|Carlson throws hat in ring|
|December 05, 2013 Jerry Purvis|
State Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege was in Gering last week to let the public know he’s running for governor in 2014.
Next term in the Legislature will be Carlson’s last under Nebraska term limits. “My seven years in the Legislature have been interesting and satisfying,” he said. “When I look at what it takes to be a good governor, I think I’ve got the capabilities. And I’m the only candidate from the Third District of Nebraska.”
Carlson has been in both the public and private sectors during his career. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and his PhD from the University of Iowa, majoring in physical education with an emphasis on evaluation, measurement and statistics. He’s taught at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Taylor University in Indiana. During those years, he also coached both football and baseball.
After he left a career in education, Carlson and his family moved back home to Holdrege, where he operated his own business as a financial advisor. He retired after 30 years.
“In business, I had people working for me whose livelihood depended on me,” he said. “I needed to make payroll and be concerned about business expenses, so I know what small business is about.”
Carlson ran for the Nebraska Unicameral in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010. His district includes Clay, Franklin, Kearney, Nuckolls, Phelps and Webster Counties. He currently serves as chairman of the Natural Resources Committee and is a member of the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee as well as the Committee on Committees. He also served as chairman of the Ag Committee for four years.
“The governor best serves the state if he can work with the Legislature,” he said. “I have the leadership skills to do that. The governor also needs integrity, common sense and faith.”
Taxation in Nebraska has always been a major area of discussion and property taxes in particular.
“Property taxes are too high because too much of K-12 education is funded through property taxes,” Carlson said. “The three-legged stool is property tax, income tax and sales tax. But right now, it’s not in balance. We’ve got to cut back on the amount we’re depending on in property tax for education. That means we have to shift some responsibility to income and sales taxes.”
He added the best way to do that without raising taxes is to grow the economy and improve the number of private sector jobs. That includes holding back on the growth of government.
“For every government job that we increase, it takes 10 jobs in the private sector to fund it,
Carlson said. “If you start to lose jobs under that situation, you’re in real trouble.”
Part of slowing government growth involves a close examination of every service government provides and deciding whether the expenditures are necessary, even for long-term programs.
On water issues, Carlson said it’s important for the state to be water sustainable, where it isn’t taking more than its supply. From 92 to 94 percent of water pumped from the ground is used for agriculture. “We have to make the adjustments that need to be made,” he said. “Our farmers are great in learning how to get by when they know the water is limited.”
He also said every child in the state deserves the opportunity to earn a quality education. While education needs to be funded, the state needs to look at areas for efficiency.