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Attorney, banker square off in Senate race: Stinner focuses on taxes, water
May 01, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

John Stinner

John Stinner Sr., president of Valley Bank and Trust Company, will appear on the May 13 primary ballot for State Senator in District 48.

The current Chairman of the Nebraska Bankers Association wants to succeed John Harms, who will retire from the position this year due to term limits.

Stinner has been involved in the community for the past 26 years, both as a businessman and as a facilitator for other business growth. He’s also been involved in 20 different civic organizations.

“I’m really invested and interested in what happens to our place here,” he said. “What happens at the state level is important because it has a direct impact on all of us.”

Previously, Stinner spent 10 years on the Gering School Board. One of the projects he worked on was getting the science lab into the high school and simplifying the bond issue to build a new Lincoln Elementary School. “We wanted the bond issue vote to simply be for the grade school, not a lot of other items,” he said. “Obviously that worked out.”

Stinner said his strength on the school board came from the business side, which he will also use as a state senator. “As a CPA and a banker, I’ve worked with numbers all my life. That’s the prism I look through.”

One of the major challenges Nebraskans continue to face is the state’s taxation structure. “I want to take on the challenge to take a look at what we can possibly do to become more competitive on the tax side of things,” Stinner said. “That’s really geared toward economics and getting economic development right.”

He added that workforce development is also a priority. Western Nebraska Community College has the ability to work with the labor force to train workers where jobs are available.

“I’ve got tons of customers who are looking for truck drivers, welders and painters,” he said. “There are jobs out there, but you have to want to work, have the necessary skills and pass a drug test.”

As communities starts to build the labor force, tax revenues start to come in and grow as companies expand. However, the expenditures associated with growth need to be held down.

“Expenditures have to be limited according to the amount of revenue we bring in,” Stinner said. “Any excess needs to go toward lowered taxes. Once you lower taxes, you become more competitive and the more business you retain.”

Studies show that Nebraska is 48th in the nation as far as being taxed – and Stinner called that a bad number.

Nebraska property tax, although it’s a local issue, is one of the highest in the country. Stinner said another area of emphasis for him will be to get the schools funding formula right so K-12 education can be funded at the levels they need to compete.

“The water issue is also huge for us out here,” he said. “The legislation that dictates current water policy goes back to river flows in 1997. People involved with both groundwater and surface water are pulling together to come up with ways to conserve water, but it’s an issue that continues to evolve. But changes in our water allocation have a direct impact on our local economy. Water sustainability and water quality is an issue for all Nebraskans, not just an ag situation.”

Stinner said there are only five state senators representing districts west of North Platte. That’s why western Nebraska needs a strong voice in the Legislature to help build coalitions and get things done.

Stinner will face challenger Mike Meister, a Scottsbluff attorney, in the May 13 primary.

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