Ricketts opposes gambling, pension bills in Legislature

March 23, 2021 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts made clear Tuesday that he doesn’t like three bills pending before lawmakers, including a state takeover of Omaha Public Schools’ troubled pension fund and a proposal to allow electronic keno games.

Ricketts criticized the measures in his weekly public column.

One measure would require the state’s Public Employees Retirement Board to take over the management of Omaha Public Schools’ pension fund. The fund faces an $848 million dollar shortfall because of poor investment decisions by its governing board.

Ricketts said the state has already intervened to help with investment strategies, but he argued that making state officials responsible for the fund’s management is a “slippery slope” that could eventually put state government on the hook for the school district’s liabilities.


Ricketts also criticized a bill that would set regulations for the casino industry as part of the 2020 ballot measure to expand gambling in Nebraska. Ricketts, a gambling opponent, said one provision that allows electronic keno wasn’t part of the original ballot measure. Supporters have said the provision is necessary to help local bars that offer paper keno because they’re likely to be hurt by the soon-to-arrive casinos and they help generate tax revenue for cities.

Ricketts also objected to a third bill that would offer unemployment benefits to workers who were denied because of their citizenship status. He said it would undermine existing laws that prohibit state benefits for people in the country illegally.