Governor Dan McKee’s Inaugural Address

Published on Tuesday, January 03, 2023

My fellow Rhode Islanders, it is a great honor to address you today as I begin my first full term as Governor of a state I love.

As you might have seen in my television commercials this past year – family is very important to me. And I’m glad to have them here with me today: my wife Susan, my daughter Kara, my son Matt, my daughter-in-law Laura, as well as my brothers and sisters and many of my nieces and nephews.

And – as the Governor who lives with his mother – I want to thank my mom Willa. I’m so grateful that she’s able to be here with us in person today.

And today, I’m also thinking about my dad who’s not with us anymore. To keep his memory with us for this special day, I have his office chair with me on stage. I’m also thinking about Susan’s parents, Joe and Esther.

Behind us you’ll also see the flags of all 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island. This is a reminder to all of us here on the stage of who we were elected to represent. It reminds us that every community in our state is important and so are the unique and diverse communities that make up our cities and towns.

When I gave my last inauguration speech, Rhode Island was facing a very different set of challenges stemming from a once-in-a-generation public health crisis. Challenges like we’ve never seen before.

I stood before you and made a commitment that, together, we would get shots in arms, get Rhode Islanders back to work, get teachers and students fully back in the classroom, and get our economy moving again.

I asked for your help because I knew it would take all of us, playing as one team, to get it done. As a former coach, I was proud to see our state’s teamwork in action.

As we all saw, Rhode Island stepped up when it mattered most. Together, we acted with persistence, strength, determination, community and kindness. We reached the highest vaccination rate in the nation, the lowest unemployment rate in our state’s history, the fastest economic recovery in the Northeast, and our kids got fully back to school safely and quickly.

Reminding ourselves of that success is important because it shows that when we work together as one team, we can accomplish what we set out to do. Our past success reminds us of the enormous and exciting potential for our state’s future.

And now, as one team, we must continue the momentum that we’ve built together.

Rhode Island, this is our time.

This is our moment. It’s our turn. And I need your help to make sure we make the most of it. Each and every Rhode Islander has a role to play in this next chapter – and as Governor, I’m asking you to do the work with us.

The good news is, we’re not starting from scratch. We have momentum.

We’re bringing offshore wind to East Providence. We’re building a new State Health Lab in Providence. We’re investing in our world-class fisheries in Galilee. We opened a new education center in Woonsocket. We’re making crucial investments in Quonset. We’re delivering historic tax relief to families. We’re saving Superman and breathing new life into downtown Pawtucket.

And we’re just getting started.

Over the next four years – my team and I will be focused on what matters most to the future of our state, what matters to the families of our state.

And to begin that work, we’re starting with our RI 2030 plan and these three goals:

First: raising incomes for Rhode Islanders in all 39 cities and towns. And when I say raising incomes, I mean investing in all of us and ensuring Rhode Islanders have the skills to get good-paying jobs.

Second: raising education outcomes for our children to reach Massachusetts levels by 2030. We must be all-in on improving education because that is the key to the long-term economic future of our state.

And finally: creating a healthier Rhode Island where we reduce chronic illness and improve health outcomes.

Before I wrap up, I want to share a story from someone I admire quite a bit – John Wooden, a basketball coach and player. The story goes like this:

There was a family that was moving to a small town and they stopped at the local gas station in the small town they were considering moving to.

The family asked the gas station attendant, “What kind of people live around here?”

The attendant said, “What kind of people live back where you’re from?”

The family said, “They’re ornery, mean and dishonest!”

The gas station attendant answered, “Well sir, you’ll find the people around here just like that as well.”

A few weeks later, another family stopped by the gas station and asked the same question.

“Excuse me sir, I’m thinking of moving to this town. Can you tell me what kind of people live around here?”

Again, the gas station attendant said, “Well, what kind of people live back where you’re from?”

The man replied, “I find the people where we live to be kind, decent and honest.”

The gas station attendant said, “Sir, you’ll find the people around here just like that too.”

The reason I tell this story is that it reminds us of something important – you often get exactly what you’re looking for.

Most Rhode Islanders are just like that second family at the gas station. We want to look for the best in this state. We want to look for the best in our fellow Rhode Islanders. And sometimes, looking for the best and seeing the best in what’s around us is half the battle.

One thing is clear to me as I look out into this room today: we have a tremendous opportunity to build a new Rhode Island.

A new Rhode Island where we succeed together by lifting each other up and helping everyone to do and achieve their best. It won’t be easy – but I know Rhode Island is up for the task.

Each and every Rhode Islander has a role to play in this next chapter – and as Governor, I’m asking you to join the team. It’s like my dad would say: “Success is there for you, all you have to do is earn it.”

I believe my dad was right. So let’s work hard, earn that success, and see the best in Rhode Island’s future. Let’s stay focused – not on what divides us, but what makes us stronger and what brings Rhode Islanders together.

I am humbled by the challenges before us, but I’ve never believed more strongly in our state’s future.

Rhode Island, this is our time. Our moment to shine. Our turn to raise everyone up. Now let’s get started.

God bless you, God Bless Rhode Island.