Gov. Pete Ricketts reflects on eight years at the helm of Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The pictures in Gov. Pete Ricketts’ office were being packed away on Tuesday as he prepares to hand over the torch to Gov.-elect Jim Pillen.

Ricketts was elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018, serving the state of Nebraska for the last eight years.

Channel 8 spoke with him about what made his time as governor memorable.

Q: “You’ve come to the end of your time here as governor, so what would you consider to be your greatest achievement?”

A: “Well, one of the things I’m very proud of is how our teammates here at the State of Nebraska have really improved services for Nebraskans. And then, of course, I’m very proud of our teammates and the way they responded to the historic flooding in 2019, the pandemic in 2020, all of that. They’ve just done a really amazing job. And then, finally, just getting the tax relief done. The historic tax relief we’ve passed over the last couple of sessions has really been a great way to return money back to the people of Nebraska and again, help make sure they can live the good life here in our state.”

Q: “What were some of the hardships you went through? You touched on a couple, like COVID and the flooding, so how did you deal with that?”

A: “Well, I think one of the key things when you look at the flooding and you talk about the pandemic or also the civil unrest that we had during the George Floyd murder, everybody just came together to work together as a team to be able to really address some of those really unprecedented circumstances we’ve had here in our state.”

Q: “What was it like leading the state through a pandemic?”

A: “Well, there was no playbook for the pandemic. And that’s again, where you rely on your team. We had great people advising us, whether it was creating additional testing resources through TestNebraska or our contact tracing, where we had hundreds of our teammates that stay at Nebraska volunteer to help our local health departments doing that contact tracing. And then, of course, we had special plans in place for our at-risk groups, like folks in our nursing homes or meat processing plants or our correctional facilities.”

SEE ALSO: Ricketts says replacing state pen should be just a start for Nebraska prison reform

Q: “Going into this upcoming legislative session, what sorts of bills are you hoping are going to be passing?”

A: “I think the opportunity of this legislation will be a couple-fold. One is tax relief. Also, with the strong state of our economy here in Nebraska, we have the opportunity to continue to invest in our future growth. Things like broadband, and making sure that gets to every part of the state. But also the Perkins County Canal, to build that facility to make sure we can protect our water facilities going forward. Those investments will be very key to the growth of our state going forward.”

Q: “Looking back at your whole career as the governor of Nebraska, what are some of the things you think back most fondly on?”

A: “Well, I’ve got to tell you, my favorite thing to do as governor was to travel the state of Nebraska and talk with Nebraskans about what they were doing: their hopes, their dreams, what they were doing for their children. It truly has been a privilege to do it, and I’m just grateful for the opportunity that Nebraskans gave me to be able to serve them.”

SEE ALSO: ‘One step at a time’: Ricketts awaits Pillen’s Senate decision

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