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FRANKFORT – Ignoring overcast skies and chilly temperatures, Gov. Steve Beshear shared his vision for tomorrow with Kentuckians during his inaugural speech Tuesday afternoon on the capitol’s steps.
Beshear became only the second Kentucky governor in modern times to serve consecutive terms. Paul Patton was the first.
Tuesday’s 2 p.m. swearing-in was ceremonial because Beshear and new Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, Louisville’s former 5-term mayor, were both sworn in at midnight in the capitol’s rotunda. It’s the first time Abramson has held a statewide office.
Beshear’s first official duty of his second term was to sign an executive order certifying the appointment of Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini as the state’s adjacent general.
During his speech following Tuesday afternoon’s public oath, Beshear urged Kentucky’s leaders to avoid Washington’s pitfalls of acrimonious shouting.
“… Shouting does not foster unity,” he said. “It only makes people cover their ears.”
Beshear touted his leadership during tough economic times for the state.
“Ten times now we’ve balanced Kentucky’s budget,” Beshear told the crowd. “So far, we’ve cut over one-point-three billion dollars in spending, shrinking the executive branch to its smallest size in decades.”
But cuts have been targeted to protect the state’s priorities – education, public safety, job creation and health care for the most vulnerable, he said.
As a result, Kentucky’s financial footing is better than many states, Beshear told the crowd.
His top priority, Beshear said, is to create new jobs for Kentuckians and to protect the ones we already have.
But along the way, each child in the state will be guaranteed a life of promise and meaning. That means concentrating on improvements to the health-care and educational systems, Beshear said.
The next four years will see concentrated efforts in these areas, he said.
“We will continue to find health insurance for uncovered children…to improve dental care…to make sure our children have enough to eat…and to prevent chronic problems by reducing smoking.
“We will continue restructuring our preschool and day-care programs to ensure every child is mentally and physically prepared for kindergarten the day he or she enters the classroom.
“And we will continue tuning up our education infrastructure at every level – from preschool through college – to improve its fundamental mission,” the governor said.
About 4,200 people participated in Tuesday morning’s inaugural parade in Frankfort. Longtime observers called the parade route crowd one of the smallest in years. Among the parade participants were 54 high school marching bands from every corner of the commonwealth.