Incoming governors’ inaugural festivities in tune with times

Cautious with taxpayers’ cash

California Gov.-elect Jerry Brown talks to reporters following a public discussion of the state budget on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. (AP Photo)California Gov.-elect Jerry Brown talks to reporters following a public discussion of the state budget on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. (AP Photo)
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From extravagant black-tie galas to a casual no-tie barbecue, gubernatorial inauguration events in the coming days will vary widely in cost, size and panache.

Most governors-elect and heads of states returning for another term have vowed to stage relatively simple affairs — a deference to the sluggish economy and high unemployment plaguing the country.

Incoming California Gov. Jerry Brown has planned a “no-frill, low-budget and low-key” inauguration schedule, highlighted by a modest reception Monday at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, Calif., after his swearing-in.

“The day’s events and inauguration will very much reflect the times we’re living in, which are frugal and lean,” said Brown spokesman Evan Westrup. “It’s also a reflection of Jerry Brown’s style of leadership and how important it is to lead by example.”

Mr. Brown’s office won’t say how much the events will cost, though news reports in the Golden State have put the price at under $100,000.

The biggest costs of the Democrat’s Inauguration Day will be for accommodating the media and “staging” issues, such as lights, sound systems and stage construction, Mr. Westrup said. Donations and donated services will cover a portion of the costs.

“Every expense is being examined closely — from food and staging, right on down to all of the other things that come with the event,” he said.

But Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott is taking a different approach. The Republican has scheduled about a dozen events next week in the state capital of Tallahassee to celebrate his introduction as Florida’s 45th governor.

Mr. Scott’s inauguration committee has raised at least $2.8 million in private donations for the festivities, which will include breakfasts, a parade, a military appreciation event and a tribute to his wife, Ann Scott.

As a prelude to his Tuesday swearing-in, Mr. Scott this week embarked on a seven-city “Forging a Path to Prosperity Appreciation Tour,” designed to “bring the inauguration of Florida’s 45th governor to cities across the state.”0

Scott spokeswoman Erin Isaac said no taxpayer money will be spent on inauguration events. Any extra proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to wounded military veterans.

Many of Florida’s inauguration events are free and open to the public, including the parade and the swearing-in ceremony at the Old Capitol. Floridians also are invited to the inauguration ball at Tallahassee’s 13,800-seat civic center, provided they pay $95.

Outgoing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent, decided against holding a ball four years ago as the state’s economy began to sour. Florida now faces a projected $3.5 billion budget shortfall. And its 12 percent unemployment is among the nation’s highest.

The Scott camp and the Florida Chamber of Commerce estimate the inauguration will provide a $4.5 million boost for the state’s economy.

Despite the large scale of Mr. Scott’s inauguration events, most Floridians haven’t objected because private donations are covering the bills, said University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus.

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