VIDEO: Brownback sworn in as 46th Kansas Governor

Rebecca Zepick / State of the State KS

Republican Sam Brownback was sworn in as the 46th Governor of Kansas Monday as members of the Potawatomi Nation sang and cannons fired a 19 shot salute.

Brownback said that Kansas was born on hope and would overcome the economic challenges facing the state.

“Our challenges should be well known to us—nearly 100,000 of our people actively seek gainful employment and cannot find it,” said Brownback. “Our public finances strain under the weight of commitments beyond our present means.  Our families and social fabric fray against the crassness of modernity. Yet we have known worse and overcome more,” Brownback continued.

A number of other officials we sworn in including the Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, State Treasurer and Secretary of State.

The Kansas legislature kicked off the new session on Monday as well, swearing in new members and Senate President Stephen Morris said that while the state was facing a $550 million budget shortfall with no easy decisions, he was hopeful that the economy would improve in the new year.

“I guess I need to be somewhat optimistic for the next few months,” Morris said. “I would like to see the revenue picture improve. The December numbers were positive in a way because individual income tax numbers were actually up and that has been one area where we’ve been down in, significantly, over the year and a half, two years.”

In the House, Speaker Mike O’Neil took over a newly invigorated conservative House and said it was a year for history making legislation.

“We’ve been burdened with yet another huge financial challenge and I’ve made no secret of my disappointment of how that challenge has been addressed the past two years,” said O’Neal. “However our constituents have handed us a huge opportunity to fundamentally change the way we approach the budget and the financial challenges we still have.”

Democratic House Minority Leader Paul Davis quoted outgoing Governor Mark Parkinson saying that in the face of the greatest recession since the Great Depression, legislators had a chance to build on educational and social services that make Kansas a leader.

“We have the opportunity to astonish them,” said Davis. “The decisions you can make will mean that not only did we fight back, not only did we protect what our ancestors built, but while everyone else was in a panic, we moved forward.”

Brownback was sworn in the House chamber instead of on the steps of the State capitol because of snow, something that has not been done since the 1890′s. Brownback is scheduled to deliver the State of the State address in the House chamber in Topeka on Wednesday night at 6:30 PM.