Ricketts reminisces his tenure as Nebraska’s governor

Wednesday is the last day the sign above the Governor’s office in the State Capitol will say Pete Ricketts.
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 4:12 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Wednesday is the last day the sign above the Governor’s office in the State Capitol will say Pete Ricketts.

“Got to finish getting packed up and ready to turn it over to Jim Pillen,” Gov. Ricketts told 10/11.

But before he packed up his office, Ricketts reminisced on two terms as governor, highlighting his proudest accomplishments. He said the state has improved services for Nebraskans.

“We’ve been able to cut hold times for people paying for food stamps by 80%, reduced the time it takes to issue checks to reimburse families who have medically handicapped or disabled children. from two weeks to two days,” Gov. Ricketts said.

He said his team has navigated unforeseen challenges, from the historic flooding in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic which has killed more than 4,600 Nebraskans, according to John Hopkins University.

Amid the state’s COVID-19 response, Ricketts was criticized for stopping the reporting of statewide COVID-19 Data, but Ricketts considered the state’s response a success.

“We had great people who work together, who just pulled together to support the people in Nebraska,” Gov. Ricketts said. “And of course, Nebraska themselves are very resilient.”

The COVID-19 response wasn’t the only critique the governor faced. Protesters disrupted his use of hundreds of thousands of his own money to pay for the execution of Cary Dean Moore, using drugs made by companies who didn’t support the death penalty.

Legislators have said under his lead, the state failed to take action on prison overcrowding. Ricketts also garnered national attention with a promise to hold a special session to further limit abortion post Roe v. Wade, that never materialized.

A legislative priority Ricketts said he did take action on is property taxes. Specifically, calling out a 2022 law creating up to 30% rebates for property tax dollars that go to schools. He said with the state’s strong economy and record rainy day fund the new administration can take tax relief, and other improvements, further.

“So I hope Governor-elect Pillen, and the legislature pick that up,” said Gov. Ricketts. “And of course, there’s some additional infrastructure things we need to get done, like the Perkins county canal or broadband.”

Ricketts also said he hopes his time serving Nebraska won’t end at midnight on Wednesday, when his term as governor does. He’s hoping incoming Governor Jim Pillen will choose him to fill Senator Ben Sasse’s seat.

“I’ve got an appointment with the new governor coming up next week,” Gov. Ricketts said. “And I will put my record as governor over the last eight years up against anybody else. As far as qualifications to be the next US senator.”