Nebraska Politics

Why is Ricketts Duplicating Blood’s Efforts on Military Retirement?

Governor Ricketts seems to like Senator Carol Blood’s work so much he is co-opting it as his own.

Nebraska State Senator Carol Blood represents the Bellevue area. She considers the issues affecting military families to be among her top priorities. She has a great track record on this front, proposing several military family bills that garnered bipartisan support at the Unicameral. And she’s ramping up to do it again this session. A month ago the Omaha World-Herald ran a story describing Senator Blood’s plan to offer income tax relief to military retirees in Nebraska, which Senator Blood believes will draw more retirees here and help support retiree families with low incomes. A few days after the World-Herald piece was published, Blood held a town hall where she also announced her plan. This sounds like one of those issues that most of our legislators would support, doesn’t it?

Senator Blood announcing a plan to help military retirees literally a month before Governor Ricketts is holding a press conference to claim the plan as his own.

But here’s the other thing about Blood. She’s an independent, feisty Democrat woman representing a district, Nebraska’s 3rd, that’s supposed to be a Republican stronghold. And she’s going up for re-election at the end of this session. Any wins in Blood’s pocket, no matter how unobjectionable they are to her opposing party, no matter how well they serve the very people the opposing party claims to serve, might make her popular and effective and re-electable. That would mean that this independent, feisty Democrat woman with a bang-up record serving military families would continue to occupy a seat in the Legislature that Governor Ricketts wants to own.

Perhaps this is why Governor Ricketts is holding a press conference tomorrow to announce a proposal for military retiree income tax relief in Nebraska–the same kind of change Blood has already proposed.

Maybe Ricketts wants something more radical than Blood’s bill. Blood intends to exempt low income retirees from state income tax and to provide a substantial reduction to retirees with more comfortable incomes. Perhaps Ricketts wants something more expensive, such as a 100% exemption for military retirees regardless of income. Even if that were the case, the normal thing to do would be to shape Blood’s bill or offer an amendment.

We reached out to Senator Blood to ask her if this had happened. She said she first heard about Ricketts’s proposal two days ago on Facebook. She said that she spends a lot of time talking to military families and consults with a liaison at the Department of Defense to research and craft sound policy. This bill has been her top concern heading into the new legislative session.

So why is Ricketts co-opting Blood’s bill, duplicating efforts, and wasting resources? Maybe because he’d rather grandstand on military families if it means grabbing at another legislative seat for his collection.