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Meister vs. Heineman: Vote for candidate who 'responds to your needs'
Erik Dodge
Antelope Staff
Photo by Erik Dodge
Political science professor, Dr. Claude Louishomme, eyes a bust of President Abraham Lincoln. Louishomme teaches a political science course on state and local government and says governors have significant power.

If students want to influence UNK’s budget and state politics voting for the governor on Nov. 2 is a good way to start.

“The governor has considerable influence on the state budget and as such will have some influence on the budget at the University of Nebraska at Kearney,” said political science professor Dr. Peter Longo, who has been in the political science department for 22 years.

Budget proposals are written by the governor and submitted to the legislature for modification and approval. State funding makes up almost a quarter of the Nebraska University budget, which totals roughly $2.1 billion, according to NU director of budget Chris Kabourek.

“When voting students should determine if the governor will respond to their needs,” said Longo, a co-author of a book about the Nebraska Constitution.

The election is between incumbent Republican Dave Heineman and Democrat Mike Meister.  

Once the Legislature passes the budget the governor has the power of line item veto—he can delete any item he chooses.

“The ability of governors such as ours to identify a line or more of a budget and cross it out gives the governor a big advantage over the Legislature and a substantial power over the priorities or our state,” said political science professor Dr. Claude Louishomme.

Vetoing single items is much easier to accomplish than vetoing the entire budget.“Instead of upsetting a whole room full of people, line item veto allows him to upset just a couple people. So it’s much harder for those affected by the line item to potentially mobilize a supermajority to get what they want,” Louishomme said.

A supermajority, 30 of the 49 senators, must vote to overturn a veto.

Governors have a strategic advantage in gaining support for their policy preferences.

“They can talk to the people and mobilize people to support what they want,” he said.

This is in part because of more media attention and voter recognition.

“When the governor has a press conference, most of the media in the state covers it. When a committee chair or even the speaker of the legislature gives a press conference, it doesn’t register with most Nebraskans, even when it’s broadcast,” he said.

Louishomme said his class “State and Local Government” exemplified voters lack of interest or knowledge about other state political figures.

“I’m teaching state and local politics right now and I think out of the 17 students taking that upper division class, only one student knew who the current speaker of the unicameral is and that’s because he is from the same town.”

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