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Gov. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska visited campus on Monday to speak at a lun­cheon hosted by the Omicron Delta Kappa lead­ership hon­orary and the President’s Office. Brooke Conrad | The Col­legian

 

Gov. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska visited campus on Monday to speak at a lun­cheon hosted by the Omicron Delta Kappa lead­ership hon­orary and the President’s Office. In his talk, entitled “Taming the Leviathan: Reducing the Size and Scope of Gov­ernment,” the gov­ernor dis­cussed how he has applied his business expe­rience, which includes serving as the Chief Oper­ating Officer of TD Amer­i­trade, to state gov­er­nance.

 

Q: Nebraska is the only state to have a uni­cameral leg­is­lature. Do you think this is an effective system of gov­ernment?

A: Like any system, it’s got pluses and minuses. On the plus side, I am told we are less polarized than other state houses, and I think that makes it easier for us to work on dif­ferent solu­tions. From my per­spective, one of the chal­lenges a one-house system presents is that I’m the only check and balance in the system. So it puts a lot more pressure on the exec­utive branch when it comes to bad bills that might come out of the body to try and stop those.

Q: I want to talk about the death penalty repeal bill, which you vetoed, which was fol­lowed by a veto override, and then ended up on the ballot last November after you helped get enough votes for a petition. Why is this issue important to you?

A: The death penalty is an important tool to protect public safety, in par­ticular for pro­tecting our law enforcement officers, and I also think about it from the stand­point of our cor­rec­tions officers. We ask our cor­rec­tions officers to go into our prisons, and without that addi­tional sanction of a death penalty, we put our cor­rec­tions officers at risk. And so that’s why I per­sonally think it’s important for pro­tecting the public safety.

Q: In your speech today, you talked about your efforts to run the gov­ernment like a business and that you treat cit­izens like cus­tomers; can you talk more about this approach?

A: I’ll give you an example from our Department of Envi­ron­mental Quality. For our general air con­struction permit, we reduced the time to issue a permit from weeks or months to just a day or two. We’ve also put some of those processes online so we can streamline the process and allow cus­tomers to input the data them­selves. So by focusing on things like that and starting to treat people like cus­tomers, it starts to change that men­tality with regard to how I do my job.

Q: I wanted to talk a little bit about the Key­stone Pipeline — how do you respond to landowners who are con­cerned about it?

A: We have a Public Service Com­mission who is reviewing the pipeline appli­cation, and they will rule this month whether or not that pipeline serves the public interest. I think they will, because it’s important for our country, for energy inde­pen­dence. But it’s also good for Nebraska; it’s going to create a couple thousand jobs while they’re building the pipeline, and it will create some ongoing jobs after­wards, and it will also help the property tax base in those counties it will run through, giving them the ability to build roads and schools and so forth. And frankly, we’ve got 29,000 miles of pipeline already crossing our state, and pipelines are shown to be one of the safest ways we can transport mate­rials like this.

Q: What are some of the most important issues in Nebraska right now, and what do you hope to accom­plish by the end of your term?

A: Our whole vision for the state of Nebraska is to grow. Forbes already ranks us the No.1 state for reg­u­latory envi­ronment, and we know that’s a big deal when com­panies are thinking about expanding or moving to Nebraska. We also have to focus on con­trolling our spending, so that we can deliver tax relief, and we’ve done that. I’ve reduced the growth of gov­ernment by 90 percent; it was growing at 6 percent before I took over as gov­ernor.

Q: Outside of pol­itics, what do you like most about living in Nebraska?

A: The best thing about Nebraska is the people. Nebraskans are just incredibly warm, gen­erous, hos­pitable, friendly people that care about each other.

Q: You also are on the board for the Chicago Cubs. How has the season gone this year?

A: Well, we made it to the playoffs for the third year in a row, and that hasn’t hap­pened in over a century. So while we fell short of getting to the World Series, it was still a very good year, and we’ll look forward to re-tooling the team next year to be com­pet­itive again.