Gov. Mike Pence seizes the moment, lays down executive orders for change
By Rick Yencer
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Humbled by their support, Mike Pence promised to govern for all the people as he took the oath Monday, becoming the 50th governor of the Hoosier state.
More than 1,500 people stood outside the Indiana Statehouse to watch new Gov. Pence, Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, and Attorney General Greg Zoeller be sworn into office.
The cold brisk outdoors complete with supporters, school children and onlookers summoned in a new Republican governor who then signed 15 executive orders Monday afternoon, including some new initiatives like putting a moratorium on new business regulations and establish a separate Office of Energy Development. Another order set a goal of procuring three percent of state contracts from veteran-owned businesses.
Pence, standing with his wife, Karen, and children, Michael, Charlotte and Audrey, brought hope and promise to the people, encouraging them to do whatever they can to improve themselves and the state.
Knowing that many Hoosiers are hurting in the economy, Pence said, "We must meet this moment with resolve, determined to leave our state more prosperous, our children more prepared and and our communities and families stronger."
Regarding education, Pence was clear that he believed in choice, adding Indiana has some of the best teachers in the state, reminding the crowd that his wife was a teacher.
"We must work together to put kids first," said the new governor. "There's nothing that ails our schools that can't be fixed by giving parents more choices and teachers more freedom to teach."
Afterwards, Pence rescinded an executive order by outgoing Gov. Mitch Daniels that put the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board under the state superintendent of public instruction. That body again reports to the governor.
New state superintendent Glenda Ritz, a Democrat, was not part of the ceremony and apparently not concerned about the governor overseeing education employment relations.
Pence later met with leaders of the Indiana House and Senate, giving them a idea of his legislative agenda besides his state budget plan that could include a 10 percent cut in income taxes.
Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, Senate minority leader, appreciated Pence's gesture to include legislative leaders on his first day to help tackle some of the state's problems.
"The governor was right to highlight jobs, workforce development, education and quality of life in his address," said Lanane, who hoped the governor will steer away from contentious social issues that divide the state.
Muncie physician Mohammed Bahrami wondered how conservative Pence would be besides how he would include others like the growing Islamic community in Indiana.
And Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, said she would hold her policy questions for another day.
"This is his day," said Errington.