Last week Harrisburg saw a flurry of activities, with Inaugural events kicking off on Monday, January 17. Harrisburg Inaugural festivities for Governor Tom Corbett and Lt. Governor Jim Cawley began with a Family Program at Harrisburg’s Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, showcasing the Commonwealth’s performing arts. The festivities wrapped up with the Inaugural Ball held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center on Tuesday, January 18. Members of both the House and the Senate resumed their duties in the Legislature on Wednesday, January 19.
The Swearing-In Ceremony was held at 11:30 am on the steps of the East Wing of the Capitol Complex, and hundreds were present to witness Tom Corbett’s Inauguration as Pennsylvania’s 46th governor. Also present were three former Republican governors, Dick Thornburgh, Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker, and Democrat Ed Rendell. Governor Corbett’s 15-minute speech was general in nature and didn’t touch much on his priorities as governor. He is set to give his 2011-12 budget speech in the beginning of March. Governor Corbett did outline priorities such as is interest in changing the way education is provided, including pushing for tuition vouchers for students in public school districts that perform poorly. A few more priorities were outlined by Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who was sworn into office an hour earlier. Cawley said, “Make no mistake – jobs are our No. 1 priority. We will send a message that Pennsylvania is open for business.” He mentioned the huge potential for job creation in areas of the Commonwealth which contains large amounts of Marcellus Shale, holding natural gas. Around 150 protestors staged demonstrations a couple hundred feet from the Corbett swearing-in ceremony, calling for a moratorium on natural gas drilling, and increased protection of water supplies from chemicals associated with drilling into shale.