Gov. Jim Pillen lays out priorities for term: tax cuts, education funding and more

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Jim Pillen was sworn in Thursday as the 41st governor of Nebraska.

He takes over for Gov. Pete Ricketts who served two terms.

Pillen was emotional as he started his inaugural speech, speaking about humble beginnings in Columbus as the son of a tenant farmer and a seamstress, and sharing a story about his family’s yearly trip to the Capital City.

“Growing up, we would make it to Lincoln maybe once a year,” he said. “My brothers and I were always excited to see who could first see that Capitol coming from the northwest.”

Channel 8 sat down with the new governor after the festivities to speak about his plans for his term.

He mentioned tax cuts, creating a more efficient government, building up the workforce and more.

“We have to have broadband access across our state,” he said. “And infrastructure, we have to do a lot of work on four-lane highways. Those are the key things for the 21st century so we can grow Nebraska.”

He also spoke about education funding, something that was a big part of his campaign, calling for changes to the state aid formula to provide a base line of money to every student in the state.

“We need to be practical minded, and we have to not defund education … we have to fund it differently,” Pillen said. “Because education is a key, and that just has to happen.”

Regarding those who didn’t vote for him, Pillen said Nebraskans have a respect for the Office of the Governor, whether they voted for the occupant or not.

“And all I can say is, I’m blessed with energy,” he said. “I’m an optimist, I’m a positive person, and I’m going to work my tail off to make sure that all of us Nebraskans will be proud of what goes on and that we’ll be focused on the things we all can agree on. And there’s plenty of that in Nebraska.”

The new governor said he plans to spend the next several days reaching out to state lawmakers and building relationships face to face.

The Governor’s Office is putting the finishing touches on his first budget proposal and a handful of legislative proposals.

He is also scheduling interviews to fill Nebraska’s soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat.

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