They Solemnly Swear

Jennifer Granholm took the oath of office Wednesday as Michigan's first female governor, calling the milestone "a great message for our daughters and our sons."

Former Clinton administration Cabinet member Bill Richardson was sworn in as governor of New Mexico, outlining proposals to save money and increase teachers' pay. And George Pataki was inaugurated to his third term as governor of New York, calling for unity and nonpartisanship to overcome the "historic, grave and daunting" economic problems facing the state.

In her inaugural address, Granholm referred to her groundbreaking election in calling on her constituents to serve their communities.

"I stand before you as living proof that the door is open to every single one of you in this room. Any one of us can run for office, and every one of us can elect to serve this Michigan family," she said in Lansing.

Earlier in the day, after an interfaith church service, she called her election "a great message for our daughters and our sons that everybody can be governor, and it doesn't matter what your characteristics are."

Granholm, who had been the state's attorney general the past four years, said the first job of her administration will be tackling a budget deficit that could approach $2 billion in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. She has to present a spending plan for that budget to lawmakers by mid-March.

Richardson outlined several policy specifics, including a proposal for a 6 percent increase in teacher salaries next year. He also said his administration would immediately begin performance audits of all state agencies to identify potential budget savings.

During his campaign, Richardson outlined a broad agenda that ranged from a reduction in the state's personal income tax and elimination of the tax on groceries to tougher penalties for drunken driving. However, Richardson began his four-year term confronting an uncertain financial outlook as New Mexico's economy is producing only modest growth in tax revenues.

"Do not judge me on my promises," Richardson said. "Judge me on my results."

At Albany, N.Y., Pataki also faces fiscal problems, both from the national recession and from the aftereffects of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Today, 16 months after the attacks, the dust has long since settled, the fires have been extinguished, the rubble is gone," Pataki said. "And yet, the challenge isn't over; we still face a crisis."

"Make no mistake, the challenges before us are the most difficult our generation has ever faced," the 57-year-old Republican said.

Pataki gave no hint of how he proposes to cover revenue shortfalls estimated at up to $10 billion over the rest of the 2002-03 fiscal year and in fiscal 2003-04, which begins on April 1. He has said he'll get into those details during his State of the State address on Jan. 8 and in his budget proposal, due by Feb. 1.