FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 13, 2011) – Saying the message of the gubernatorial election is that voters "want leaders who build bridges, not dams," Governor Steve Beshear began his second term on Tuesday with a daylong series of inauguration events.
Before six former governors and about 1300 people, Beshear's inaugural address on the steps of the capitol building reflected the skies over Frankfort, overcast with a hint of brightness.
"My friends, hard times are not over," Beshear said, "While the economy and state revenues are beginning to recover, the lingering effects of the recession pose immense challenges. Difficult decisions loom. And more sacrifice lies ahead … because our next budget may be the most challenging yet."
Facing a budget shortfall upwards of $300 million, Beshear stressed targeted cuts. After a campaign short on specifics, the governor planted two stakes in the ground for the General Assembly, tax reform and expanded gambling.
"We must find the political courage and the will to lay the foundation for a better tomorrow," Beshear said, "A foundation which requires, as we come out of this recession, the restructuring of our tax system to make it more fair and efficient to meet the needs of our people."
"And a foundation which requires allowing the people of Kentucky to vote on expanded gaming within our borders," Beshear continued.
The governor plans to push for a constitutional amendment to expand gambling, he explained to reporters.
"It's all in how he words it, on whether there is enough votes," responded Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville), an expanded gambling opponent in comments after the inauguration, "And I would suggest that before he presents it in either the House or the Senate he needs to completely vet it to the public, allow the words to go out there, to let all the stakeholders and individuals who are for and against expansion of gambling know what the details are."
Five weeks after Williams was swept away in a Beshear landslide, the top Republican and top Democrat in Kentucky had still not spoken to each other since election night.
"We're setting up a meeting with Senator Williams, hopefully for next week," Beshear said to reporters after the inaugural parade, "I've been meeting with a lot of the different state Senate Republicans to just get a deal for how we're going to move forward."
"I'll await his call," Williams said, "I spoke on election night and I know he's been busy so if he would like to speak he can call and I'll be glad to talk to him."
The boldest comments of the inauguration belonged to Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson.
"I plan to be the most active and hopefully effective lieutenant governor in the modern history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky," Abramson said in his remarks.
It is the first statewide office for the 21 year Louisville City Hall veteran, who is seen as a likely candidate for governor in 2015. Abramson touted his experience in his statewide debut.
"I have thirty plus years of friendship with Steve Beshear," Abramson continued, "which I would submit to you creates probably the strongest relationship between a lieutenant governor and a governor that this Commonwealth has ever seen."
It was unclear whether outgoing Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo attended the ceremony. Mongiardo was dropped from the ticket when he decided to run in the 2010 U.S. Senate primary.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Steve Beshear has been sworn-in for a second term as Kentucky governor in a midnight state Capitol ceremony a little more than one month after overwhelmingly winning re-election.
Beshear was surrounded by his family, closest friends and advisers as he took Kentucky's traditional and archaic constitutional oath. The pledge requires him to swear that he has never fought a duel with deadly weapons, a holdover from Kentucky's frontier days that always draws modern-day snickers.
Newly elected Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, formerly mayor of Louisville, was being sworn-in immediately after Beshear.
Beshear was re-elected Nov. 8 amid lingering economic uncertainty and widespread unemployment that political foes had hoped would be his undoing.
The a 67-year-old Democrat is only the third Kentucky governor to serve consecutive four-year terms.