Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley visited Fairbury with his friend Al Riskowski, who is running for the Nebraska State Legislature to represent Legislative District 32. Lieutenant Governor Foley and Riskowski discussed a variety of issues during a lunch question and answer session organized in part by the Fairbury Chamber of Commerce.
Foley started the session by addressing issues that the state is currently facing, ranging from tax reform and corrections issues to workforce development. He emphasized that the state budget relies heavily on the agricultural economy, which has been stagnating in recent years. He believes this is a major cause for the budget shortfall the state faces.
“We’ve got some budget issues that we’ve got to deal with,” said Foley. “Farmers did very very well up to about three or four years ago. Three or four years ago, it was a great year: prices were high, yields were high. It was about $7.5 billion. This year, it’s going to come in something like $4 billion. So within a span of a few years, farm income has been cut almost in half. When farmers aren’t making money, it ripples through the economy.”
After presenting the issues, Foley introduced Riskowski, stating that Riskowski has his full support in his run for legislature. Riskowski discussed his background serving in ministry, directing the Nebraska Family Alliance and serving on the board at the People’s City Mission in Lincoln. He emphasized that he is a strong conservative candidate who will continue to fight for the values he holds dear.
After Riskowski’s introduction, people were able to ask questions of the Lieutenant Governor and Riskowski. People raised concerns about property taxes, corrections issues and creating jobs. Lieutenant Governor Foley stated that the state is working to build the workforce through a variety of measures, such as reforming the occupational licensing requirements. This year, Nebraska State Senator Laura Ebke introduced LB299, which aims to ease requirements for occupational licenses in the State of Nebraska.
Riskowski was asked about the ideas he has to grow rural Nebraska. He stated that he hopes to open up opportunities for young people to get involved in agriculture.
“I think just the awareness of living in rural Nebraska, going door to door and talking to people whether its in Hallam or Sprauge about what the needs are and listening to employers like Reinke and others about what their needs are,” said Riskowski. “It’s more of an education process of how to represent that at the State Capitol and how to take that knowledge with me. I’ve got a varied background that I can take with me to the State Capitol to help represent rural America.”
He spoke about his experience in Chappell, Neb. during his time in the ministry, observing a declining rural population.
“There needs to be more initiatives to help kids get started (in agricultural),” Riskowski said. “There are so many kids who don’t have that opportunity, and that’s another thing we need to work on at the State Capitol is how to help kids get involved in agriculture that want to get involved in agriculture, but it’s just so expensive. My heart beat is for rural America and how I can support that any way I can.”