Thirty-seven governors are beginning new terms and taking the oath of office in December or January. Following are excerpts from their inaugural addresses. (Click on the name of the governor to see the full text of the address.)
Gov. Butch Otter (R)
Jan. 7, 2011
As I stand before you today, my thoughts are with the 70,000 Idahoans who are out of work -- many through no fault of their own.
My message to them is that those of us in state government are more committed than ever to addressing the root of our economic woes by tapping into the enterprising spirit of our communities, our families, and individual men and women to create new opportunities.
We also must continue to reflect in our state budget the way in which we all have handled the financial circumstances of our personal lives.
The key is using common sense to restructure government in ways that foster collaborative partnerships, produce efficiencies and make better use of our tax dollars -- now and in the future.
As President Reagan said in his second inaugural address, "We must act now to protect future generations from government's desire to spend its citizens' money and tax them into servitude when the bills come due."
Unfortunately, our national government has continued to grow dramatically in size and scope -- disproportionately to our population growth and far beyond its intended role.
The sense of personal responsibility and public accountability that guided and inspired generations of Americans from our founding has been dangerously diminished over time.
Gov. Deval Patrick (D)
Jan. 6, 2011
Four years ago, hope was in short supply. Young people and jobs were leaving our state. Roads and bridges were crumbling. Health care reform had passed, but had not yet been implemented. Stem cell research was restricted. Our clean energy potential was undermined by refusal to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or to support Cape Wind. And we had had too many years of leadership more interested in having the job than doing the job.
Together we set out on a journey to change that. Along the way, the global economy collapsed. Thousands of people lost jobs, lost savings, lost homes. Many, maybe some of you, lost confidence. People all over the Commonwealth began to wonder whether the American Dream itself was up for grabs.
Times like these are more than a test of policy. They are a test of character.
So, when the going got tough, we didn't look for scapegoats or run for cover. We didn't lose our temper or our way. Growing up in rough times and rough circumstances taught me not to just curl up and wait for better times. No, what I learned was that optimism and effort, hope and hard work, is the only way to climb out of a hole.
So, just like families across the Commonwealth, we took a fresh look at our plan, stiffened our resolve, and made choices.
We chose to invest in education, in health care, and in job creation, because we all know that educating our kids, being able to count on good health care, and having a job is the path to a better future.
And that's why today Massachusetts leads the Nation in student achievement and health care coverage for our residents.
That's why we are creating jobs faster than most other states, why our unemployment rate is well below the national average, why we're coming out of recession faster than the rest of the country, and why CNBC has moved our state up to the fifth best place in America to do business.
Gov. John Lynch (D)
Jan. 6, 2011
New Hampshire is a special place because of the hard work and innovation of our people. But also because of thoughtful bipartisan policies we've pursued over the decades.
In New Hampshire, we have a strategy that is working. A strategy that has put us on the top of almost every national ranking. Today, New Hampshire has the fastest-growing economy in the nation. We have the lowest state taxes. We are the safest state. We are the most livable state. And New Hampshire is considered the best state in the nation to raise children.
As we move forward, we must not abandon the very policies that have made us the envy of the nation.
Our challenge is to build on what is already working; to have the courage to address the areas where we can improve; and to stay focused on what truly matters to the people of our great state.
The impacts of this recession on our families and businesses are real and cannot be understated and cannot be forgotten. But New Hampshire has fared better than most of the nation. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. The Federal Reserve Bank says New Hampshire had the fastest economic growth of any state in the nation in the past year, and predicts we will lead the country in economic growth in the coming year. The National Journal calls New Hampshire the highest-performing economy in the nation. Think about it. Fifty states and New Hampshire is the best.
Gov. Peter Shumlin (D)
Jan. 6, 2011
While leaders across America, influenced by the extraordinary economic power of oil, coal and automobile companies, equivocate about climate change, we must not. That our planet is warming at an alarming rate is undeniable. But I raise this not to engage in an abstract discussion of climate science. I raise it because I believe Vermont's economic future will be determined by how we respond to this challenge. We will provide the brainpower, make the products, and seize the job opportunities a lower carbon economy requires.
Vermont's diversified jobs future is bright. Manufacturing, deployment and production of renewable energy and efficiency, tourism, technology, and agriculture are all sectors of our economy with potential for unlimited growth.
As we work to put Vermonters back to work, one job at a time, let us always be mindful that government does not create jobs; entrepreneurs do. What government must do is to make the necessary infrastructure choices that are essential to job growth for this new era.
This agenda consists of five goals: expanding broadband, containing health care costs, educating our work force, providing tax fairness and credit for emerging businesses, and supporting a renaissance in Vermont agriculture. It is big, it is ambitious, and it is achievable if we view it as our common purpose.
Gov. Dan Malloy (D)
Jan. 5, 2011
In our innovative heyday we had more patents issued per capita than any other state in the union. We defined the American industrial revolution on a global basis and consequently enjoyed the highest per capita income of anywhere in the nation. We will forever be home to the world-class legacies of Harriett Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Eli Whitney, Prudence Crandall, and so many others.
Perhaps nowhere was our character better defined than by Abraham Davenport of my hometown of Stamford when he spoke about The Dark Day in 1780. He was a public servant in Hartford when a mysterious episode brought darkness to the daytime skies throughout New England. There was a prevailing belief that Judgment Day was upon the land, threatening a shutdown of the Legislature, when Davenport stood and said:
"I am against an adjournment. The Day of Judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought."
Today, we could use a few candles. Because as most people in Connecticut know, ours is not a pretty picture.
Today I see an economic crisis and an employment crisis, both fueled by an unfriendly employer environment, a lack of educational resources, a deteriorating transportation system, and an enormous budget crisis of historic proportions. All coddled by a habit of political sugarcoating that has passed our problems onto the next generation.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the next generation is here. And we bring enough energy to make Abraham Davenport proud as we shine a light not only on Connecticut's problems, but on workable solutions that will leave our great state much better than how we found her.
Gov. Paul LePage (R)
Jan. 5, 2011
One area where we must put politics and specials interests aside is education.
Students are the most important people in the classroom. Every decision we make and every dollar we spend must be focused on the individualized needs of our kids.
Our standards need to be high, administration must be lean and we have to make sure we find solutions that work for all students.
I believe we need to make vocational education a priority again in our schools. Training our young people in a trade while they earn their diploma is a path to a good living.
I believe we also need to create five year high schools in Maine where students can graduate with an associate's degree that is a leg up for entering the workforce. And these credits can be transferred into our four year degree universities, reducing the time and expense of earning a college degree in Maine.
Gov. Rick Scott (R)
Jan. 4, 2011
Clear goals and hard work can achieve amazing things. The giant oak trees that surround us here are what they are because acorns had a plan. Once we take the right steps, I am absolutely convinced that Florida will become the most exciting place in the world to live and work.
Let's begin by facing squarely the challenge of our time -- a stalled economy. This morning more than a million Floridians got out of bed and faced another day of unemployment. For months they've searched for work. They fill out applications, they beg for interviews, they face rejection after rejection.
Many are people who once earned a good living on a construction site. When the economy stalled, building stopped, and they found themselves with skills, but no degree and no job.
Some are young adults who got a degree and were eager to get started on their lives, but they couldn't find a job, and they've had to move back home.
Others are middle-aged adults who had been steadily employed for years -- and then lost their jobs almost overnight.
Unemployed parents struggle to put on a brave face for their children, but it's hard to hide the fact that the wolf is at the door.
For all the unemployed, life without a paycheck is a desperate daily scramble to provide the basics. I've been a child in a home like that. My father was often laid off, my mother took in ironing just so we could have food on the table. I have a very clear memory of their fear and uncertainty as they struggled to provide for five kids, so, for me, job creation is a mission.
My personal memories fortify my commitment to this mission. There are millions of families across Florida whose future depends on the steps we take to create jobs. America was built on the promise that anyone could succeed who was willing to work hard, but, when our economy falters and jobs disappear, that American promise seems hollow. Left uncorrected, high unemployment creates a spiral down into hopelessness.
We will not let that happen in Florida.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I)
Jan. 4, 2011
Let us begin an era of political collaboration, of cultural and ethnic acceptance, of shared sacrifice and, most importantly, of faith and trust in each other. If we do, Rhode Island will most certainly prosper once more.
And so I say today to every Rhode Islander ... the only way we can move forward is to move forward together.
Tomorrow I will rescind the so-called E-verify Executive Order. However well intentioned it may have been, it has caused needless anxiety within our Latino community without demonstrating any progress on illegal immigration ... an issue I strongly believe must be solved at the Federal level.
And I would hope that Rhode Island will catch up to her New England neighbors and pass a bill to establish marriage equality. I urge our general Assembly to quickly consider and adopt this legislation. When marriage equality is the law in Rhode Island, we honor our forefathers who risked their lives and fortune in the pursuit of human equality.
Rhode Island today must be as welcoming to all as Roger Williams intended it to be. Mark my words, these two actions will do more for economic growth in our state that any economic development loan.
Because good business is about treating people right, just as good government is.
Each part of our agenda is important unto itself. But our ultimate goal is to reclaim the vision of our founder...It is written in marble behind me: "To hold forth a lively experiment ... that a most flourishing civil state may stand"
Gov. Jan Brewer (R)
Jan. 3, 2011
I'm honored to have been chosen to lead Arizona for the next four years, and I intend to lead with the mandate I've been given by the people. I'll continue with a common sense government – one that is ever mindful of what individual freedom is.
I believe the leaders you've chosen to administer the affairs of state with me – all of those here with me today – are united in that mission.
We will keep faith with Arizona. We will keep faith with the people who have placed their sacred trust in us.
And, when we have fulfilled our calling here, we intend to leave Arizona with a budget that is balanced; fueled by private enterprise, unencumbered by heavy regulations and unnecessary rules.
Gov. Jerry Brown (D)
Jan. 3, 2011
With so many people out of work and so many families losing their homes in foreclosure it is not surprising that voters tell us they are worried and believe that California is on the wrong track.
Yet, in the face of huge budget deficits year after year and the worst credit rating among the 50 states, our two political parties can't come close to agreeing on the right path forward. They remain in their respective comfort zones, rehearsing and rehashing old political positions.
Perhaps this is the reason why the public holds the state government in such low esteem. And that's a profound problem, not just for those of us who are elected, but for our whole system of self-government. Without the trust of the people, politics degenerates into mere spectacle; and democracy declines, leaving demagoguery and cynicism to fill the void.
The year ahead will demand courage and sacrifice. The budget I propose will assume that each of us who are elected to do the people's business will rise above ideology and partisan interest and find what is required for the good of California. There is no other way forward. In this crisis, we simply have to learn to work together as Californians first, members of a political party second.
Gov. Mark Dayton (D)
Jan. 3, 2011
What we do during the next four years will affect everyone who follows us, who will inherit their Minnesota from us. Their futures and ours are intertwined, and they are our responsibility.
All of us want -- and need -- a state that works better than today. One in which everyone has a good, well-paying job, with affordable health care and secure retirement benefits. Where the world's most innovative companies employ the world's best-educated people to produce life-enhancing goods and services. Where strong economic growth and sound environmental protection are both honored and assured.
Our children and grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren, will inherit a state where people from all over the world, now live here ... together. How well they can work together then will depend on how well we work together now. How well we accept, respect, and even come to appreciate our many differences. How soon we realize that those differences are among our greatest strengths, integrate them, and put them to work for all of us.
They will be born and raised in a state where their well-being will depend on how well we take care of our youngest citizens. Their values will depend on how well we take care of our oldest and sickest citizens. Their success will depend on how well we rebuild our infrastructure, protect our environment, and create new economic opportunities for them and their fellow Minnesotans.
Their better future begins with us. So does ours. A better Minnesota for all of us depends on all of us.
So, let us dedicate ourselves to rebuilding a successful state, one that again is the envy of the nation, a leader of the world. Let it be written that we were Minnesotans who led the way to something better than before, who created something greater than ourselves, who achieved together what none of us could have accomplished on our own.
By working together. Starting now.
Gov. Brian Sandoval (R)
Jan. 3, 2011
We live in a time when the odds seem to be against us. The earth has shifted beneath our feet. The old rules no longer apply in a new global economy. And for some, the results have been disastrous. Nevadans from all walks of life are faced with unemployment, foreclosures, and bankruptcy – hardships forged in the crucible of three long years of economic crisis. But character is measured in times of crisis.
People say Nevada is at the top of all the bad lists, and the bottom of all the good lists. This perception cannot – and will not – be our reality. These are our times, and we must live them to the fullest extent of our ability. We must not shrink from the challenges before us. We must confront them, together.
Some would have us believe that Nevada's best days are behind us – that we must resign ourselves to what we have momentarily become.
We dare not go down that road. We must have the optimism to remind each other that Nevada's long history is one of opportunities realized. Of succeeding even when others said we couldn't. If we make the tough choices – the right choices – we will be rewarded with a dramatically different future. I believe this. I believe it can be done. And I am optimistic that Nevada's best days are yet to come.
Gary Herbert (R)
Jan. 3, 2011
As we move forward and face the challenges of today, we must adhere to the time-proven principles of good government. As a state, we will continue to make government more responsive, more efficient and more taxpayer friendly. As a state, we will continue to make education our top priority, knowing that education is a key component to a vibrant and growing state economy.
As a state, we will do all that we can to support and keep our focus on the private sector to promote economic expansion and job creation. And let me underscore here today that America's traditional system of free enterprise is the only means to long-term job security and economic prosperity. As a state, we will preserve individual liberties and rights, while at the same time promoting individual responsibility and self-reliance.
As a state, we will advocate states' rights and we will vigorously resist the increasing burden of federal intrusion into our lives. Utah has demonstrated the innovation, the fiscal restraint and the problem-solving skills that can play an important role in providing solutions to the problems that confront America. As we lead by example, we will continue to exercise fiscal responsibility and budget discipline while maintaining the highest standards of openness and transparency.
We are making progress, and we are doing it in a disciplined and a thoughtful way, one that will achieve both immediate and long-term success. I see in the people of this state a unique character, a spirit of determination and a pioneer heritage that makes all things possible.
Gov. Scott Walker (R)
Jan. 3, 2011
When the citizens of the Wisconsin Territory approved our constitution in 1848, they envisioned a brighter future for themselves and their children.
It was a constitution born of conflict and controversy. First rejected, then approved as the people came together to forge a pioneering vision to drive our state forward.
It begins simply and speaks to the source of our liberties: "We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our Freedom, in order to secure its blessings, form a more perfect government, insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare, do establish this constitution." Powerful words.
Our rights as free people are given by our creator, not the government. Among these rights is the right to nurture our freedom and vitality through limited government.
These rights were articulated in our original constitution. They were never amended nor revised. And these rights are evident and expressed in our cherished freedoms. Among them... freedom of press, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Article I, Section 22 of the state constitution reads so eloquently: "The blessings of a free government can only be maintained by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles."
Today, in this inauguration, we affirm these values and fundamental principles. It is through frugality and moderation in government that we will see freedom and prosperity for our people.
Gov. Matt Mead (R)
Jan. 3, 2011
Thanks to the foresight and the thrift of those who traveled this road before me and occupied this office and the long line of able legislators who have managed the purse strings, Wyoming finds itself in a position any other state would envy. We have a balanced budget by law and by our fiscally conservative nature. We have great agriculture resources, we have great tourism. We have natural resources that, if managed well, can contribute to Wyoming's economy well into the future. But we have far more than money and natural resources. We have clean air, clean water; we have open and unspoiled spaces that call to residents and tourists alike.
We sometimes struggle with issues of management but we are blessed with diverse populations of wildlife that continue to enthrall and enrich those of us who live here. From Worland to Wamsutter, from Cody to Cheyenne, all across the state of Wyoming, we lucky few who live here wake up in the morning to the sun rising above the plains to our east and end our day watching it set in the ramparts of the Wind River Range.
There may not be many of us who live in the long stretches between the Bighorn Basin and Yellowstone National Park or between Hulett and Savery, but here's who we are: We still know how to split wood. We know how to jump-start a car. We know how to negotiate our way through a herd of cattle moving up the road. We are scientists, educators, mechanics and leaders in innovation. We are small business owners. We are self reliant. We have grit.
We are still the kind of people envisioned by the Founding Fathers who inspired by the sacred notions of liberty and self determination created a nation of citizens that govern themselves. We take care of each other. From the neighbor helping at a branding to the small-town doctors and nurses to those that care for our children or victims of crime to the volunteers who deliver holiday presents, we take care of each other. And as we move into the future taking care of each other is a commitment that will grow ever more important.
The issue of affordable health care is one that will be addressed. The question is whether we in Wyoming address it in a fashion that fits our needs or whether we accept a design crafted by input from 435 representatives and 100 senators, only three of whom are from Wyoming. Of necessity, the federal health care bill is an enormous compromise that Washington would have us believe will work as well in Wyoming as it does in California or Alabama. A compromise solution may be the best Congress could do; it is not the best we can do.
Gov. Rick Snyder (R)
Jan. 1, 2011
We must all come together to achieve success. It is time to stop fighting among ourselves, it is time to solve problems and create opportunities. It is also time to be bold. I've been cautioned by many that expectations are already too high. We shouldn't walk away from high expectations, it is time to deliver on high expectations. We need to stop accepting the status quo. ...
We have great things going, and we will celebrate them.
We all want to live in a state of high expectations, and more importantly high results. We can only achieve extraordinary things if we aspire beyond traditional thinking. The old, unbelievable needs to become the new achievable.
New expectations for our lives, and the lives of our children. Let today be the birth of a new chapter in Michigan's history. Let today be the birth of the era of innovation and the reinvention of Michigan.
Gov. Susana Martinez (R)
Jan. 1, 2011
We cannot just hang on. We cannot just endure misfortune and wait for our luck to change. We don't wait on destiny here. We make our destiny. In New Mexico we will shape our own destiny and we won't stand still. We will act. We will make our opportunities. We will dream. We will work. We will risk. We will improve. We will try. And if we fail, we will try harder.
We have much to do. Our challenges are many. And as each generation discovers for itself, our time is briefer than we once thought it would be. But there is no problem too hard for our imagination, our industry, our confidence and our freedom to overcome. We are equal to the task before us. We are bigger than our troubles. We are stronger than our obstacles. Have faith and courage, we will leave our state, our country and our world better than we found them.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)
Jan. 1, 2011
New York faces a deficit, a deficit that we talk about all day long: the budget deficit, the budget deficit. But it's actually worse. The state faces a budget deficit and a competence deficit and an integrity deficit and a trust deficit. And those are the obstacles we really face.
And the state is at a crossroads. I believe the decisions we make, the decisions my colleagues make, this year will define the trajectory of this state for years to come. The decisions we make today will shape the state we leave our children tomorrow.
Gov. Sean Parnell (R)
Dec. 6, 2010
We are Alaska, land of abundant resources and incomparable beauty. We are Alaska, home to a strong and resilient people. And we are Alaska, place of unlimited possibility.
Together, we set our course and, together, we determine the future of the 49th state. To do so, we must understand fully the challenges ahead. We face a federal government bent on expanding its regulatory reach at the cost of freedom and prosperity.
Our message to Washington is clear. This country was founded on, and made great by, the principles of self-rule and self-determination. As Ronald Reagan noted, the federal government was created by the states, not the other way around.
Where the federal government stays within its constitutional framework, we will honor it. Where it attempts to move adversely against Alaska's interests, we will block it. And, where our national government exceeds its legal authority, we will fight it.
Alaskans are hard working, smart, and we possess something in short supply in Washington: common sense. We know best how to right our economy, how to raise our children, and how to run our schools. So I say to Washington: We can do it.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D)
Dec. 6, 2010
On this day in Hawaii we begin our work on building a sustainable prosperity that can be enjoyed today and for generations to come, we will make investments in the capabilities of our people, and we will build strong communities based on our core values of compassion and unity.
Our first task is accelerating our recovery by restoring and creating good jobs, capitalizing on new opportunities, working smarter and more creatively, and building partnerships to optimize results. We can no longer spend precious time and energy fighting to gain a political edge. Instead we must focus all our efforts on Hawaii's future and our respective roles in it. Each one of us has important work to do -- as laborers and managers, business owners and innovators, public and private sector leaders, educators and caregivers.
We will face challenges, but we will not let these become excuses. Rather our driving message will be, "Make it happen!" We will let our actions speak as we move forward toward our common goals. In the end, if we actually do what we say we will do -- consistently aligned with our deepest sense of what is right -- then we will restore confidence in our government and in ourselves. The measure of our success will be a welcome restoration of pride and honor in our Hawaii. We will know that we have lived in accordance with our most treasured values.