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In his final State of the Commonwealth address, Baker calls for tax cuts

Governor Charlie Baker (R-MA) delivered his final State of the Commonwealth address on January 25, 2022 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.
Paul Tuthill
screenshot from mass.gov
Governor Charlie Baker (R-MA) delivered his final State of the Commonwealth address on January 25, 2022 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

Speech highlighted progress in recovery from COVID restrictions

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker delivered his final State of the Commonwealth address Tuesday night.

The Republican governor, who is in the final year of his final term, used his eighth and final big speech to preview a series of tax breaks to help low income people and others cope with the high costs of living in Massachusetts.

“Because Massachusetts families deserve a break,” Baker said.

In the budget he’ll submit to the legislature this week, Baker will propose doubling the tax credit for children and dependents, giving renters and senior citizens a larger income tax break, and eliminating the state income tax completely for the lowest-paid 230,000 wage-earners in the state.

“We’ve asked the people of Massachusetts to do a lot these last few years. And it's time to invest in our families and to give them back some of the tax revenue that they created through their hard work,” Baker said.

Baker, who announced last month that he would not run for an unprecedented third consecutive term, said he does not intend to be a lame-duck in his final year.

“When I think about what I'll miss most come this time next year, there will be these opportunities to continue to partner with so many of the great people in this room, and with the great people across this amazing state who want nothing more than to leave it better than they found it for those who come after that. We have a responsibility to do just that for the next 12 months. Let's get to work,” Baker said.

Along with the new tax cuts he’s proposing, Baker called on the Democratic-dominated legislature to pass bills he’s already filed on energy, keeping dangerous criminals locked up until trial, and closing a loophole in domestic violence statutes that lets people get away with so-called “revenge porn” – when an ex-partner makes public intimate photos or videos.

“Now Massachusetts is one of only two states that doesn't treat this as a crime,” Baker said. “48 other states treat this as a crime because it is a crime.”

Baker said his administration is readying a transportation bond bill to get projects in the queue for funds from the federal bipartisan infrastructure law.

He highlighted the progress Massachusetts has made since the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions in 2020. The state has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country and the economy is recovering.

“Our unemployment rate is below 4% for the first time since March of 2020 and we've gained back over half a million jobs,” Baker said. “And because of all you've done we can stand here together tonight and I can say that the state of our Commonwealth remains strong.”

Because the Massachusetts State House remains closed to the public due to the pandemic, Baker delivered his address in the ballroom at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

Baker called for a standing ovation for the people in healthcare, food services, emergency responders, and others who went to work in-person during the pandemic and for the members of the Massachusetts National Guard who have been deployed to help out in hospitals, schools, vaccination clinics and testing sites.

It would not be a Charlie Baker speech without an appeal for bipartisan cooperation and an end to political divisiveness.

“At a time when so much of our public dialogue is designed to destroy trust, to manipulate facts and to pull people apart. We've partnered with one another and shared success and blame along the way. We should continue to focus on building and maintaining positive collaborative relationships because they work for the people we serve. And it's what most voters expect from us.”

Baker warned that social media and the presence of hundreds of platforms for distributing information had made it nearly impossible for people in public life who want to collaborate and build trust.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.