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics does not include those who are underemployed, who are looking for a job but do not collect unemployment, or who have stopped searching for a job altogether.

How does Nebraska make up for a slouching economy?

How does Nebraska keep its youth, working, and retiree populations from moving to states that have more opportunity and better economics?

Any population that leaves Nebraska means less income, sales, and property taxes to operate our state. I can guarantee that Nebraska’s population will be more stagnant in the next 5 years and produce less-than-expected tax revenues if we do not legalize cannabis and industrial hemp.

Modernizing our tax system so it is fairer to Nebraskans is only part of the solution. However, no re-distribution or adjustment to our three-legged tax stool will be enough. Thousands of Nebraskans want to stimulate our economy by adding a fourth leg to our current tax structure – cannabis and industrial hemp.

Five years ago in 2012, the U.S. industrial hemp industry was valued at an estimated $500M in annual retail sales. Popular Mechanics back in 1938 even touted hemp as “the new billion dollar crop”, meaning that more than 25,000 raw and manufactured goods can be produced from the plant (and all parts of the plant can be used).

Nebraska has the ideal climate, soil, and growing season to step in and become the world’s number one producer of hemp biofuel and biodiesel. Many countries like Canada are currently growing hemp for food and textiles, but little market competition exists for hemp as a biofuel. We have the workforce, land space, and financial need to grow and manufacture hemp into a sustainable commodity that not only boosts our state agriculture but also our tourism scene.

Nebraska attracted more than 20 million visitors in 2016. Think of how many tanks of fuel these tourists purchase for their vehicles as they passed through our state? Now imagine that we produce hemp at a fraction of the cost of corn, no longer have to deal with the Keystone XL headache, manufacture it into ethanol or straight biofuel and biodiesel, and sell sell sell it. Everyone will want our biofuel. Why? Because it is sustainable.

71% of Americans want more sustainable fuel options, but no one in the country has been able to do it yet without forcing the consumer to purchase a new vehicle, like a hybrid. Now Nebraska has the solution – our biofuel can go into existing personal vehicles, semi trucks, and farm machinery. More importantly, our hemp-based biofuel will be completely non-toxic.

Nebraska’s newly acquired $1B deficit should be a good enough reason to do more than just look at the lucrative cannabis industries growing all around us.

Cannabusiness is worth billions and will provide more jobs for residents who don’t have work, boost our already existing tourism, provide enough taxes to balance our state budget, divert enough funds to grow our communities and schools, and free up our prisons for violent offenders. Other states have demonstrated that integrating cannabis as a new tax source has the potential make big tax money and boost populations, exactly what we need to return Nebraska to a financially conservative and balanced state.

Industrial hemp is Nebraska's tax solution

I propose introducing industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity in the Nebraska economy.  If Nebraska embraced industrial hemp legalization, the entire state would immediately begin to reap the benefits.

Expanding our economy is how we lower the common Nebraskan’s taxes, address the recently accrued $1B state deficit, and move our state into a sustainable industry that future generations will continue to benefit from as well.

The budget-tax package proposed last week by Gov. Pete Ricketts merely re-shuffles existing resources. Specifically, Ricketts wants to reduce state spending, borrow more from the cash reserve fund, rely more on tax credits for common Nebraskans, and reduce top individual and corporate income taxes.

Farmers, business owners, families, and individuals across Nebraska agree that these moves are not enough to expand our economy and create jobs, save our agriculture, provide real tax solutions for common Nebraskans, or continue to fund the public education in which we promise to our youth.

Between 25-33% of Nebraska farmers want to rotate industrial hemp into their fields as soon as it is legally possible, with at least 90% of farmers supporting industrial hemp farming in our state[1]. It is clearly well known across Nebraska that biotechnology corn and soybeans crops are failing to provide the revenues needed to save our agriculture.

A crop’s value is dependent on yields and market prices. As of 12 Jan 2018, farmers across Nebraska were offered an average of $3.09/bu and $8.65/bu, respectively, for their corn and soybeans. These cash price returns are low enough that, in many cases, they will not cover a farmer’s budget to plant, grow, and harvest next year’s crop.




# of acres harvested in NE, 2017[2]

9.5 million

5.6 million

Spot cash per bushel price, 12 Jan 2018[3]



Average bushels per acre harvested in NE, 2016[4]

173.55 bu/ac

61.3 bu/ac

Average return per acre[5]



Expected average 2018 crop budget per acre[6]



What Nebraska’s economy needs is a new crop commodity. Hemp, a native plant that grows naturally in most of Nebraska’s State Parks and road ditches, is a green, sustainable crop market that will generate billions in revenue for our state.

Forbes says that CBD oil derived from hemp will be a $1B market on its own by 2020[7]. CBD is one of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The demand for CBD is so high because of its anti-inflammatory qualities that can achieve relief for individuals with a range of ailments, from tumor reduction to anxiety relief. The demand for locally grown hemp will only rise as more Nebraskans chose natural, plant-based medicine over opiates and other synthetic pharmaceuticals.

Despite some recognition from lawmakers that Nebraska needs to act to save agriculture[8], a hemp bill written and lobbied for in this spring 2018’s short legislative session did not receive priority. Industrial hemp is again shelved in Nebraska Legislature until at least this coming fall.

Nebraska is stuck between corn and soybeans - two crops that year after year continue to destroy our soil and abuse our water resources, fail to generate enough revenue to support our farmers through the next year, and lack the versatility to expand Nebraska’s economy.

Industrial hemp is appealing to Nebraska farmers for a number of reasons.

Hundreds of seed strains exist, including a Nebraska heritage hemp seed,  that can be individually selected for each soil type that exists across the state. Farmers will be able to harvest their own seeds for next year’s crop. No more buying seed.

Hemp also grows extremely fast in the field – upwards of 2.5 inches a day according to North Dakota State University[9] – and produces various yield types. A super plant, hemp produces more fiber yield per acre than any other crop, including trees and cotton. The canopy created by its own branches retains its moisture, resists drought, and requires a fraction of water compared to corn and soybeans.

Once a hemp crop is fully grown, farmers use custom combine headers and attachments to separately harvest seed and stalk, among other equipment to process the crop for various refinery sales. Implementation upgrades for harvesting hemp is another fast-growing market appealing to Nebraska engineers like Andrew Bish, founder of Hemp Harvest Works, a hemp harvesting engineering facility in Giltner, NE.

Little do many know, our state is already building a behind-the-scenes hemp industry of sorts with Bish, and others like him, offering inventive growing, implementation, and harvesting services to out-of-state hemp and cannabis farmers. Local farmers are missing out on tremendous opportunity.

Industrial hemp isn’t just work for farmers. Harvested hemp produces various yields – seed, bark, stalk, leaves. Each part of the plant has value and can be manufactured into a marketable good. The hemp market will re-introduce mills and refineries across Nebraska that manufacture the products we need most – natural medicine, diesel and ethanol, high-protein food, biodegradable plastics, and construction materials.

For example, after harvest, the hemp stalk is dried and then milled into fiber for construction materials, an alternative to trees and chemically based products. Hemp oil can be hydraulically pressed from the stalk and then refined into ethanol and diesel, an alternative to petroleum. One acre of hemp stalk can produce as much paper as ten acres of trees, with an entire crop taking just four months to grow (instead of 20-80 years)[10]. Or the millions of years it takes for our earth to create petroleum.

With the ever-increasing demand for a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, bioethanol and biodiesel are where the billions in revenue is available for Nebraska. Sourcing a sustainable crop like hemp to produce the cellulose needed for biofuel fermentation will save our world, not just our state.

Upwards of a ton of oil could be hydraulically pressed from every harvested acre of hemp, transported to a local refinery, manufactured more efficiently into ethanol and diesel, and then sold to residents and the 20 million tourists Nebraska hosts every year. Every cent invested in a gallon of biofuel would stay in Nebraska. No more importing oil and costing future generations more than we can possibly imagine.

Nebraska has the ability to build a bustling economy with tens of thousands of new jobs across the state – from new and seasoned farmers who are eager to save our agriculture to individuals in processing mills, product refineries, and retail sales. Residual markets like security, construction, accounting, and technology will experience more revenue as well from a renewed economy.

Industrial hemp is also an opportunity to invite families back to Nebraska, a move that will subsequently benefit our property, income, and sales tax revenues. By introducing a sustainable, green economy, I promise I will work to cut costs for common Nebraskans, from property taxes to energy bills. No more property bonds to pay for education. No more tax cuts for megacorporations and the ultrarich. No more program cuts to child welfare, special education, disability services, or community safety.

Many Nebraskans dream of better jobs and health, a greener agricultural future, and a more positive place for their families and businesses to grow. Nebraska has millions of acres to farm, industrial space for mills and refineries, an eager workforce, and a slacking economy.

Our imagination with what we can create with hemp is our only limit. As your next Governor, I will work to make Nebraska the Hemp Capitol of the World.


Krystal Gabel is a candidate on the May 15, 2018, Republican Primary ballot for Governor. You must be registered Republican to see and vote for her in the Primary Election. You can now register and update your Nebraska voter registration information online:

The Gabel for Governor Campaign office is located at 635 South 50th Ave, Omaha NE 68106. Office hours are Monday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m.

Contact information: or; 402-871-1891

[1] Andrew Bish, Founder, Hemp Harvest Works. Personal conversation on 2 January 2018.

[2] NASS, Agricultural Statistics Board, and USDA Acreage report. 30 June 2017. ISSN:1949-1522.

[3] Does not include organic crop cash prices. USDA.

[4] and

[5] (Average bushel per acre harvested in NE, 2016) x (spot cash bushel price, 12 Jan 2018)

[6] Averages derived from corn budgets 15-38 and soybeans budgets 55-62. A 2018 Nebraska Extension publication available on UNL CropWatch.

[7] Borchardt, Debra. Hemp Cannabis Product Sales projects to hit $1 Billion in 3 years.

[8] Duggan, Joe. Legislative reaction to Rickett’s proposed tax plan: Support mixed with skepticism.

[9] Industrial Hemp Variety Performance in North Dakota 2017. NDSU Langdon Research Extension Center.

[10] 14 October 1916. USDA Bulletin #404: Hemp Hurds as Paper-Making Material.

Nebraskans want their tax dollars invested in education

Nebraskans want their tax dollars invested in public education

Krystal Gabel, candidate for Governor in the May 15 Republican Primary, says that she “doesn’t understand why Pete Ricketts is attacking our public schools. Executive leadership must invest in the front-end costs of running a state and grow its people. Ricketts’ actions just don’t make sense for the future of Nebraska. ”

Gabel’s platform for Nebraska prioritizes public K-12 schools, community colleges, universities, and training programs.

She says, “Public education is the most important social program the state can fund, but Ricketts has repeatedly been cutting school budgets by the tens of millions since he was elected. And 2018 has shown to be no exception. Close to $1B in bonds are now slated to appear on the primary and general ballots across the state to increase property taxes to pay for schools. These bonds are tax liabilities for property owners who already have paid their fair share of taxes and now are being asked to pay more.”

“Strong public education for all Nebraskans should be our goal. Nebraska is 49th in how much the state budgets for our schools. The latest budget cuts to our universities have potentially moved us to 50th in the nation. Nebraskans deserve more, and our state budget should reflect that education is a priority and our youth are our best investments.”

“Ultimately I believe Pete Ricketts is attempting to damage our public schools to such an extent that we must entirely resort to private and charter schools in our state. Purposely weakening our public school system is disrespectful to all Nebraskans and what we have built. I do not support giving state funding to any charter schools or voucher programs.”

Gabel’s platform for education will:

  • Prioritize public education in the state budget.
  • Advocate for taxpayers to find another source of revenue to fund public education.
  • Fully fund all public education opportunities to compete against Brain Drain and the mass movement of Nebraska’s youth to other states.
  • Expand funding to support an entire curriculum, from full special education and fine arts to sports and health education.
  • Empower educators with increased salaries, innovative programs and tools, and freedom in curriculum.
  • Keep public schools safe and accessible for all students, parents, and staff.
  • Promote trade and apprenticeship programs that prepare students for employment immediately after high school graduation.
  • Ensure tuition is affordable at state colleges and universities to attract a diversity of students.
  • Integrate drug rehabilitation and skill programs in our prison systems to prevent recidivism and better integrate individuals into our communities after incarceration.
  • Cut unneeded bureaucracy, end corrupt state interference, and keep education between parents, teachers, and students.

How does the state of Nebraska make public education a priority again?

Krystal Gabel says, “The tax money likely already exists. It’s pretty clear that our current Executive Leadership is spending our money in unknown or unjust ways, to the point that we now own a $1B deficit. Electing a transparent individual whose priorities line up with the common Nebraskan is really the only way to make education - and a balanced budget - a priority again in our state.”

“Of course, we can focus on expanding our economy to create a new form of revenue too,” she says. “Planting industrial hemp in our farm fields will quickly create jobs, save our agriculture, provide real tax solutions for common Nebraskans, and fully fund the public education in which we promise to our youth. With a new commodity like hemp growing in Nebraska, we can actively promise a certain percentage of that revenue goes directly to education, eliminating our need to bond out our property taxes.”

Krystal Gabel is a candidate on the May 15, 2018, Republican Primary ballot for Governor.

You must be registered Republican to see and vote for her in the Primary Election. You can now register and update your Nebraska voter registration information online:

Additional information can be found about Krystal’s campaign to be Nebraska’s next governor at
Contact information: or; 402-871-1891

Nebraska State Education Association recommendation questionnaire

1. Why are you choosing to seek the office of Governor?

I am concerned about the economic and educational priorities of our current Executive Leadership. When Gov Pete Ricketts announced that he was seeking re-election, the Republican Party gave him their bid, and no one else stepped up to represent the Common Nebraskan on the Republican ticket, except for me. Republican and Independent voters deserve another choice on the primary ballot, and I know that I can win against Pete. I have successfully run two prior races in Omaha, coming within votes of being elected. I have what it takes to attract voters to the ballot box to vote for me and against this incumbent. Nebraskans are not only seeking someone new, they are also seeking a transparent leader and government that serves them. I am choosing to seek the office of Governor because I want to serve Nebraskans and not my own special interests.

2. What is the leadership responsibility of the Governor with regard to providing high-quality public education in the state of Nebraska?

The Governor needs to ensure high-quality public education is the top priority in Nebraska’s state budget. I believe Nebraska needs to invest the majority of its public funds in our youth, specifically in PreK-12 public education. Not only does education provide better opportunities for our people, but it also is a front-end investment that builds a stronger workforce, economy, and community in Nebraska’s future.

3. How do you currently make important decisions? Who do you go to for advice? As Governor, who would be the key stakeholders in your decision-making process?

I make important decisions by seeking multiple viewpoints and knowledge from reliable, fact-based sources. I have a background in research, education, writing, and technology. For my Governor’s campaign, I turn to my constituents for insight and direction. My work as a grassroots candidate has brought forth a vast number of experienced and resourceful confidants from across the state who appreciate my transparency and collaboration. Our state’s diversity has also contributed to my nonpartisan approach to building a platform and vision that works for all Nebraskans. As Governor, you, The People of Nebraska, will be my key stakeholders in any decision I make for the state.

4. What is your vision for public education in Nebraska?

My vision is to provide great PreK-12 public education to all our youth in every one of our 245 school districts. Specifically I want to:

  • Prioritize public education in the state budget and fully fund all public education opportunities to compete against Brain Drain to other states.
  • Attract quality educators with increased salaries, supportive working conditions, technologically advanced classrooms, and resources for innovative curriculum.
  • Introduce another source of revenue to fund public education that replaces our current government’s push to fund schools with unconstitutional property tax bonds. 
  • Secure grant funding to continue to lessen the burden of tax payers, including installing sustainable energy solutions like solar or wind turbines to pay for each school district’s energy costs.
  • Expand funding to support an entire curriculum, including the full spectrum of special education, STEM classes, fine arts, sports, civics, and health education.
  • Promote trade and apprenticeship programs that prepare students for employment immediately after high school graduation.
  • Work with students, parents, and staff to ensure that our public schools continue to be safe, accessible places of learning.
  • Cut unneeded bureaucracy, end corrupt state interference, and keep education between parents, teachers, and students.

5. What are your top five priorities for state spending? Why?

  1. PreK-12 and higher public education.
  2. Public roads and bridges that are better designed and constructed in ways that will reduce infrastructure and maintenance costs as well as provide safe, quality roadways for all rural and urban drivers.
  3. Prison reform that focuses on rehabilitation and skill programs to prevent recidivism and better integrate individuals into our communities after incarceration.
  4. Economic development in industrial hemp to expand our economy, create tens of thousands of jobs, and provide billions in tax revenue to fund public education among other social services.
  5. Public assistance to help struggling low-income individuals, families, children, individuals with disabilities, and individuals with mental illness, including head start, school lunch programs, after school programs, energy assistance, WIC, SNAP, unemployment insurance, adult education, Medicaid, and other healthcare options.

Nebraska’s tax dollars should go directly back into programs that give Nebraskans better opportunities. Front-end investments are important when building a strong community. Better public education and roadways will mean fewer back-end costs in repairing our communities. With more focus on prison reform and building an economy within Nebraska by Nebraskans, we will reduce crime and eliminate poverty in our state as well. Public assistance is a priority too because we live in an economy based on money, and sometimes even ends just don’t meet.

6. Nebraska ranks near the bottom of all states in the nation - 49th - in the percent of state revenue supporting public schools. Over the last ten years, state aid to schools has not kept pace with school expenses, leading to property tax increases, program cuts and larger class sizes. Will you support an increase in state aid to schools and efforts to ensure future state aid funding has a more positive effect on property taxes, and is more predictable and consistent? Explain.

Yes, I absolutely support increasing state aid to schools to fund our public education, improve educational opportunities, and reduce our reliance on property tax bonds. It is disrespectful that Nebraska’s Executive Leadership cut funding to public schools by the millions in 2017/18 instead of seeking out other sources of revenue to supplement our educational needs. Even further, most Nebraskans have already paid their fair share of taxes (some of the highest property taxes in the country, in fact), and that tax money is simply being wasted by a obscure, bloated state government that regularly deprioritizes public education.

7. Research shows that for every one dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education there is at least a $7 savings in future societal costs. Would you support funding to ensure every child can participate in a quality, early childhood education program with certified teachers providing instruction? Explain.

Yes, I support providing state funding to ensure every child participates in early education with certified teachers. Research strongly indicates that investing in high-quality early childhood education yields a return that far exceeds most other state investments, including economic development. With more state funding, I know Nebraska public schools can close the learning gap experienced by 25% of our children, specifically those living in poverty or adverse circumstances in both our rural and urban communities. High-quality early education of our children will benefit state government too by saving money on future K-12 education, child welfare, public healthcare, and the criminal justice system.

8. Article VII, Section 1 of the Nebraska Constitution reads, “The Legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools of this state of all persons between the ages of five and twenty-one years.” A proposal to amend this provision to ages 3 to 21 years has been introduced this session. Do you support this change? Explain.

Yes, I support the proposal to amend the Nebraska Constitution to extend free public education to 3 and 4 year old children. Universal access to high-quality preschool programs, not just access for families who can afford early private education, will improve academic results and fix the learning gap that unprepared students face when entering kindergarten. Children who start education later than their peers struggle to catch up academically and are financially impacted later in life as adults.

9. Teacher salaries (after adjusting for inflation) have not changed for the last 30 years. The gap between the salaries of college graduates going to teaching versus those going into non-teaching jobs continues to grow (the gap was $14,782 in 1960 (adjusted for inflation), and grew to $17,000 in 2015). Fifty percent of new hires leave teaching within five years due to poor working conditions and low salaries. Nebraska teachers earn only 81% of what workers holding similar college degrees earn. Nebraska ranks in the bottom one-third in average salaries for teachers - fully $7,000 below the national average and significantly below the adjacent states of Iowa and Wyoming. What would you do to improve teacher compensation to attract and retain a well-qualified teaching staff in Nebraska? Explain.

Nebraska is experiencing Brain Drain in part because our leaders are not focusing on building a workforce from within the state. Teachers, like many other professionals in Nebraska, are seeking work in other states that provide better salaries, benefits, and living opportunities. Research indicates that high teacher turnover and teachers who prematurely leave their positions hurt student learning and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. Like students, teachers are important human capital that we must invest in to ensure they are prepared and willing to pursue long-term careers in a Nebraska classroom.

The best way for the state of Nebraska to retain a well-qualified teaching staff is to increase salaries to at least the national average and build supportive working conditions for teachers, including good school leadership, shared decision-making, accountability systems, and resources necessary for teaching and learning. Nebraskans support our public schools. We just need Executive Leadership who does too.

10. Nebraska state lottery proceeds have been used to fund a tuition reimbursement program for students seeking to become teachers in Nebraska and for current public school teachers seeking advanced degrees and additional certifications. Do you support such a program? Explain.

Yes, I support and would continue allowing 8% of Nebraska lottery proceeds to continue funding the tuition reimbursement program that offers forgivable loans to teachers.

However, I question the transparency of the state’s budget and if lottery proceeds are actually the funding source reimbursing students. Other state legislatures have been found using lottery money to cover the basic education expenses in the state budget rather than providing additional funding to schools. Also I am not convinced that the Nebraska lottery boosts funding to our public schools. Some studies says that education spending tends to slow down after just the first year a state adopts a lottery system, with education spending being less than it would have been by the 8th year if the lottery had not been adopted at all. I suspect that school spending from the Nebraska lottery may have been diverted elsewhere in the 14 years since its implementation.

11. Schools are the lifeblood of a community. How can the state support the efficient use of resources while not negatively impacting rural communities?

Nebraska can affordably and effectively use modern technology and reliable internet access to positively impact all our people, especially those residing in our rural communities. Executive Leadership has an obligation to ensure that even our most rural publics schools are funded enough to be able to provide the same learning resources as any public school in our cities.

Research shows that technology, like a tablet for every student or long-distance education for all ages, improves the teaching and learning experience and gives isolated communities a sense of connection with the rest of the world. Student content could be customized and limitless on a tablet unlike a printed textbook. Improving broadband access in our rural communities expands social and economic opportunities for all Nebraskans. Tablets, better broadband, and other innovative ideas often become financially within reach for many rural communities by employing a grant writing staff.

Nevertheless, I am very much concerned about the rising poverty rates and dwindling social services that plague many of our rural communities in Nebraska. I think it is necessary to implement modern technology in all our public schools because about a third of students do not have access to a computer or the internet at home. Statistically almost half of students enrolled in rural schools live in poverty. A key to workforce success in our economy today is technological literacy, even for individuals who work in rural industries like cattle and agriculture. Ultimately I believe that fair access to modern technology is how we make sure our schools remain the lifeblood of even our smallest communities.

12. Do you support using public funds to provide vouchers or tax credits/deductions to parents who choose to send their children to private schools? Explain.

I support a parent’s right to choose their child’s school, but I do not support using publicly funded vouchers or tax credits to send any child to a private school in Nebraska. I respect that most Nebraskans support public education, have paid their fair share of taxes, and want that money used responsibly for social services that not only benefit their communities but are also constitutionally responsible.

The majority of private schools are run by religious groups. Vouchers force Nebraskans to use their taxes to support religious activities, education, and indoctrination, which runs counter to the First Amendment right to religious liberty. According to our forefathers, religious activities should be supported with voluntary contributions.

Voucher programs also allow private schools to take taxpayer money and deny admission to any student based on criteria like religion, disability, socioeconomic status, academic record, behavior history, and English efficiency. Vouchers do not increase choice for parents because the private school can deny admission to any student. Public tax money should only go to public schools that are open to all Nebraska students and are accountable to the people in that state.

Also, the defunding of education by Governor Pete Ricketts in 2017/18 has already harmed our public schools. Allowing tax money to pay for vouchers that would typically go to public schools undermines our people even more. The loss of a few students at a public school does not reduce fixed costs like salaries, learning resources, and utility and maintenance costs. Losing students without being able to cut overall operating costs will kill our public school system. Nebraska is already raising its property taxes (and has been for years) to pay for basic education needs. Some municipalities in other states are now raising property taxes just to pay for their failing voucher programs. I do not want to create an unnecessary financial obligation for our state to appease the 10% of Nebraska families who can afford to send their children to private schools.

13. Charter schools often receive public funds without the accountability or oversight measures that are required for public schools. Nebraska does not currently have any Charter Schools. Do you believe that Nebraska needs a Charter School law?

No, I would not authorize a Charter School law in Nebraska. Even after 20 years of charter schools popping up across the country, their effectiveness on student learning is still uncertain. The original purpose of charter schools was to promote competition within the education system to obtain better results from students. With only 300,000 students in Nebraska, we lack the student population to support charter schools. Our public school system does not need competition. It needs more state funding.

In 2017, five charter schools were proposed to open in Omaha in school districts where at least one school was rated at the lowest performance level. Pennsylvania reported that only ⅙ of their charter schools are rated as high performing. I fear that charter schools in Nebraska will become investment opportunities for private companies and individuals. Allowing private entities to turn a profit on the backs of students is inconsistent with the mission of Nebraska’s public education system.

14. The State of Nebraska provides an annual amount equal to 2 percent of public school employees’ salaries to sustain the school employees’ retirement systems. This arrangement came as part of a 2013 compromise in which the state agreed to increase its funding from 1 percent to 2 percent in exchange for educators permanently increasing their personal contributions from 8.88 percent to 9.78 percent of pay. Will you support the state continuing its 2 percent contribution as part of the agreement? Why?

Yes, I support the state continuing its 2% contribution as part of the 2013 agreement. Basic investment strategies indicate that adequate contributions, from both employee and employer, are vital to long-term funding of pension and retirement plans. Nebraska needs to ensure it never falls behind in its annual required contribution because restoring an underfunded pension plan is a massive feat we never want our state to face.

15. Nebraska Education employees are covered by the defined benefit pension plan of either the School Employees Retirement System of the Omaha School Employees’ Retirement System. The Omaha plan was founded in 1909, the state plan in 1945. Educators in both plans have taken responsible measures to ensure their plan’s long-term sustainability. Studies by the National Institute on retirement security clearly show that defined benefit plans provide retirement benefits more efficiently - and at a lower cost - than do other kinds of retirement plans. Will you support the existing defined benefit retirement plan for educators?

Yes, I support the existing defined benefit retirement plan for educators as long as Nebraska’s educators are satisfied with how their benefits are computed. I am willing to negotiate if educators find the Retirement System needs adjustments.

16. The funds managed by the Nebraska Investment Council is to be used for the executive benefit of the members and beneficiaries of the School Employees Retirement system and is to be invested in a fiduciary manner that does not further any social agenda. NSEA supports maintaining the integrity of this retirement fund. Would you support or oppose legislation that directs money from the system to fund programs that further a social agenda and that are not part of the overall asset allocation for the retirement funds?

I oppose legislation that directs money from the Retirement System to fund programs that further social agendas and are not part of the overall asset allocation for retirement funds. I think it is important that the Nebraska Investment Council continues to invest available money from the state’s general and reserve funds as well as any other currently unneeded funds into the operating investment pool to maximum fiduciary returns. No state money should ever be used to further a social agenda that is outside the permission of the people of Nebraska.

17. Public school educators do not have the right to strike. In 1969, the Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR) was created to settle compensation disputes and determine Unfair Labor Practices. When an impasse occurs, one of the parties may ask the CIR to establish wages and conditions of employment. Do you support the current concept of the CIR, or do you wish to change this process? If so, how?

Yes, I support the current concept of the CIR, as reformed by LB397 in 2011. Contract resolution, in general, significantly decreases the economic consequences and costs of public worker strikes.

I understand and appreciate that reform from the bill, by adopting a calendar and introducing a resolution officer, has shifted bargaining responsibility back to the local teacher association, provided structure and a timeline, and helped secure early settlements at the local level without the CIR panel. I also appreciate that the negotiation process now includes wage comparability studies that have resulted in faster settlements and saved local municipalities large, unforeseeable costs.

I do question the formula within LB397 that adjusts wages based on a midpoint. Without additional insight into why teacher compensation in Nebraska is $7,000 less than the national average, I do wonder whether the 4% wage window is diminishing compensation.

18. Currently, teachers can be fired/dismissed for cause (79-827). Do you support or oppose the use of due process hearings to protect teaching, education support, and administrative staff from arbitrary dismissal? Explain.

I support the use of due process hearings to protect educators and administrative staff from arbitrary dismissal. Similar to the right to due process that is given to us under the Fourteenth Amendment, I agree that all public school employees are entitled to a hearing where the school district must demonstrate rightful termination while the employee has a chance to argue for continued employment. Due process is a right that Executive Leader should fight to protect for all Nebraska citizens. Good educators should never become a target for arbitrary and irrational administrations and school boards.

19. Nebraska School Districts have the option to spread health insurance risk by participating in the largest risk pool in the state. Currently, more than 70,000 Nebraskans and 246 of the state’s 250 districts participate in this plan. It is managed by the Educators Health Alliance (EHA), and governed by representatives from the Nebraska School Boards Association, Nebraska Council of School Administrators and the Nebraska State Education Association. For 40 years, the plan has provided high quality health insurance, spreading the risk to keep premium rates well below other plans in the State as well as below national averages. Do you support the continuation of this health insurance pool? Explain.

Yes, I support the continuation of the Educators Health Alliance insurance pool to continue to provide high-quality health insurance. Larger risk pools are typically more stable, and as long as the risk pool has more healthy individuals than individuals with greater health care needs, then I believe the EHA will be able to keep rates below the national average.

These answers may be printed and distributed to NSEA’s 28,000 members. Revised by NSEA Board of Directors 1/2018

Medical Cannabis & Healthcare

I will build a robust medical cannabis program to allow fair and safe access to purchase and/or grow medical-strength cannabis for in-state adult patients, child patients with guardian’s permission, and veterans via a medical card. Patients deserve to choose their treatment plan - whether that be prescription drugs or medical cannabis - and they have the right to have access to that treatment close to home.

This program will lightly tax retail marijuana purchases for consumers, but is meant primarily to curb Nebraska taxpayer’s public health costs for Medicare Part D, private insurance, and VA programs.

The Health Affairs Journal says that states that legalized medical marijuana laws saw overall reductions in Medicare program and enrollee spending of $165.2 million per year as of 2013. If medical marijuana was available in all 50 states in 2013, Medicare would have saved roughly $468 million that year, or 0.5% of the program’s total spending.

Specifically, the 17 states that had medical programs available in 2013 saw the following reductions in prescription doses:

  • For SPASTICITY: The average physician in a state without medical marijuana prescribed 2068 doses, but in states with access to medical marijuana this fell by 20% to 1645 doses.
  • For SEIZURES: The average physician in a state without medical marijuana prescribed 9368 doses, but in states with medical marijuana access this fell to 8029 doses.
  • For PAIN: The annual average dose per physician was 31,810 doses in states without medical marijuana, but 28,166 in states with the option.
  • For ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, NAUSEA, PSYCHOSIS, and SLEEP DISORDERS: All were prescribed between 8% and 13% less often in the 17 states that offered medical marijuana access when the analysis was performed.

The British Medical Journal states that in the US, opioid prescriptions for back pain in particular has increased, and opioids are now the most commonly prescribed drug class for pain. Alarmingly these researchers report that opioids do not seem to expedite return to work in injured workers or improve functional outcomes of acute back pain in primary care. For chronic back pain, systematic reviews find scant evidence that opioids are effective.

And even more alarming is that in summer 2017, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services received a $2 million grant from the federal government to respond to our opiate crisis. Despite this renewable grant, current lawmakers and medical practitioners underplay the severity of Nebraskans addicted to prescription opiates. Even the Nebraska insurer's chief medical officer claims that “Nebraska [has] a lesser prescribing rate for these opioids than other states do, so that is part of the reason we don’t have such a problem.” Nevertheless, opioid overdoses killed 54 people in Nebraska in 2015, and the rate of drug overdose deaths increased more than 20 percent over the past decade.

In addition to allowing access to medical cannabis for any medical condition, I will work for better access to health insurance and healthcare for all Nebraska residents whose needs are not currently being met.

I recognize that access to health insurance is difficult to obtain for many Nebraskans, especially those who are unemployed, become unemployed without notice, or do not qualify for Medicaid. So, let's face the facts: Rural communities, including most of Nebraska, have weak job markets that do NOT protect the workforce and have less generous social programs to help those who have less opportunity than others.

The University of Southern Maine indicates that as population density and proximity to cities decrease, rural uninsured rates increase. In the smallest and most remote areas (populations less than 2,500), the uninsured rate is 23%, compared to 19% in cities.

To expand health insurance coverage in Nebraska, lawmakers need to ensure that all companies - even small businesses, farms, and ranches - can affordably provide coverage for all employees and their own family. Small businesses in Nebraska face combined pressures of higher health insurance premiums and smaller operating margins, making it unrealistic for many to provide health insurance for their employees and sometimes even their own families.

In part, access to better insurance starts by growing jobs within the state that create access to better work for rural Nebraskans. Specifically I envision our state with several hemp refineries that will create thousands of jobs in the biomass conversion technology industry. With an improved economy, more jobs will be available with full insurance plans, and we will have a stronger population to support more rural healthcare facilities for citizens of all ages, genders, and treatment needs.

Lawmakers also need to revisit why only one insurer, Medica, is participating in Nebraska's ACA marketplace in 2018. A recent report says that Medica is proposing an average rate increase of 17%, upwards of 50% for some rates. This is all bad news for Nebraskans and means we need to take charge of our own healthcare and health insurance. We CAN take charge by electing in a transparent lawmaker who will work with you to find a solution for your healthcare, not just tell you what your government is giving you and you have to accept it.

(10/18 update) After speaking with tens of thousands constituents across Nebraska this past year, I understand more than ever that we, as a State, need to accept federal money to expand Medicaid. Unlike our current governor, I would readily accept Federal money to improve the lives of the poorest and sickest of our residents. I have seen the poverty across our state - and with our rural residents experiencing the most disadvantages in terms of healthcare access - I know that we need to take whatever support the Feds offer us. At the same time, however, I recognize that we need to balance our social safety nets in Nebraska. I believe we do this by building a strong workforce and economy that offers all workers more.

I want to re-emphasize here the importance of implementing a state-wide industry in industrial hemp and medical cannabis to improve our healthcare and insurance access. As seen in other states like Colorado, more than 18,000 jobs can be created within a state in just a year's time. That equals $2.4 billion in economic output in just one year. These are jobs for everyone. Nebraska as a state can do exactly the same thing - and with those thousands of good jobs will come Day-1 health insurance coverage that covers the needs you need covered. I will protect workers in Nebraska, not the big corporates that take our money elsewhere.

How is this possible? With good jobs built from within by Nebraskans - from the only industry that is proving to be booming right now in the world - comes good benefits, better pay, better lifestyles, and better health. And with a leader willing to work for you, we can get the laws fixed that put you in the ever-expanding coverage gap we are seeing across the state.