Gov. Haslam Sworn Into Office

On January 15, 2011, in News 2011, by Mark Norris
January 15, 2011

For the first time in state history, the governor’s office and both houses are run by Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R – Collierville, said, “There is some special significance for we Republicans this time, but it’s really about a new beginning. It’s an inauguration of a new administration for all the people of Tennessee, regardless of their political party.”

In Haslam’s inaugural address, he said, “As your governor, I promise to be a good listener and a continuous learner, to lead with grace and humility, and when faced with adversity, to respond with determination.”

He and others may need a lot of that determination in the coming days, weeks and months ahead, as the state budget faces serious cuts.

Norris said that about $1.5 billion has been cut from the budget, in various programs and departments. More adjustments are yet to be made.

The governor will present his first budget in March.

“Reductions in programs that are…many of them are social services programs that will be very painful. But we’re not in as bad a shape as a lot of states are that are having to make even deeper cuts than we have,” Norris said.

The challenge will come in having everyone agree on how to cut back.

Rep. John DeBerry, D – Memphis, said that the new era is different, naturally, because of the Republican majorities. But he said the budget-cutting process has been going on for a while and that there would be no “culture shock.”

DeBerry said, “If we concentrate on making sure that we deliver the services at the best price, the best management, not waste money, I’m all for that. So I just want to make sure when we do get ready to cut, we’re still delivering the services.”

Many Tennesseans received free or reduced admission to museums on Saturday as part of the inauguration celebration.

At the National Civil Rights Museum, many voiced their concerns and hopes for the new administration.

“He’s got to be able to keep some type of monies in the budget in order to keep things like this [National Civil Rights Museum] alive and keep it operational and presentable to the public,” said Lynn Trice, who visits Shelby County every year from Georgia.

Allison Renfro, a student in Memphis and originally from Nashville, said, “I think one of the biggest challenges for Tennessee right now is illiteracy, especially here in Memphis. The schools are struggling.”

Renfro was an intern for the Governor’s Books From Birth Foundation, started by Gov. Bredesen. She said that she hopes Gov. Haslam will continue the program.

Others were concerned about bringing in new jobs.

All were waiting to see what the new administration would choose to focus on.

DeBerry said, “I think you’ve got 99 very good people up there. And we happen to disagree on some things. But if all of us live up to the best of our character, and we keep focus on why folks sent us there in the first place, I think we’ll find a solution.”


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