Lincoln non-profit worker Lisa Lee running in primary for open District 29 seat
International Exchange Programmer for the Lincoln Council for International Visitors
I have lived in the Midwest all of my life, the past 10 years in Lincoln. I obtained my Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Iowa and was a professional auditor for an insurance company for 13 years. My husband, Mitch, and I have been married for 28 years. He loves his job as the Director of Internal Audit at Assurity Life Insurance here in Lincoln. We have four adult children and three grandchildren.
I am running for the Nebraska Legislature because I believe as Nebraskans we have more in common than we have differences and I will work with both sides to get things done. Now more than ever we need to put the people first to address the challenges facing our state by focusing on our shared values and objectives.
In the middle of a public health crisis, the government’s response must be informed by public health professionals and characterized by clear and consistent messaging throughout all levels of government. The City of Lincoln and the State of Nebraska are both doing a very good job, in this regard. Although debated, the social distancing measures taken by both the city and state have been effective. Our Governor and Mayor are excellent communicators and have put aside their political differences and collaborated throughout this crisis. However, more could be done to enforce social distancing when violations are observed. On the federal side, the lack of a preparation to address the pandemic has caused some challenges. As we work through these difficulties, my primary recommendation would be to coordinate and increase our testing ability and procurement of needed personal protection equipment. It does not make sense for individual states to compete against each other.
We are in unchartered times with the coronavirus pandemic where human and economic suffering is all around us. However, the State of Nebraska has some of the leading experts in infectious disease at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and our elected leaders are relying on their knowledge and other public health experts to help us minimize the spread of the virus. First and foremost, please follow the public health restrictions and guidelines for minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. The economic collapse and uncertainty we have experienced overnight is extremely challenging as well. However, unlike other economic recessions we entered this situation with a very strong economy therefore I am confident we are positioned to recover better than in past recessions. As Nebraskans we are in this together and together, we will come out on the other side.
Although we are only beginning to understand the ramifications of COVID-19 on our economy, the legislature’s passage of the state’s emergency relief fund of $83.6 million is a positive start. I would immediately reassess the state’s revenue projections in light of the pandemic and leverage money appropriated through the federal COVID-19 relief package to the state’s budget shortfalls. In the meantime, prepare for the worst-case scenario and proactively prioritize potential reductions while protecting essential services and vulnerable populations. Going forward, business incentives are a major legislative tool for economic development and should be realigned to support business recovery. Address and expand broadband connectivity for all Nebraska. And finally, our workforce development policies should include support for individuals to improve their skills or ability to remain in the workforce such as childcare reimbursements, etc.
Prior to the pandemic, Nebraska’s most pressing economic issue was our workforce shortage. For a state losing young people we need to be bold and partner with businesses and educational institutions. Business incentives are a major tool and should be realigned for companies who create internships, apprenticeships and scholarships for students in high school through higher education. Tax credits could be offered to individuals who stay or move here for a needed job, for a period of time.
I care about the people in my district and I can relate to many of my constituents. I grew up in a blue-collar working family. Later as a young professional I faced student loan debt. I married into a blended family raising two step-sons and two of our own. We were a two-parent working family with childcare challenges for a time. We faced ten months of unemployment due to my husband’s job lost from the great-recession and I know the pressure of having kids at home while helping my aging parents.
My work connecting international visitors with our current and former senators has given me unique insight into state government and draw on my ability to bring people together. Combined with my former career as a professional auditor, which required strong analytical skills, I will be effective at devising workable solutions involving budget constraints while balancing shared priority outcomes. My ten years of experience working through difficult cuts to education while serving on a legislative committee in my children’s school district will also help in this regard. Facing criticism while serving on a school boundary due to controversial recommendations has helped prepare me for challenges ahead.
My willingness to work with both sides, my business background and my ability to see the big picture balanced with fiscal responsibility. I am authentic and willing to admit when I am wrong. I am the real deal.
The pandemic is a reminder that we are all connected and globally we have become very interdependent. It also illustrates how government can be effective when they put aside their partisan differences and address issues with the same shared facts and seek agreed upon outcomes.