Wednesday, December 08, 1999

Patton calls for harmony

Governor starts historic term with divided assembly

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKFORT — Gov. Paul Patton used the historic inauguration of his second term to call for harmony and cooperation in the politically divided General Assembly and to touch broadly on a legislative agenda.

        Standing on the steps of the State Capitol, Mr. Patton, the 53rd governor of Kentucky, delivered a 15-minute inaugural address to a crowd of about 3,000 just prior to taking the oath of office.

        “We're proud of what we've done, but this is not a day to revel in the accomplishments of the past,” Mr. Patton said. “It is rather a day to set new goals. A day to look for new horizons. A day to renew our commitment to make Kentucky the very best it can be.”

        Unlike the inaugural speech he delivered four years ago, in which he called for major reform of Kentucky's higher education system, Mr. Patton dealt little with specifics during the Tuesday afternoon address.

        “During these next four years we will address the educational needs of all our people, from our youngest children to our adult work force,” he said. “We'll invest in more infrastructure, we'll seek solutions in health care, we'll protect the environment, we'll punish criminals, we'll improve the econo my, we'll make our tax system more fair.”

        But Mr. Patton, the first governor in two centuries serving consecutive terms, did use the speech to reach out to the General Assembly, which is preparing for the legislative session that begins Jan. 4.

        Though Mr. Patton has enjoyed a relatively good relationship with the 138-member state legislature, he is the first governor in Kentucky history dealing

        with a Senate controlled by the Republicans.

        Democrats still hold the majority in the House of Representatives.

        “This is truly a historic occasion,” Mr. Patton said. “Not just because we're inaugurating the first governor to serve consecutive full terms in 200 years, but rather because we've selected a group of leaders who've shown by their past actions that they have the capacity to rise above partisan posturing.

        “Some are concerned about our ability to work together these next four years,” he continued. “I believe we can ... and I believe we can come together to move Kentucky forward.

        “To the members of the Kentucky General Assembly, again I offer the hands of partnership, a commitment to work with you as an equal,” Mr. Patton said.

        “There's no doubt that the governor used his speech to reach out to the General Assembly,” said House Majority Caucus Chairman Jim Callahan, D-Wilder, a close ally of the governor.

        Mr. Patton was introduced to the crowd by U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, who lauded the governor for his work on trying to improve education in Kentucky.

        “This is a governor who knows that there is nothing more important to the future of Kentucky that education,” Mr. Riley said. “Over the past four years America has ... been watching Paul Patton, and it has liked what it has seen.

        “When others wanted to turn back the progress that Kentucky made (in education), Paul Patton fought to keep education moving forward, and won,” Mr. Riley said.

        After Mr. Patton and Lt. Gov. Steve Henry took the oath of office, a salute of 21 cannons was fired from a nearby hillside rising from the Kentucky River. Following the salute, four Kentucky Air National Guard helicopters flew overhead, just above the newly refurbished Capitol dome.

History merges with parade, parties

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