The Baker Era Begins In Massachusetts
Declaring it was time to write the next chapter in the history of the Commonwealth, Charlie Baker today became the 72nd governor of Massachusetts. The state also has a new lieutenant governor, an office that had been vacant for the last 19 months.
Baker put his hand on the family bible held by his wife Lauren, with their three children at his side, as State Senate President Stan Rosenberg administered the oath of office. It capped a political comeback for Baker and the return of a Republican to the state’s top elected office.
" It is with great humility and high honor that I assume the office of governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," said Baker.
In his first inaugural address, which lasted just under half-an-hour, Baker said his top priorities include building a job-creating economy, improving the state’s schools, revitalizing urban centers and confronting opiate addiction.
" We will challenge the status quo, " Baker declared. " We will try new approaches."
The new governor’s first challenge is to eliminate the deficit in the state budget that he inherited from the administration of Governor Deval Patrick. Baker said the size of the gap exceeds a half billion dollars.
" We look forward to working with House Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Rosenberg and members of both legislative branches to close this gap," said Baker, who added " There's no doubt we have to make difficult decisions."
Several times, Baker mentioned bipartisanship, but he may have set himself up for a collision with the Democratic-dominated legislature when he called for more charter schools.
Baker, who lost his first bid for governor in 2010 to Patrick—the state’s first African American governor—made it a point to campaign last year in minority neighborhoods. He said Thursday his administration will support the work of entrepreneurs and community leaders who have found ways to bring jobs to those neighborhoods.
Baker pledged his administration will be efficient, responsive, innovative, accountable and transparent.
The inauguration ceremony took place in the ornate House chamber in the Massachusetts Statehouse which was packed with scores of elected officials, family, and friends. Former Massachusetts Republican Governors William Weld, Jane Swift, and Mitt Romney were there to celebrate Baker’s inauguration.
Other prominent guests included former Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, and Rhode Island’s new governor Gina Raimondo, a Democrat.
Karen Polito was sworn in for a four-year term as Massachusetts lieutenant governor. She pledged to make state government work for everyone from Cape Cod to the Berkshires.
" Thank you for your trust and for bestowing this honor upon us. We won't let you down," said Polito.
Massachusetts has not had a lieutenant governor since Tim Murray resigned from the office in June 2013.
An inauguration celebration takes place Thursday evening at the Boston Convention Center.
Baker will be in the Worcester area Friday to highlight two job development programs and attend another inaugural party in the evening.
On Saturday, the new governor visits the Berkshires with a stop at MassMoCa in North Adams and the veteran’s housing development operated by the Soldier On organization in Pittsfield.