NASHVILLE -- A newly inaugurated Gov. Phil Bredesen said Saturday he will seek a common-sense middle ground between higher taxes and spending cuts to solve problems as governor.
Bredesen, 59, took the oath of office as Tennessees 48th governor before a chilled gathering of about 3,000 people on the sun-splashed Legislative Plaza.
With the state Capitol as a backdrop, Bredesen took the oath of office administered by Tennessee Chief Justice Frank Drowota. He was honored by a 19-gun cannon salute.
In his speech, Bredesen noted that other states are grappling with financial problems that Tennessee has been battling for the last few years. But, he said, in Tennessee there have been only two approaches.
One way is the expansive view -- more revenue, more responsibilities for government. The second is a more restricted view -- cut expenses, fewer services, Bredesen said in his eight-minute inaugural address.
The third way is common sense, and its already the way that families across our state are managing their own affairs and lives.Budget battles have marred the last two legislative sessions, with crowds of angry protestors converging on the Capitol in protest of income tax proposals backed by former Gov. Don Sundquist and House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh.
To ringing applause, Bredesen said public officials should stop arguing about money like some dysfunctional family and start setting priorities and bringing the ingenuity and focus that America is famous for in its businesses to the world of serving the public.
Bredesen called for setting priorities in dealing with the states problems.
We have to get control of the budget and TennCare, and the work of the next few months will largely be achieving this. We have to get our economy growing and creating more and better jobs, he said.
We will accomplish these goals.
Still, as he noted throughout the gubernatorial campaign, I want you to know that the first priority for me -- what I want to be remembered for as governor -- is educating our children.
Bredesen said a lack of education held back his Uncle Ozzie, who worked as railroad baggage handler, milkman and bookkeeper.
But he never graduated from high school, never attended college, never got all the tools that he needed to complement his God-given talents. I learned from Uncle Ozzie, Bredesen said.
Among the dignitaries on the podium with Bredesen and his family were Tennessees living former governors, Winfield Dunn, Lamar Alexander, Ned McWherter and Don Sundquist.
Also on hand were the states congressional delegation, including new Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, state Supreme Court justices and members of the state Legislature.
VIPs sitting on the platform received thermal blankets, a welcome gift given the 23-degree temperature during the noontime event. Following the ceremony, legislators returned to the House and Senate chambers to adjourn the organizational session of the 103rd General Assembly.
Lawmakers return for the regular legislative session on Feb. 3.
Sundquist, whose two terms in office was marred in the final two years by fights over a state income tax, has bought a pickup truck and a new car, planned to drive to his retirement home in Townsend on Sunday.