Governors-Elect Plan Low-Budget Inaugural Celebrations

By: - December 10, 2010 12:00 am

As a nod to the state of the economy and the condition of state budgets, many governors are celebrating the start of their new terms on the cheap. According to the Chicago Tribune Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says his inauguration will be “frugal.” The New York Post quotesNew York Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo describing his as “austere.” In California , Jerry Brown ‘s inauguration will be “low-key,” his spokesman told the San Francisco Chronicle . Michigan ‘s Rick Snyder , Colorado ‘s John Hickenlooper and Maine ‘s Paul LePage all have sent similar signals. By limiting their celebrations, the governors-elect seem intent on sending the message that they will oppose fiscal extravagance in office-even though inaugural events often are financed with private money.

Last year, the Democrats who controlled the Ohio House of Representatives opposed a plan to place legislative and congressional redistricting in the hands of a bipartisan commission. They wanted to do the job themselves. Then the elections happened. Republicans were handed majorities in both houses of the legislature and control of every state constitutional office-bringing them the power to redraw both legislative and congressional districts without Democratic input. So how did Democrats respond? By proposing a bipartisan commission. They tried to create one in the recent lame duck legislative session. They were rebuffed by Republicans, the Columbus Dispatch reports, even though many Ohio Republicans had supported the idea before the election. “This could have been passed at any time if your side of the aisle elected to do so,” Republican Rep. Robert Mecklenborg told the Dispatch , chiding his Democratic colleagues. “You elected to roll the dice.”

Indiana lawmakers are set to consider a broad set of changes to K-12 education, including compensating teachers based on student achievement, the Indianapolis Star reports . The plans are supported by Governor Mitch Daniels and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett , both of whom are Republicans. Teachers’ unions have reacted warily to the proposals because they could upend collective bargaining agreements. But the changes will have a better chance next year than in the past because Republicans won control of the Indiana House. (They already controlled the Senate). Besides merit pay, the proposals include a provision allowing a majority of parents at a school to petition for state intervention, and another offering college scholarships to students who graduate early from high school.

A month ago, Doug McKillip was chosen by colleagues to be the second-ranking Democrat in the Georgia House of Representatives. Today, he’s a Republican, the Athens Banner-Herald reports . In the elections, Republicans expanded their already solid majorities in the Georgia legislature, and that has prompted Democratic lawmakers such as McKillip to reassess their party affiliations. McKilliip, who comes from Athens, is the sixth  Democratic legislator in the state to switch parties since the election. His move surprised Georgia lawmakers, not only because he’d just been elected Democratic caucus chair, but also because he wasn’t known for taking conservative stands on most issues.  “As an independent-minded Republican, I can accomplish a great deal for my constituents and my city,” McKillip said, according to the Banner-Herald

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Josh Goodman

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and place-based economic development programs as part of Pew’s state fiscal health project. Goodman has served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives.