Courtesy/Office of Gov. Pete Ricketts — Gov. Ricketts takes Oath of Office with First Lady Susanne Shore looking on. 1-10-19
“It’s a deep honor for me to continue to serve as the 40th Governor of the great State of Nebraska.”
“We’re a great people, and a great people deserves great opportunity.”
“I’m asking for your help in enacting this vision to grow Nebraska.”
LINCOLN – President Foley, Speaker Scheer, Chief Heavican, Members of the Unicameral, distinguished guests, including STRATCOM Commander General Hyten, friends, family, my lovely wife, Susanne, fellow Nebraskans: Happy New Year and congratulations on the commencement of the First Session of the 106th Legislature.
I want to especially congratulate our newly-sworn in elected officials and officers and our new members of the Legislature. I have a deep admiration and respect for our State Senators and the work you do here in the chamber. You sacrifice much to serve the people in your communities. Thank you for your service. I also especially want to highlight and recognize the 13 new members of the Unicameral. Can we give them all a big round of applause, please?
It’s a deep honor for me to continue to serve as the 40th Governor of the great State of Nebraska. And you will often hear me say that Nebraska is what America is supposed to be. That we have the best place in the world to live right here in our state. And the reason we have the best place in the world is because of our people. Nebraskans are involved in their communities, in their schools, and in their churches. We’re kind to one another. We treat each other with dignity and respect.
And in the past, I’ve talked about our heroes who exemplify these characteristics. People like Minnie Freeman, Chief Standing Bear, or Father Flanagan. But these characteristics that we value don’t belong only to the heroes of the past. They’re alive and well today in Nebraska.
I think about Todd Brown, who found a wallet on an airplane, and not only returned it to the rightful owner in South Dakota, but put a little extra spending money in there so the young man could celebrate the return of his wallet. Nebraskans do that.
Or the three neighbors in Omaha who rushed to the scene of an accident and helped rescue the passengers from a burning vehicle at the risk of their own safety. Or Marine Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz, who lost his life in Nepal, providing relief services to residents and rescuing people after the terrible earthquakes.
We’re a great people, and a great people deserves great opportunity. And that’s why we’re all here. All the people in my office, in my agencies, all the people who work here in this chamber, all the people in the judicial branch. We’re all here to serve our fellow Nebraskans and make sure they have those great opportunities.
The vision for my administration has been to grow Nebraska and help create those opportunities for our people. And I make my commitment here to you today that we will continue to focus on growing Nebraska for the next four years.
Now our strategy to grow Nebraska has four pillars.
The first pillar is making sure we’re connecting Nebraskans to great paying jobs and that they’ve got the skills to be able to take those jobs.
The second pillar is making sure we’re cutting the regulatory red tape, taking down barriers for job creators, and providing our services at the speed of business.
The third pillar is making sure that we’re good stewards of the taxpayer dollars. That we’re doing a good job of taking care of the people we’re supposed to, but we’re also being respectful to the people who pay the bills. That we’re constraining spending, providing tax relief – especially property tax relief.
And the fourth pillar is that we promote our state. This is why I travel all around the country and around the world, from New York to Seattle, Japan to Europe, telling people that we have got the best place in the world right here. And folks, we’ve been recognized, we’ve been rewarded for that.
We are recognized as being the number one most fiscally stable state in the country. We’re number two for regulatory environment and cost of doing business. We have had the third highest wage growth in Nebraska of any state in the country since 2014. We’ve got the fourth highest workforce participation rate. Forbes says we’re the fifth best state overall for business. We’ve got the sixth lowest unemployment rate. And, for two years in a row now, we have led the nation in the most economic development projects per capita of any state in the country.
And when those companies invest in our state, they’re creating those job opportunities for our Nebraska families, that allow our families to send their kids to school, go on that family vacation, and enjoy the Good Life here in our state. Folks, that’s what it’s all about.
I think about companies like Facebook and their billion-dollar investment in Papillion, creating about a thousand construction jobs now and 200 ongoing jobs when that facility is fully operational. Or Prairie Catalytic in Columbus. They’re creating a biorefinery with their $50 million dollar investment that will turn ethanol into ethyl acetate.
Or Becton Dickinson, who last year announced a $200 million investment in our state on top of the $140 million they just did in creating 300 additional jobs at their facilities.
Or Costco in Fremont. Their new plant there will create 800 jobs in Fremont and the opportunity for 125 farmers to be able to put up poultry barns, to be able to diversify their revenue, build equity in their operation, and allow young people to come back to the family farm.
Or right here in Lincoln, Kawasaki, a $3.6 billion contract to build railcars for the East Coast. Last year at the State of the State, you may remember, we talked about Eric Jones, a line worker at Kawasaki. Because Kawasaki also created their first ever aero structures division, right here in Nebraska, he got the opportunity to go to that division, which made him supervisor, and now has an even better job to take care of his family.
Folks, that’s what we’re supposed to do: Help create those opportunities for people like Eric Jones, so he can take care of his family and enjoy the Good Life here in our state. It’s not going to be easy, but we need to continue to grow Nebraska.
Four years ago, I borrowed the words from a great Nebraska stateswoman, Virginia Smith, who said, “There is no excellence without great labor.”
We’re going to have to work hard and work together. We’re going to have to roll up our sleeves, use a little bit of Nebraska grit. But I’m confident, working together, we can address the priorities of Nebraskans in the next weeks, months, and years.
Next week, I’ll return with my budget that focuses on these priorities. We’re going to have to continue to control spending and address key priorities like property tax relief.
I’m asking for your help in enacting this vision to grow Nebraska.
So once again, I want to say thank you to our State Senators for your service and sacrifice. I want to say best wishes to our newly sworn-in officials. Remember this special day. And on behalf of Susanne and my family: God bless you all and God bless the great State of Nebraska. Thank you.