Gov. Pete Ricketts expects clashes with the Unicameral at times this session, but anticipates a smoother relationship than last year.
Ricketts and legislators clashed on three high-profile issues in which lawmakers overrode his vetoes, repealing the death penalty, raising the gas tax, and allowing the children of illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses.
Ricketts predicts disagreements will arise this year as well.
“We’re always going to have disagreements between the legislature and the executive branch, and the judicial branch for that matter as well. That’s a good and healthy thing to have that tension,” Ricketts tells reporters during a news conference after the State of the State address. “What we have to focus on though is the bigger picture, what are we doing to help Nebraskans?”
Ricketts says property tax relief remains his top priority this legislative session. He backs a package of proposals which would limit local governmental growth and keep property tax increases in check.
The governor has other priorities this year as well.
He is touting creation of a $150 million Transportation Infrastructure Bank, using money from the cash reserve fund, to speed up road construction projects, which he says would spur economic development. He proposes keeping state government growth within 3% growth and says his administration will work to improve the Department of Correctional Services and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The governor’s agenda seems to be receiving a favorable reception in the Unicameral. One issue again seems sure to spark disagreement as a renewed effort forms in the Unicameral to expand Medicaid.
Ricketts remains opposed, questioning whether the federal government will keep its promise to pay 90% of the cost of expanding Medicaid.
“They can change the rules at any time,” Ricketts insists. “I’m not saying that I know when that will happen, but I can tell you a 90% match rate, that just does not seem sustainable, in the long run.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]