Gov. Bentley’s inaugural address: Jan. 19, 2015

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Inaugural Address
January 19, 2015
Governor Robert Bentley

My Fellow Alabamians:

Today marks a new day in our State’s history. It’s the dawn of a new year and a new time for Alabama.

I want to thank you for choosing to spend this special day with me, and with your distinguished Constitutional officers as we embark on a new chapter in the great history of our state.

As we each take the oath of office this day may we always be mindful of the promise we make to you- the people who elected us. You have entrusted us to serve you and all the citizens of this state with honesty and integrity, and with humility.

We have sworn to uphold the Constitutions of both of our Great State and our Great Nation, to diligently carry out the duties of the Office to which we have been elected.

I want you to know it is with great reverence that I honor the trust you have placed in me, as your Governor, and in Dianne as your First Lady.

As I have done every day since becoming Governor of Alabama four years ago, I thank God for the opportunity He’s given me to serve you each and every day.

Each morning when we rise to see another day we are given a gift, and we choose how we will use the promise of a new day.

On this Inauguration Day we rise to celebrate a new beginning.

It is a time for reflection and for evaluation, but more importantly it is a time for looking ahead.

It is not about any one person.

It is about you – the hardworking people of this great State.

And it is the day we set our course for our future.

We have accomplished so much in the last four years since I first took the Oath of Office.

We have come so far since I last stood here before you in 2011.

We made promises to the people of this state, and we have followed through.

Unemployment has dropped to its lowest level since 2008.

Tens of thousands of people are working today, who didn't have a job four years ago.

Towns and communities that have been without new major industry for decades now have new jobs, new opportunities and new hope.

Our government is running more effectively and more efficiently.

We have saved you, the taxpayers over $1.2 billion dollars annually.

Each one of our 67 counties is seeing opportunities for greater economic development because we created and embarked on the largest road and bridge repair project this state has ever seen.

And we have given life-changing opportunities for children by expanding our top ranked voluntary Pre K program to thousands of preschoolers.

We’ve reached these milestones thanks in large part to many of the men and women who join me this morning.

They are hardworking public servants, and I’m honored to call them my Cabinet.

They have worked alongside me serving our state to make it stronger and better for all of our citizens. And I want to thank them for their diligence and persistence.

Like me, they love Alabama and know that our best days are still ahead.

We have come so far.

We have worked so hard and working together we have taken our state to new heights and achieved so much.

But we can never allow ourselves to be satisfied with past achievements.

We cannot rest on our laurels.

In the Book of Isaiah, the prophet tells the Children of Israel in Chapter 43,

“Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past. See! I am doing a new thing.”

If we are continually looking behind, focused on our past – whether good or bad - we can’t see where we are going in our future.

Past victories, and past failures have no bearing now on our future endeavors.

Just as a Championship football team can’t afford to dwell on defeat or revel in victory for too long, We must focus on what lies ahead if we are going to tackle the tough issues that face our state.

There are no easy solutions, the decisions we must choose as your state leaders will be tough. But we will do what’s right and what’s best for our beloved state and our people.

We face a budget shortfall that rises into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

We must remedy the problems that have plagued our prison system for decades.

And we must work to improve the wellbeing of our people by making healthcare more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Four years ago we stood here recognizing the uphill battle before us; unemployment was high, the economy was struggling and state government could barely afford to sustain itself.

Undaunted, we went right to work, streamlining state government, creating well-paying jobs and getting our economy back on track.

I want to thank the members of the Alabama Legislature for their efforts and cooperation over the past four years.

We will continue the next four years with the same persistent attitude that we can, and we will solve the problems that lie ahead.

We will continue working hard every day to make sure anyone in Alabama who needs a job will have a job.

We will keep working to create jobs so Alabama reaches full employment.

We will focus on the needs of the thousands of small businesses that make up the backbone of our economy, knowing that it’s not just larger industries that are the ones helping to put Alabama back to work.

We will train up a highly skilled workforce and give our people every opportunity for a well-paying job.

And to those who have fought for our freedoms and served our country, our state and our communities with courage, we will show our gratitude to our Veterans by helping them find work.

We will work to give young children a ‘new, strong foundation’ with the opportunity for a good education in a voluntary Pre K program.

At the end of the next four years we will be able to tell every parent in Alabama, there is a Pre K classroom available for your child.

We will take on the attitude of Pioneers, rather than Settlers.

We will originate, evolve and initiate new ideas, new solutions and a new mindset rather than settle for the same status quo as years and decades gone by.

That is because government will never change, unless we change it.

Just ask the thousands of brave men and women who, half a century ago, marched the 54 miles from Selma to the very steps where I stand now, for the right to participate in the greatest democratic process in the world.

Fifty years ago this very day, Dr. Martin Luther King led a march on the County Courthouse in Selma so African- Americans could register to vote. By the end of the day he would be punched and kicked at a Selma hotel. And today we celebrate and honor his legacy.

Two months later in the month of March 1965, the nation once again turned its attention to our state as men and women faced down threats of physical violence for the right to vote, to have a voice in the selection of our leaders, as they embarked on the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March.

The people of this state won’t back down from a challenge.

Not in the fight for civil rights, not in defending our nation’s Freedoms, not in the after math of devastating natural disasters.

And as Leaders of this state, neither will we.

And as your Governor, neither will I.

We will face our challenges head on.

We will work with both parties, across the aisle, to make our state better.

Because that’s what you expect of us.

Working together there is no challenge we cannot overcome.

I love this state. I love the people of this state.

You have asked me to continue to serve you, to be your Governor.

And I want to Thank you, Alabama, from the bottom of my heart.

I will work hard everyday to honor the trust you’ve given me.

And I challenge each elected official to do the same.

And when I walk out of these historic doors having served my time as Governor, I pray it will be said of me what is said in the book of Acts of King David, an imperfect man but one called and led by God for a specific task, a man after God’s own heart.

And it was said,  “David had served God’s purpose in his own generation….”

We have changed this state the last four years.

We are going to change it even more this next four years.

We are going to do it for the better and make Alabama even greater.

God Bless You All. God Bless this great Nation, and may God continue to Bless the Great State of Alabama.