Photo by George Lauby
Photo by George Lauby
Foley listens to supporter Reimy Burbach of North Platte.
Mike Foley would shave tens of millions in state spending if he is elected governor, he said Monday in North Platte, as he moves down the campaign trail.
Foley said Gov. Dave Heineman has been a pretty good governor, but hasn’t been overly cooperative with the State Auditor’s office. In fact, at times Heineman has been outright hostile.
Foley is the state auditor. He is now in a tight race for the Republican nomination for governor with Pete Ricketts, Jon Bruning, Beau McCoy, Bryan Slone and Tom Carlson.
Foley, Ricketts and Bruning are thought to be leading the race. The election is rapidly approaching. It will be held May 13.
As Nebraska state auditor for eight years, Foley’s audits have exposed millions in state government waste, including repeated cases at the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies, such as the state historical society, the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska Department of Labor.
State auditors check the financial records of 100 state agencies a year, Foley said.
Coupled with his six years in the Legislature, Foley said he knows how to trim state spending.
“We took random samples,” he said of the audits, “but everywhere we looked, we found waste and inefficiencies. The state is wasting tens of millions every single year. I can see it. I know where it is.”
Foley has audited state employee health insurance payments and pension funds. His unbiased audits sometimes expose Republicans in the headlights.
And, sometimes they put people in jail, as was the case with Judith Weidner of Scottsbluff, an HHS guardian of 600 people across the state, most of them mentally ill or elderly. Weidner is charged with stealing from them. Her trial is set for June.
“It’s scary,” Foley said of HHS misdealing. “If elected, I’m going to take HHS apart, brick by brick.”
Foley talked with about 30 people over noon hour Monday at Heidi’s Restaurant. In response to questions, he said Nebraska was wise to turn away from “common core” educational standards that swept up most of the nation. Nebraska was one of six states that did not adopt the core standards and testing that goes with it.
He said some states, including Indiana and Texas, are now having second thoughts.
“We are better than that,” he said of the common standards. “We don’t want to dumb down our standards.”
“Nebraska has to be a shining example of good government,” he said. “We need a lean, mean, efficient state government.”
Foley also said he wouldn’t be a patsy to the Environmental Protection Agency if elected. He also said he favors the XL pipeline.
“I find no credible evidence that the pipeline will be a danger to the state’s aquifer,” he said. “If I lived near it, I would be concerned too. But I don’t find any scientific evidence.”
Foley was a staunch anti-abortion advocate through his years in the Legislature, when he represented south Lincoln from 2000-06.
His primary message on the campaign trail is that Nebraska government has to cut spending and lower its tax burden, which is one of the highest in the country.
“I am not intimidated by government,” he said. “And, I won’t become an enemy of the auditor’s office, either.”
Foley said the governor’s race is tight between himself, Ricketts and Bruning. Even thought he's run a low-budget campaign, he believes he is well-positioned to win.
Foley is married to Nebraska native Susan (Seiker) Foley. They have six children.