Nebraska swears in Jim Pillen as its 41st governor

Jim Pillen was sworn in Thursday as the 41st governor of Nebraska, joining a slew of Republicans who claimed all of the state’s top executive offices.

Pillen was elected in November, defeating Democratic state Sen. Carol Blood in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat as governor since 1994. Pillen’s toughest race came during the contentious primary in which he had to defeat eight other candidates, including one backed by former President Donald Trump.

One of Pillen’s first acts as governor will be to appoint someone to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Ben Sasse, who is stepping down to become president of the University of Florida. Pillen is widely expected to name his predecessor, former Gov. Pete Ricketts, who endorsed Pillen early in the primary and and financially contributed to his campaign.

Pillen has also vowed to push to change Nebraska’s school funding formula to a per-student basis. Critics say the plan could cost the state’s largest districts — which serve the most disadvantaged populations — up to $270 million. Currently, public schools are mostly funded through equalization aid, which goes heavily to those high-need districts.

Also sworn in Thursday were Lt. Gov. Joe Kelly, Secretary of State Bob Evnen, state Treasurer John Murante, state Attorney General Mike Hilgers and state Auditor Mike Foley — all Republicans.

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