Josh Shapiro Inauguration

Gov. Josh Shapiro takes the oath of office on Jan. 17, 2023 in Harrisburg.

(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s 48th governor, Democrat Josh Shapiro, vowed brighter days ahead after taking the oath of office on a gray Tuesday afternoon at the state capitol in Harrisburg.

“You, the good people of Pennsylvania, will always be my north star,” he said as he described his “covenant” to keep the promises he made on the campaign trail: to leave the state “better off” than it was before.

“That is our deal,” he said.

Shapiro, the state’s former attorney general, ascended into office by a double-digit margin in November. He courted a bipartisan coalition of donors that helped him amass a $51 million war chest, which he used to paint Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano as a conservative extremist.

In his inaugural address, Shapiro reiterated similar sentiments he used on the campaign trail. He congratulated voters for rejecting “bigotry and hatred” and promised to shepherd them all – including the 2.2 million residents who didn’t vote for him – into a brighter era.

“You see, in every chapter of this Pennsylvania story, we got better,” he said. “We got stronger. We got more tolerant. Our story is one of progress and prosperity, and today we come together under the banner of this new administration to write our next chapter with a keen understanding of our history and the voices that will guide our future.”

Maintaining unity will look different this time as Shapiro finds his footing with a divided legislature that claims dueling priorities and no simple solution in sight.

Former Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf spent two terms negotiating with strong Republican majorities in both chambers. For the first time in more than a decade, Democrats are poised to regain control – albeit narrow – in the House, and have the ability to advance the legislative priorities that Republicans have long ignored.

The fate of millions in federal pandemic funds hangs in the balance, as well as controversial social policies – from abortion access to election reform – that have long divided both parties.

Shapiro, himself, was a Democrat in the lower chamber the last time the party held a majority in 2006. It’s experience that Democratic leaders said will serve him well as governor.

Republican leaders in the Senate and House released statements Tuesday congratulating Shapiro while hoping for compromise on policies that lower the tax burden, cut “bureaucratic red tape,” “empower” the education system and “unleash our energy potential.”

Regional Editor

Christen joins The Center Square as its Pennsylvania News Editor and brings with her more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues from all angles. She’s a Pennsylvania State University alumna and has been published in the The Washington Examiner, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, RealClear and Broad+Liberty, among others.