"Choices have to be made and difficult decisions taken. At this stage of my life, I have not come here to embrace delay or denial," said Democrat Jerry Brown, who, at 72, became California's oldest governor.
In Wisconsin, the Republican upstart Scott Walker promised a leaner state government that "will do only what is necessary — no more, no less." Walker immediately called a special session to follow through on his budget recommendations.
In Minnesota, Democrat Mark Dayton vowed to deliver a budget solution "that will be reasonable, balanced — and painful — because I see no easy alternative."
New governors also took office Monday in Nevada and Wyoming. Six more states — Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont — will have new chief executives by the end of the week.
In a story reflecting on what it calls the " pity party " of new governors' inaugural speeches, The Wall Street Journal notes that it is not unusual for new chief executives to take note of existing fiscal problems before they get to work.
"If you're a new governor with a big budget hole to fill, it helps to make sure voters know early on that things were really, really bad when you took over," the paper writes. "You don't want them to blame you for the spending cuts and tax increases that you will probably need to make during your term."