Dean: Build buddget from the ground up

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Stormy Dean believes the state's financial problems can be addressed through zero-based budgeting.

A group of 12 area residents met with Dean today at Country Kitchen as part of his "Stormin' with Stormy" Tour of Southern Nebraska. Dean outlined his plan to bring Nebraska government spending back in line with the economy.

His first priority, he said is to prioritize spending by talking with individual agencies to ensure they are performing the jobs they were set up to do.

Dean also said he would like to see each agency build its budget from the bottom up and make them responsible for their spending through efficiency managing -- a way to see how agency performance compares with set goals and targets. "We've got to figure out what's going on," Dean said in regards to the upcoming special Legislative Session.

"This is the third bite of the apple. It's my opinion that right now we're at the point where the easy stuff has been done. The next step will be to eliminate programs. If we eliminate programs it will be painful," he said.

While Medicaid, public education and the University of Nebraska are the top three consumers of tax dollars in Nebraska, Dean believes the government must look elsewhere to bring the state out of its economic situation.

For every dollar cut by the state on Medicaid funding, the state will lose $2 in federal funding, Dean told the group, so with $46 million in state cuts, Nebraska would lose close to $100 million in federal money. "The state can't afford that," he said.

"The last cuts we made in the University budget ended up being applied disproportionately to western services," he said.

As for aid to public education, Dean believes schools have taken as much in cuts as possible. If the state makes more cuts the public will have to make up for it in increased property tax levies.

"We're not going to cut our way out of our economic situation," he said. "We're going to have to grow our way out of the problem."

Education and health care are two of Dean's top priorities. "Economic development is tied hand-in-hand with education and health care. If we make dramatic changes in either of the two it will cause a negative impact on small towns whose major industries are schools or hospitals."

Duane Tappe, Director of Educational Service Unit 15, told Dean he admired his courage in placing his name on the ballot.

"Where do you find the inner strength, tenacity, energy and desire to pursue this campaign?" Tappe asked Dean.

Dean said he believed one person could make a difference. "But only if they make a commitment and put their shoulder to the grindstone and participate."

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