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The Antelope

Pete Ricketts takes questions straight from Lopers

Pete Ricketts criticized President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. Photo provided by Kylie Schwab / Antelope Staff

Governor Pete Ricketts was on campus for a speaking engagement hosted by Turning Point USA, a conservative action group on campus. Ricketts criticized President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan at the event Tuesday. 

“It’s unfair to the people who were doing the right thing and paying off their student loans, and it’s particularly unfair to those who don’t go to college and pay taxes,” Ricketts said. “Those people aren’t benefiting at all from getting student loan debt. They’re going to be the ones expected to pay the taxes for the people getting it forgiven.”

Greg Brown, exercise science professor and faculty adviser to Turning Point USA, got to know Ricketts last year.

“Last spring and summer, with the questions about the Nebraska proposed health education standards from the State Board of Education, I had spoken out on that,” Brown said. “Governor Ricketts had actually invited me to be on a stage at a couple of places, and I was on his podcast talking about problems I saw with those health education standards.”

Brown working with Ricketts led to Turning Point sending an open invitation to the governor in January for a forum “whenever the governor was in Kearney.” Ricketts was in town for the Nebraska Power Association’s annual conference Tuesday.

The event started off with remarks from Brown, Turning Point representative Corbin Hubbell, Chancellor Doug Kristensen, athletic director Marc Bauer and speaker of the Student Senate Tristan Larson. Kristensen and Bauer presented Ricketts with a lifetime pass to UNK Athletics events.

Roughly 150 were in attendance for the standing room only speaking engagement.

“If I could get this attendance at a town hall that’d be awesome,” Ricketts said. 

The governor spoke on the lessons that he’s learned in politics, such as the power of persistence in government. He referred to working on the state’s high property taxes. The item was of high concern when Ricketts decided to run for Governor in 2013 and passed a property tax bill through the unicameral in 2020.  

Ricketts also spoke on the importance of voting in elections, the managerial components of government and about showing up to political events. Ricketts said politics, “is run by the people who show up.”

Of the hour-long event, Ricketts spoke for 30 minutes, and then opened the floor for questions and answers for the rest of the time. Outside of student loan debt, questions were asked about abortion, hourly wages, the cost of higher education, public prayer in a public education setting, mass shootings and increasing mental health resources.

While Brown wasn’t expecting disruptive protests during the event, there was a police force present alongside members of the governor’s security team. 

A group of students had a silent protest during the event, wearing green armbands to protest against the governor’s stance on environmental issues.

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