Jim Pillen begins term as governor of Nebraska

Jim Pillen gives his inaugural address as governor at the state capitol on Thursday.
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 11:55 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2023 at 3:42 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska has a new governor. Gov. Jim Pillen was sworn in as the state’s 41st governor Thursday afternoon in the state capitol legislative chamber.

Pillen took the oath of office and then gave his inaugural address which included his goals for this legislative session.

“We expect low taxes, carefully controlled spending, transparency, and accountability,” Gov. Pillen said. “We expect the business of the people to be handled like business. We expect good schools, quality roads, safe neighborhoods, we expect a government that promotes opportunity instead of living it. And we expect the leaders we elect to work together to find solutions to difficult challenges.”

He also spoke about the young talent leaving Nebraska and retaining and attracting those workers will be a priority.

Pillen, who is a farmer by trade, also stepped down from his role serving on the University of Nebraska’s Board of Regents late last year.

Pillen was joined by members of his family as he entered the chamber. The ceremony also included the swearing in of several new and re-elected state board members and officials:

  • Joe Kelly, Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska
  • Mike Hilgers, Attorney General of Nebraska
  • Mike Foley, Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts
  • John Murante, State Treasurer
  • Bob Evnen, Nebraska’s Secretary of State
  • Paul Kenney and Kathy Wilmot, new members of the Board of Regents
  • Sherry Jones, Deborah Neary, Kirk Penner, and Elizabeth Tegtmeier, new members of the State Board of Education
  • Eric Kamler and Kevin Stocker, Public Service Commissioners
  • Justices Michael Heavican, William Cassel, John Freudenberg, and Jonathan Papik, Nebraska Supreme Court


Ricketts posted a farewell message on his social media accounts on Wednesday.

To each and every Nebraskan who has engaged with me over these eight years: Thank you. Whether you tuned into my...

Posted by Governor Pete Ricketts on Wednesday, January 4, 2023


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.”

Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb

In a release from the party’s executive director, Precious McKesson, the state’s Democrats again took issue with several of Pillen’s previously stated 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.

6 News WOWT contributed to this report