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Gov. Tucker, Gov. Huckabee, Sen. Pryor, Mr. Chief Justice, distinguished guests, and, most importantly, to my fellow Arkansans,
I am humbled by the opportunity and the responsibility that you, the people of Arkansas, have bestowed upon me. Today, I accept that responsibility as the 46th elected Governor of this great state.
There are moments in life that stand apart. This is one of those moments. For me, it is my highest public honor. But, more importantly, it is a tribute to the miracle of democracy that we witness every election cycle in the U.S.—the orderly transfer of authority. And it is the envy of the world—this moment here on the steps of our state Capitol. It is a reminder of why we are all so blessed to be Americans.
And we are especially privileged to be Arkansans, and to live in a state with so much natural beauty and so many wonderful people—a state with a rich history and unbounded promise. Yes, we are the Natural State. And while I am from the Ozark hills, I know the beauty of a Delta sunrise and the vast timberland of the South. And so while we enjoy the natural bounty of our geography, we also continue as the Land of Opportunity. And today we are presented with unprecedented economic opportunity during time of great change in the world.
In fact, we live in a time of consistent change. Political change. Demographic change. New technologies. Our challenge in the years ahead will be to adapt our agriculture, our government services, our health-care system and our industry to our changing world without forsaking our values. In other words, let’s embrace the energy of change and all the opportunity it brings without forsaking our foundation. Our most reliable foundation is truth, our faith and confidence in Almighty God as He guides our nation and state.
It is truly a new day in Arkansas. An historic day. A day that many of us never thought we would see in our lifetimes. The Republican majorities are evidence of the realization that a new day requires a new look. A new look at how government works; how we create jobs; how we partner with faith-based and nonprofit organizations, and how we adapt in every walk of life to changing technology.
But governing is not about which political party is in the majority. Governing is about setting aside differences and searching for common ground. And as we search for the common ground, we realize that our differences are smaller than we thought and our hearts are larger than we imagined. We realize that we all care about the state we love and that we can work together to accomplish even more to enhance freedom and the spirit that is uniquely American and, yes, uniquely Arkansas.
And when we come to work tomorrow in this magnificent building behind me, our charge will be the same: to build a new foundation for job creation and economic growth. My top priority is to grow the economy of this state, to create jobs, and for Arkansas to enter a time of sustained economic power and influence. This is no easy task. But we accept these challenges. We embrace them. After all, we are Arkansans. There is no moment too big for us.
We can compete and win in this global marketplace by lowering our tax rates, starting with the middle class; by improving job skill training in our high schools and two-year colleges; by offering computer science in every high school; and by reducing the burden of unreasonable regulations on our businesses.
As governor, I want people to work; and when they work, they should be better off; and when they work hard enough, they should move up the economic ladder. These are common sense values that give Arkansans hope. Hope for a better life. "We have every right to dream heroic dreams," Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural address.
And while we strive to work and get ahead, we must not forget our responsibility to provide a safety net for those particularly in need. And I am grateful for those who are working every day to protect neglected and abused children.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge the military veterans who are here today and our men and women in uniform serving all over the world. They remind us of the sacrifice necessary to maintain freedom. And they remind us of Arkansas's strong contributions and link to the world—our important place in the world. What we do here matters to people all over the globe. Just consider:
Our agriculture nourishes the world.
Our homegrown businesses, like Walmart, Murphy Oil, Dillard's and Tyson, clothe and feed the world.
Our world-class academic institutions, like UAMS not far from here, educate the world.
Our arts, from the one-of-a-kind exhibits at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville to the talented artisans of the Delta such as Miller's Mud in Dumas, are among the joys of the world.
Our writers and musicians entertain and inspire. I noticed just the other day that the great soul singer Al Green of Forrest City was honored by the Kennedy Center. We are so blessed with talent.
I don't know if you're familiar with the gentleman who sang the national anthem, Dwight Clyde "D.C." Washington, but he's one of the most recognized singers of the anthem in the United States. He now lives in Springfield, Virginia, but he grew up in McGehee, Arkansas.
Considering the size of our state and our national and global influence, what Arkansas has done is nothing short of amazing. And that's why I'm so optimistic about our future together. Arkansans can do anything because, well, we have done everything.
And we're just getting started because it is a New Day in Arkansas!
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the people of Arkansas.