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Stinner ready for first legislative session
January 08, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

John Stinner - Nebraska Senator District 48

Since his election to the Nebraska State Legislature last November, John Stinner of Gering has been busy hiring staff, attending orientation, mock sessions and a legislative summit.

“The state has done a good job in orienting the new senators and getting us prepared for the upcoming session,” Stinner said.
State Senators will be facing a number of major challenges with the Jan. 7 start of the legislative session. Prison overcrowding is one of them. So is the state’s involvement in the federal Medicaid program. Property taxes and taxes in general will also be up for debate.

“Our tax equalization formula isn’t working and it needs more than just a tweak,” Stinner said. “It needs a rethink.”
A number of other items are also important to him, including workforce and economic development and the Heartland Expressway.

“As for the Keystone pipeline, we’ll have to see what happens,” he said. “The State Supreme Court still hasn’t ruled on that, to my knowledge. But I’m a proponent of economic development and of jobs and energy independence.”

When it comes to the Medicaid program, Stinner said he wants to see sustainability. Currently, the federal government offers to pay most of the cost in the early years, only to cut back later and shift the costs to the states.

“I want to see if there’s a way for the state to get people covered at some level,” he said. “Then we need to look at how to sustain the program. Right now the state is asking for a 7.6 percent budget increase this year for Medicaid. That’s not a sustainable number. Two or three percent would be better. We want the program to available to people for a long period of time, not just five to seven years, but 20 to 40 years.”

Stinner said he’s going in with an attitude of what’s possible. And he likes the idea of working with incoming Governor Pete Ricketts, who also has a business background.

As President and CEO of Valley Bank and Trust, Stinner said he’s been stepping aside over the past year from day-to-day operations. Obligations as President of the Nebraska Bankers Association kept him on the road about two weeks out of the month.

“I have a really good, strong management team that allows me to do that,” he said. “Before I made a commitment to run for the state senate, I asked all of my board directors about it. They all thought it would be a benefit to the bank.”

He added that today’s technology allows him to stay plugged in and remain active in bank issues.
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