Gov. Pete Ricketts provides an upbeat assessment of his first legislative session last year as he looks forward to his second session which begins Wednesday.
Ricketts is upbeat indeed about last year’s legislative session in an interview with Nebraska Radio Network.
“2015 was a wonderful success,” according to Ricketts. “We cut the growth of government nearly in half, from 6 ½% in the previous budget to 3 ½% in this budget.”
Ricketts counts as a success his work with the legislature to keep spending down, which allowed the Unicameral to increase the budget for the state property tax relief fund by $120 million to a total of $408 million in the two-year state budget.
Still, Ricketts suffered some defeats in his first legislative session.
The legislature failed to move the governor’s proposal to lower the percentage at which agricultural land is assessed from the current 75% of market value to 65%.
The Unicameral overrode three gubernatorial vetoes to repeal the death penalty, authorize the children of illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses, and raise the gas tax.
“Well, there were certainly areas where the legislature and I disagreed,” Ricketts says. “But, if you look at overall we passed 243 bills that I signed; the vast majority of bills we did agree on.”
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.
Ricketts says he and the legislature will disagree in the future, but says his second session will be different, because he knows lawmakers better, especially the chairs of legislative committees.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]