New Gov. Mike Pence pressed Hoosiers to “do your part” to improve the state’s quality of life during his inaugural address on Monday.
Using the Bible from President Benjamin Harrison’s inauguration, the Republican swore an oath of office administered by Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson on the west steps of the Indiana Statehouse.
The crowd of about 1,500 onlookers was bundled in hats and gloves as the temperature hovered around 20 degrees – which Pence noted as he wrapped up his speech.
“The time is now. The air is cold. So let’s get back inside and get to work,” he said.
He then went to his office for the first time as governor, where he and new Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann signed documents that officially installed them in their new positions.
“Signed, sealed and delivered,” Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said as the two finished. Their families and the supporters who had gathered in the office applauded while Pence grinned.
The crowd for Pence’s speech included political heavyweights such as former governors Mitch Daniels and Evan Bayh, and Pence devoted much of his speech to praising their work.
He also said it’s up to Indiana’s citizens to help reach his goal of taking the state, as he often said on the campaign trail and during his transition, “from good to great.”
“With so many Hoosiers hurting in this economy, we must meet this moment with resolve, determined to leave our state more prosperous, our children more prepared, and our communities and families stronger than ever before,” he said.
Pence skipped details on his agenda for the most part, saving those for a budget presentation planned for Tuesday and for his Jan. 22 State of the State speech, which will be delivered before the House and the Senate.
But he made a vague reference to his proposal to lower the state’s individual income tax from 3.4 percent to 3.06 percent.
“We must continue to live within our means, hold the line on spending, and let Hoosiers keep more of their hard-earned income,” Pence said.
He touched on his campaign pledge to support the expansion of Indiana’s education options, including charter schools and private school vouchers.
“There’s nothing that ails our schools that can’t be fixed by giving parents more choices and teachers more freedom to teach,” Pence said.
He also made a brief reference to the social issues for which he was known in Congress, but stayed away from on the gubernatorial campaign trail, save for a proposal to have Indiana regulations include a “family impact statement” judging whether those rules would promote marriage.
“Because our present challenges are not just economic in nature, we must also seek ways to strengthen the institutions that nurture the character of our people, most especially the family,” Pence said.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker congratulated Pence but said he should stay away from meddling with family matters.
“We hope it will focus, as he pledged, on jobs and the economy and not on issues that will divide our state and put certain Hoosiers at a significant disadvantage,” Parker said.
Ellspermann and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who was sworn in for his second term on Monday, also delivered brief remarks.
Zoeller’s indicated he is lining up with Pence. He repeated Pence’s “good to great” campaign line and said the state should do more to “push back” against federal government regulations and mandates.