Does Jim Pillen Know What He Is Doing?

Nebraska is a dismal number forty in the outmigration of young people.

Jim Pillen recently gave two interviews in which he attempted to tell us his “plans” now that he has been elected governor. All of the answers he gave were just vague generalities. It’s alarming to know that he has no idea what he wants to do eighteen months after he began to run for governor. It’s no wonder he refused to debate his opponents.

I will post a series of representative excerpts from his interviews with the Omaha World Herald and Nebraska Examiner.

From the Omaha World Herald.

Pillen on property taxes and spending.

“ Through a few words. One is spending, decreased spending. Another word I use is inspiration, and then some specific policy…And then I think number three, property tax reform, transformational reform is really, really important.

So, I think again, the challenge is to inspire local government and inspire Nebraskans to say to local government, “Let’s focus on what we need to operate, not all the things that are nice.”

Pillen on the school aide formula.

“Well, I think the biggest, most fundamental thing that all of us agree on is our future is our kids. But the other is we never, ever give up on our kids, and most of us agree on that. When Nebraskans find out that the state has a statutory responsibility to provide equalization aid to every student, and when Nebraskans find out the state’s dropped the ball on that and has picked winners and losers and quit on kids — it doesn’t matter where they live, they’re aghast at it.

The 1990, the TEEOSA formula was created to have funding to every student in Nebraska, and to lessen property tax. Fail, fail. Time to blow it up and simplify it.”

On changes to state government.

“I’m a big-time believer in shrinking state government. I think there’s tremendous opportunities to expand on running state government as a business. You know, we start a lot of processes, all with the human spirit of making it better, and a lot of things don’t work that way.”

On what abortion restrictions he would support.

“That one’s really, really simple. We’re gonna save as many babies as we possibly can that are growing in moms’ wombs.”

On appointing the next U.S. Senator.

“I would tell you whatever Gov. Ricketts did to help my campaign has nothing to do with the decision of picking who the next United States senator is.”

On the need for prayer in school.

“The first step is helping inspire to have courageous leadership to start the conversation about it. I found it fascinating that I had a letter from an educator in public schools for 42 years, and his comment was, “Well, Jim, you don’t understand. You don’t understand. My students have prayed before they take tests my entire career. Silently.” So I said, “Wow, so are you thinking that teachers are able to tell our kids’ brains that they can’t make a prayer?” The point is that we’ve been tabooed too publicly. So that is exactly my point, that, gee whiz — and it has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with all of us having the ability to speak to our god when we see, that’s the way — in god we trust. That’s how I see it.”

Pillen gave a similar interview to Nebraska Examiner. The interview covered many of the same topics as the World Herald interview. Pillen’s responses were equally vapid.

“Q: On education funding changes, how far can you push in year one, when finances are good, but in flux, during all of this inflationary pressure? How far do you think you can go? And are you seeing it as a multi-step process?

Pillen: Look, it’s probably a little bit early right now. My plan is to get it fixed.

Q: On affordable housing, we talked about the need for that kind of a push, but anything in this first year, you think, that could help with that?

Pillen: There’s a couple things that are really exciting. We have extraordinary innovation and entrepreneurship in all 93 counties, which means there’s really good jobs out there. We have to locally get folks inspired to be more aggressive with the workforce housing, partnering with the county, partnering with the cities.”

Pillen on property taxes: “And so I think that if we can run government like a business, clean the closets out, make sure we can decrease our taxes and inspire people to do more workforce affordable housing, I think that solves the problem. More government doesn’t.”

It’s pretty clear that Pillen has no idea about what he wants to do. It’s shocking that he is so uninformed.

The 2023 legislative session will focus on property taxes (again), the school aide formula, abortion and guns. It will be a familiar agenda.

My educated guess is that the GOP majority will cut taxes for the rich (again.) They rejected a middle class tax cut in 2022, falsely claiming we couldn’t afford it. Priorities.

Already, the GOP is getting cold feet on an abortion ban. They are backing off from their 2022 bill that contained no exceptions for incest and rape, and banned IVF treatments. There is talk that if a draconian abortion ban is passed, there will be a referendum on the issue. In Kansas in 2022, an abortion ban was rejected 59% to 41% in a referendum.

The GOP and the NRA will try once again to pass a bill that would allow people to conceal/carry guns without any training or a background check. What could possibly go wrong? Law enforcement opposes this bill. Experience in other states shows that states with these kind of permissive laws leads to more crime and more murders.

The inscription over the main entrance of the Capitol says: “The Salvation of the State is Watchfulness in the Citizen.” It’s up to us hold the state senators accountable. Keep those phone calls and emails coming! Don’t let them get away with a big turn to the radical right!



I’m an aspiring historian, defender of democracy and a sports fan.

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Dennis Crawford

I’m an aspiring historian, defender of democracy and a sports fan.