Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin promised to work hard for West Virginia during the next four years in his brief inaugural address Monday afternoon at the state capitol.
Tomblin hit on familiar themes during a cloudy, chilly day on the south side of the capitol. He talked about keeping the state’s fiscal house in order, paying off past debts, fighting with the federal government over coal and taking steps to address substance abuse in West Virginia.
The Logan County native and state’s 35th governor spent the majority of time focusing on the state’s education system. He didn’t tip his hand entirely because that’s expected to be the highlight of Tomblin’s State of the State Address on Feb. 13. But he did mention a few themes.
“We have hard-working teachers. Per capita our education funding ranks among the best in the nation. But on our most important metric, student achievement, we are falling behind,” Tomblin said. “It doesn’t need to be this way and it must stop.”
Tomblin added a world-class education is needed in West Virginia for its children to succeed. He touted early education efforts, vocational training, meaningful higher education training for teachers, teacher classroom support, giving students enough instructional time, education innovation and more parental involvement.
“It won’t happen overnight but we must give our students a better chance,” Tomblin said.
The governor also took time Monday to recognize the long service of U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, the struggles of 2012 experienced by state residents in the derecho and Superstorm Sandy along with the tragedy of the State Trooper deaths. He also mentioned the victims in the Newtown shootings.
Tomblin, first lady Joanne Tomblin and their son Brent walked down the south side capitol steps before he was sworn-in with “West Virginia Hills” playing in the background. Following his swearing-in the West Virginia Army National Guard performed a 19-gun salute.
Former governors Gaston Caperton, Bob Wise, members of the state’s congressional delegation, state lawmakers and members of the governor’s cabinet were also on hand.