Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen sworn in ahead of inaugural address
LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska has a new governor. Gov. Jim Pillen was sworn in as the state’s 41st governor Thursday afternoon in the legislative chamber.
Immediately afterward, he gave his inaugural address, saying his priorities are about a better and simpler tax code, leveling the playing field for school aid dollars, and solving brain drain.
The pork producer from Columbus continues a long line of Republican leadership in Nebraska. The last Democrat in the governor’s office was Ben Nelson 24 years ago.
While the state legislature is officially nonpartisan, the new governor enters office with 32 Republicans and 17 Democrats in the Unicameral. Those tallies leave the GOP one vote shy of a supermajority, meaning Democrats have the ability to filibuster.
“We would come to Lincoln about once a year, and my brothers and I would always fight to see who would see the state Capitol first as we drove. The building is amazing; it’s incredible,” he said. “But prosperity comes not from here, but private business. We don’t look to the government for rights and freedoms.”
Pillen reminded lawmakers that he wants to treat tax dollars like they’re his own. The state is currently flush with cash — almost $2 billion worth.
Pillen’s oath came at the conclusion of the ceremony that began a bit after 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the capitol’s legislative chamber. Ahead of him, several new state board members and officials were sworn into office:
- Paul Kenney and Kathy Wilmot were sworn in as new members of the Board of Regents
- Sherry Jones, Deborah Neary, Kirk Penner, and Elizabeth Tegtmeier were sworn in as new members of the state Board of Education
- Eric Kamler and Kevin Stocker were sworn in as Public Service Commissioners
- Former State Sen. Mike Hilgers was sworn in as Attorney General of Nebraska
- Former Lt. Gov. Mike Foley was sworn in as Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts
- John Murante was sworn in to begin his new term as State Treasurer
- Bob Evnen was sworn in to begin his new term as Nebraska’s Secretary of State
- Justices Michael Heavican, William Cassel, John Freudenberg, and Jonathan Papik were sworn in as members of the Nebraska Supreme Court
- Joe Kelly was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska
WATCH GOV. PILLEN’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS
Team Pillen announced details for the inaugural ball, set for Saturday night, about a month ago.
RICKETTS SAYS GOOD-BYE
Nebraska’s outgoing governor posted a farewell message on his social media accounts on Wednesday.
Ahead of Thursday’s ceremony, the head of the Nebraska Democratic Party issued a statement:
“New name, same game. Jim Pillen will continue the legacy of the backdoor dealings of anti-choice billionaire Pete Ricketts. Pillen hid from voters during his campaign refusing to host debates and now he’s claiming to be a governor for the people while consistently supporting extreme policies. Hard-working Nebraskans know that Ricketts purchased Pillen’s seat, and to reciprocate, Pillen is handing Ricketts’ a US Senate seat to return the favor.”
In a release from the party’s executive director, Precious McKesson, the state’s Democrats again took issue with several of Pillen’s previously state platform points, including reproductive freedom and education.
“He is just another backward Republican who uses shamefully inflammatory rhetoric to attack Nebraskans’ rights to make choices about their own bodies,” the part said about the former. On the latter: “Pillen is absolutely pushing our schools in the wrong direction.”
The party also pointed out Pillen’s close ties to Ricketts as the incoming governor prepares to make a Senate appointment following Ben Sasse’s resignation.
“Pillen’s successful gubernatorial campaign was bankrolled by former Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is hoping, in return, Pillen will appoint him to replace Ben Sasse in the U.S. Senate. Working Nebraskans lose real representation when corrupt back-room deals win,” the release states.
Nebraska Democrats also expressed concern about the transparency of the incoming administration.
“Pillen also ended the new year bragging about using his phone to get around open meetings and FOIA laws, kicking off his tenure by embracing the anti-democratic sentiment that has come to define the Nebraska GOP,” the release states.
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