Gov. Pete Ricketts and the Unicameral clashed during this legislative session, though the governor insists he’s pleased with the direction the state is going.
Ricketts isn’t pleased the Unicameral overrode three of his vetoes.
In so doing, the legislature repealed the death penalty, authorized the children of illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses, and raised the gas tax.
Ricketts said he will work to communicate better with legislators.
“I think if there are things we want to always remember is that we always want to make sure we have open lines of communications, which I mentioned in my remarks,” Ricketts told reporters in a post-session news conference. “And that we need to work to make sure we have good communication going back and forth between the legislature and the executive branch.”
Ricketts won’t say poor communication between his office and the Unicameral led to the three overrides.
“No, I just think it’s just something you always have to work on. You can never over-communicate.”
Ricketts cautioned reporters against making too much of the three veto overrides. He pointed out he signed 243 bills, sustained three vetoes, while suffering overrides on three others.
The governor avoided further showdowns with the Unicameral by negotiating with Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln after his veto of LB 89, which increased aid to nearly 6,000 poor Nebraska families and by agreeing to work with Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus on LB 70, a proposed tax on suspected illegal video machines, for the next legislative session.
Ricketts vetoed LB 498 at the request of Speaker Galen Hadley of Kearney.
Ricketts said he planned to talk with legislators over the interim about what the two branches of government might be able to achieve during the next legislative session.
“I think what we can look at is how we can continue to work together with the legislature and making sure we put the plans in place to grow Nebraska,” Ricketts stated. “Again, cutting the growth of government by nearly half is a huge victory for the taxpayers of Nebraska.”
Ricketts said he is pleased the legislature kept state government growth below 4%, though he added he will work next year for deeper tax cuts.
“We do need to make tax relief, meaningful tax relief, an important priority for the next session,” according to Ricketts.
While the legislature increased the amount budgeted to the property tax relief fund by more than $120 million over the two-year period, it failed to bring to the floor for debate another tax priority of the governor: lowering the percentage at which agricultural land is taxed.
“Now, we will continue to work for the people of Nebraska. Our work’s not done. We’ve got more work to do on tax relief,” according to the governor. “There’s more work to do to be able to control the growth of government, but I’m very pleased with the direction things are going.”
Ricketts said he wants to lower both property and income taxes.
Ricketts declined to give a grade to either himself or the Unicameral for the session. When pressed, Ricketts simply repeated that he was pleased with the direction things are going.