Gov. Ricketts, sworn in for 2nd term, says ‘Nebraska is what America is supposed to be’

Gov. Ricketts, sworn in for 2nd term, says ‘Nebraska is what America is supposed to be’
World-Herald News Service

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts was sworn in Thursday for his second four-year term and immediately pledged to continue working to bring more high-wage jobs to Nebraska and to control government spending.

“Nebraska is what America is supposed to be,” he said. “We have the best place in the world to live.”

Ricketts, a 54-year-old Republican, is the state’s 40th governor. He is not eligible to run for re-election in four years because of term limits. The GOP has held the governor’s mansion in Nebraska since 1999.

After watching Ricketts’ 10-minute speech, his father, Joe, the founder of online brokerage TD Ameritrade, said his son was doing a “great job.”

“I love hearing him talk about not raising taxes,” said the elder Ricketts, who has founded and funded groups aimed at curbing government spending.

Joe Ricketts, who built the multimillion-dollar Cloisters on the Platte retreat center near Gretna and whose family owns the Chicago Cubs, said he’s maintained his residency in Wyoming — which has no state income tax — because of the “huge, huge” difference in taxes there compared with Nebraska. His son, he said, tells him that he’s working hard to close that gap.

“You don’t punish people just because they’re successful,” Joe Ricketts said. “You shouldn’t punish people for working hard.”

During his speech, the governor emphasized his theme of “grow Nebraska” and said he will provide specifics of his plans in his State of the State address Tuesday. Included will be a plan to reduce high property taxes, a political thorn that has dogged the state for decades.

“I’m asking for your help,” Ricketts said in his speech. The audience included state lawmakers and family members of those being sworn in.

Along with the recently re-elected governor, several other state officeholders took the oath of office Thursday.

They included two new constitutional officers, State Treasurer John Murante and Secretary of State Bob Evnen, both Republicans. Murante replaced Don Stenberg, who was barred by term limits from running for another term. Evnen, a Lincoln attorney who co-chaired the drive to restore the death penalty in Nebraska, replaces John Gale, who retired after serving 16 yearsas secretary of state.

Murante, who gave up his Gretna-area seat in the Nebraska Legislature after winning election, got an extra round of applause from his 1½-year-old daughter, Natalia, who was held by Murante’s wife, Melissa, as they sat in the audience .

Others sworn in Thursday were: Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, Attorney General Doug Peterson, State Auditor Charlie Janssen and Nebraska Supreme Court Justice Stephanie Stacy.

Also sworn in were Public Service Commissioner Tim Schram of Gretna, State Board of Education members Maureen Nickels of Chapman and Robin Stevens of Gothenburg, and University of Nebraska Regents Rob Schafer of Beatrice and Barbara Weitz and Elizabeth O’Connor, both of Omaha.