HELENA — Greg Gianforte was sworn in as Montana's 25th governor in Helena on Monday morning.
Before winning the governor's office, Gianforte represented Montana in the U.S. House and co-founded a successful software development company in Bozeman.
Gianforte ran on his business experience and said he will use those skills to boost the state economy and its historically low wages. He told MTN his top priority will be helping Montanans and the state's economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week he said he expects to announce new guidelines for fighting the coronavirus and indicated he could relax some of the restrictions put in place by the previous administration this week.
Gianforte is Montana's first Republican governor in 16 years and has strong GOP majorities in the Montana House and Senate.
When asked about legislative priorities, Gianforte said he’ll be focused on his Montana “comeback plan,” a 12-page outline of wide-ranging policies that emphasize business development in the state and fiscal and social conservatism.
Read the governor's inaugural address below:
To my wife, Susan, our sons, our daughter, and our entire family.
Your love, encouragement and support are the sole reasons I am standing here today.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you, and I love you.
I am proud to be sworn in today alongside Montana’s new lieutenant governor, Kristen Juras.
She has been more than a running mate. I consider her a friend.
She will be my partner in the governor’s office, and I am proud to serve with her.
To Governor Bullock, thank you for your cooperation during the transition and for your years of service to our state.
To Judge Knisely, thank you for traveling here today to administer the oath of office.
Since 2010, you have built a successful treatment court that helps people suffering with drug and alcohol addictions rebuild their lives and become productive members of our communities.
We look forward to building upon your outstanding work in Yellowstone County, ensuring those suffering with addiction throughout the state get the kind of treatment programs they need.
To Speaker Hertz, thank you for leading this ceremony and for your years of service in the Montana House of Representatives. The Senate is better for having you in it.
Most importantly, though, I want to thank Montanans from every corner of our state. You came together and turned out in record numbers to cast your ballots and make your voices heard.
I have been humbled by the outpouring of support I have received from Montanans of all political stripes. Montanans who are united by the idea that we can work together to realize Montana’s full and outstanding potential.
With you at the front of my mind and with a servant’s heart, I will work toward creating better opportunities for all Montanans.
I take the oath of office today, prepared to assume the duties you have entrusted with me with humility and a deep, abiding sense of duty.
I take the oath of office today, prepared to lead Montana’s comeback with the strong mandate you provided us – the largest margin for a first-term governor in a century.
I take the oath of office today with family in this great room and with Montanans throughout our great state.
With the grave challenges of the last year, Montanans have had to make sacrifices and do things differently.
You have changed how you celebrate holidays with your family, scaled down wedding ceremonies, and postponed many of your long-standing plans.
This inauguration ceremony is no different. There are no large crowds on the Capitol grounds. There are no celebrations.
It was important for me to do what you have had to do – do things differently than we have before.
The grave challenges of the last year – the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout – have left no Montanan untouched.
And let us not forget the nearly 1,000 Montanans who this virus has taken from us.
And yet, throughout the grave challenges of the last year, we have seen new heroes emerge.
Health care workers on the front line who care for patients, often quarantining themselves from their families to keep them safe and healthy.
First responders who have encountered more cries for help – from greater drug use to increased cases of domestic violence to a rise in child abuse – as a result of a pandemic-induced isolation.
Parents who have had to balance working their jobs -- to pay their mortgage and put food on the table -- with taking care of their children who are at home because schools and day care centers have been shut down.
Educators who have had to change entirely how they teach our kids – moving from in front of a classroom to in front of a computer screen.
Truckers who have kept our supply chains moving.
Grocery store clerks who have kept our shelves stocked.
The list goes on.
But what the last year has shown us all is that Montanans step up when crisis calls. Neighbors help neighbors.
And it is that resiliency that gives me hope and optimism.
I am confident, with vaccines and increased testing, we will get a better handle on our response to COVID-19.
I am confident our economy will rebound.
I am confident Montanans will get back to work in good-paying jobs.
I am confident we will recover.
I am confident that Montana will make our comeback.
Today’s inauguration sets a new course for Montana.
Today marks a new chapter in our history.
Today marks a new beginning for Montanans throughout our state, because the possibilities are as vast and our potential as boundless as our skies.
I am honored and humbled to stand before you here today as the 25th governor of the great state of Montana.
I remain dedicated today, just as I was yesterday and the day before that, to lead Montana’s comeback -- growing opportunities here in Montana, bringing the American dream into closer reach for more Montanans, and promoting greater prosperity in every corner of our state.
I want you to know that everything we do will be guided by our core principles.
First: Economic growth and more good-paying Montana jobs.
Montana has outstanding potential, but we haven’t been living up to it.
It’s one reason our kids and grandkids have become our biggest, and ultimately our costliest, export.
We have a strong workforce thanks to our education system – from our public schools to our trades education to our university system.
We must continue to empower our students and workers with accessible, affordable training and education.
We have two key elements that are the envy of other states.
One, Montanans have a strong work ethic.
And two, we enjoy an outstanding quality of life, particularly with our public lands and access to outdoor recreation and adventure.
Our environment for small businesses, however, must improve.
I am committed to making Montana more competitive by lowering taxes, cutting unnecessary red tape, and improving our infrastructure.
Today, let me say loudly and clearly to job creators, entrepreneurs, and business owners in our state and beyond: Montana is open for business.
Second: Fiscal responsibility.
For too long, state spending has grown out of control as taxpayers send more money to Helena. Its appetite has been insatiable.
We must provide essential services while living within our means and providing much needed tax relief to hardworking Montanans.
We must be better stewards of taxpayer money, and we must run our state government more efficiently.
We must change how state government does business.
We must make it more responsive and emphasize providing a better customer service experience to citizens.
We must also get state government off our backs and get its hands out of our pockets, so that we can get our economy going again, get Montana open for business, and get Montanans back to work in good-paying jobs.
Fourth: Protecting our way of life.
We must protect our communities and our families, particularly from crime and the epidemic of drug addiction that has touched too many Montanans.
We must protect our public lands, conserving them and increasing access to them for generations to come.
We must protect the rights enshrined in our constitution.
Ultimately, we do these things to protect our way of life for future generations.
While these core principles will guide me, I firmly believe there is more that unites us than divides us.
This is particularly true of Montanans. History bears that out.
That’s why I look forward to working with anyone – Democrat, Republican, or independent – who has a good idea.
Because I see Montana’s outstanding potential.
I see it in hardened hands and warm hearts of hardworking Montanans.
I see it in the smiles and hopefulness of our kids.
I see it in the charity and goodwill of our neighbors.
I see it in the splendor of our landscapes.
We have an opportunity to help Montana realize our full potential.
We must seize this opportunity and act.
To do so will require leadership. But no one leader can do this alone. It will require all of us to work together.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s work together to help Montana realize our full, outstanding potential.
Because together we can change Montana for the better. And together we will.
Today, we reflect on the last year. We begin this endeavor, this new chapter for Montana. And we seek guidance.
Our Founders understood the importance of seeking Providence.
In 1789, Congress requested President George Washington “recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
That October, in his first year as the first president of our fledgling nation, Washington established Thanksgiving, writing, “it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”
Today, I hold his wise words closely.
I hope you will join me in keeping our state and our country in our prayers.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the great state of Montana.