Squandering state funds


Sarah Lentz, Opinion Editor

When it comes to state money, personal politics don’t apply. Or at least they shouldn’t, but someone failed to tell Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska state prison officials.

Yesterday, Associated Press ran a story showing that prison officials had spent $825 trying to buy pancuronium bromide, the drug used for lethal injections. That’s after Ricketts spent $26,000 ordering the execution drug from a company in India.

Ricketts spent over a quarter of a million dollars on a drug that isn’t even legal to import into the United States. But maybe when you’re the son of the founder of TD Ameritrade and the Chicago Cubs, the value of money doesn’t mean much to you, even if it’s not your own personal funds but coming from the state’s coffers.

Being upset about this issue should not hinge on whether you personally support the death penalty or not.

The fact is that in Nebraska, right now, the death penalty has been banned. So the state prison system spent state money on drugs used in a practice that is illegal in the state of Nebraska. Perhaps they were bolstered by the irresponsible purchasing practices of our governor who spent money on pharmaceuticals that the Food and Drug Administration won’t allow to be imported.

I don’t know about you, but we can think of much better ways to spend that money.

$26,825 really doesn’t necessarily seem like a large sum of money, but it’s the principle that bothers us. You either respect the system or you don’t; that’s how governments work. The unicameral passed a bill repealing the death penalty; a bill that was passed 30-19 after a gubernatorial veto.

The fact that there are petitions to reinstate the death penalty are irrelevant at this point because our state government has acted. The fact that our governor and prison officials won’t follow the law and are squandering state funds while doing so should anger any Nebraskan.