Governor calls session successful on last day of legislature

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - As the 105th legislative session wrapped up, Governor Pete Ricketts said he is proud of what was accomplished.

"This was a successful session. We had an ambitious agenda of things to accomplish and we accomplished many of those," said Governor Ricketts.

According to Governor Ricketts, some of things he looked at as successes include legislation making it easier for skilled workers to get licenses, merging state departments for efficiency, and reforming some entitlement programs. He also said the budget was the biggest win from this session.

"Our farm and ranch families have seen their income go down with commodity prices. They've tighten their belts, they're expecting us to do the same at the state," said Ricketts.

He added, "so alot will depend on where our forecasts come in, and also what sort of trims can we make to the budget that you can get enough votes to actually make that happen."

According to the governor, more cuts may be needed, but others, like Senator Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln, said not everyone's voice was heard this session.

"We have to remember that we are providing services that are important to many people in our state. And we can't just cut for cutting sake," said the senator.

According to Pansing Brooks, cuts to the Department of Corrections and Department of Health and Human Services were equally disappointing.

Senator Pansing Brooks said, " I really feel that making cuts for our budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people is really not the way to go, and I think there were other ways to do it."

"Many senators talked about tax exemptions and different kinds of places we could cut without hurting the most vulnerable in our communities, so that was big disappointment to me," she said.

According to Governor Ricketts, his $56.5 million in vetoes helped but did not guarantee senators they will not be back in October.

"Nobody wants a special session. Everybody would rather deal with this in the regular sessions that we setup. I'll continue to monitor whats going on to our revenues coming in with regards to our forecast," said Governor Ricketts.

He added, "because we got back to 3% reserve that's gonna help guard against having a special session, but it doesn't eliminate the risk that we'll have to be here before January."