Gov. Pete Ricketts prepares for a second term with a new legislature coming to the Capitol and Medicaid expansion approved by the voters.
Ricketts says he observed some of the growing urban-rural split nationally during the campaign across Nebraska and says some of the split in the Unicameral breaks along urban-rural lines more than party lines.
“But, I think some of the big challenges just gets back to what are your constituents seeing? Again, if you think about what has happened to ag land valuations over 10 years, rural Nebraskans have seen that. But, in Lincoln and Omaha, they really haven’t seen that. So, they have different perspectives about what some of the key issues are and that’s where we have got to work together to find the common ground,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network during a post-election interview.
Ricketts says many of the splits among legislators in the Unicameral break along urban-rural lines more than along party lines.
State lawmakers have resisted expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act even since the ACA became law. Former Gov. Dave Heineman opposed expansion. So did Ricketts.
Voters, though, approved it, giving Initiative 427 53% of the vote Tuesday.
Ricketts says expansion will have to fit within a strained budget, because he won’t raise taxes.
“I’m not going to raise taxes and so this has to fit in the budget and it’s going to be tens of millions of dollars, growing to one hundred million dollars in the not too distance future,” Ricketts says. “And that means that everything else, all those other priorities in our budget, there’s going to be less money for. That means K-through-12 education, higher education, property tax relief, even potentially roads.”
A different Unicameral will convene in early January for the new legislative session; the long, 90-day session in which legislators adopt the two-year state budget. It could be a legislature less friendly to Ricketts and his agenda.
Ricketts understands he might face more opposition in the legislature come January, but he still looks forward to the new legislative session.
“I am looking forward to it. I have the best job in the world. I love being governor of Nebraska,” Ricketts says. “We have a lot of challenges in front of us, but we also have the best people in the world right here in our state.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]