“In what universe is it okay for private funds to go to felons, but not school children?"
LINCOLN, NE – Sen. Bob Krist, candidate for Nebraska Governor, today criticized Gov. Pete Ricketts for his inconsistency in supporting private funding for prison programs and not for mental health services for school children.
According to news reports, during a town-hall meeting Wednesday in Crete, Gov. Ricketts was challenged about his veto of a bill by Sen. Lynne Walz that was designed to address school safety concerns by placing a mental health specialist in every one of the state's 17 educational service units. The program was to be paid for by using private donations to cover the $3.6 million cost of the program.
Ricketts repeated his arguments that state government should "not get in between" private donors and their gift-giving and said the bill was unnecessary, since private citizens can make any donations they wish.
Krist pointed out that in 2016 the Ricketts Administration partnered with Defy Ventures, a three-year, $2.5 million privately funded prison project. Charitable foundations, including support from Ken Stinson, chairman emeritus of Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc., was the catalyst for bringing the program to Nebraska.
“The similarities between Defy Ventures and LB 998, legislation vetoed this year by Pete Ricketts are striking,” Krist said. “If Pete Ricketts is fine with using private dollars to fund a program for convicted felons and prisoners, why wouldn’t he want to use private dollars to help keep our kids safe in our schools,” Krist asked.
“I do not understand the reasoning behind the governor’s flip flop. Frankly it looks like another poor decision by the governor based on politics and not what’s good for our citizens,” Krist said.
“In what universe is it okay for private funds to go to felons, but not school children,” Krist said.
Walz, a former school teacher, and Krist’ choice for his Lt. Governor, said her bill was designed to take action to address the mental health issues that have led to recent school shootings by identifying and addressing mental and behavioral health needs.
LB 998 would have created a three-year, $3.6 million program funded with private donations that would have provided mental and behavioral health services in our schools to help keep our kids safe.
“It was not a veto related to the budget. In fact, the legislation called for private donations to cover the $3.6 million cost of the program for three years. It also would have ended the program in 2022 unless lawmakers acted to extend it. This was a bipartisan effort by a majority of senators led by Sen. Walz to raise private funds for mental health in rural schools, and Gov Ricketts said it was unnecessary,” Krist said.
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