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Gov. Baker thanks Massachusetts residents in farewell address

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Outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker delivering a virtual farewell address.
Mass Gov. Charlie Baker/WAMC screenshot
Outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker delivering a virtual farewell address.

As he prepares to leave office Thursday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker delivered a farewell address Tuesday.

Long the nation’s most popular governor according to polls, Republican Charlie Baker decided not to run for a third term in 2022 as his rift with the state GOP grew.

On Tuesday, he delivered a farewell address on Beacon Hill, thanking Massachusetts residents for entrusting him over the last eight years.

“First, I hope you'll join me in wishing Governor-elect Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor-elect Kim Driscoll all the success in the world. It's been a pleasure to work with them these past few months.” Baker said. “Now, after eight sometimes crazy years as your governor, I thought I should take a few minutes to deliver what my late mom would have called a proper goodbye. This one comes with mixed emotions.”

Baker listed some accomplishments from his tenure in the 6-minute speech.

“We took a billion dollar budget deficit turned it into a $5 billion surplus and gave $3 billion back to taxpayers and put $7 billion into the state's rainy day fund,” he said. “We brought broadband access to Western Mass. so kids could research homework, parents could work from home, and businesses could grow and succeed there. We delivered major infrastructure projects long promised but never done. We passed the first major housing reform bill in decades so we can finally do something about the cost of owning a home. And we did it all without partisan bickering.”

The governor also highlighted his administration’s efforts to reach beyond Boston.

“Lieutenant Governor [Karyn] Polito visited and met with local officials and community leaders in all 351 cities and towns, many more than once since taking office. I got to more than 250. Both of us were amazed by the creativity, decency and shared sense of purpose that we saw everywhere we went,” he said. “Despite a myriad of political fights and distractions that were raging all around us, people here chose to focus on the work and it paid off. The personal and professional generosity from the Berkshires to Cape Cod and every place in between was always there. We were there too in the front row, watching it and appreciating it for eight cherished years.”

As Baker prepares to make way for outgoing Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, the 66-year-old is not heading for retirement on the beach. In December, the NCAA announced Baker will be its next president, replacing Mark Emmert as the head of the largest college sports governing body in the country.

Baker, who played basketball at Harvard, will start the job in March. Emmert is stepping down after 12 years of leading the NCAA through a tumultuous time, as it has faced challenges to its structure and from student-athletes. The selection did raise some eyebrows since Baker lacks sports administration experience.

Before winning the race for governor in 2014, Baker had been CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and was in the cabinet under Republican Governors Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci.

Matt Murphy covers Beacon Hill for State House News.

“He projects as someone who really cares about this job, and I think he does, and I think that’s why people like him,” Murphy said. “But that said, he’s certainly accomplished a great deal, but there are also some things left undone, notably the T, the MBTA transportation problems that persist, and some of these issues are going to trickle over to the new administration.” :23

Baker’s farewell address comes during a week of ceremony.

Wednesday afternoon, Baker and outgoing Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito will exchange state symbols with Healey and Lieutenant Governor-elect Kim Driscoll, before Baker completes his “lone walk” out of the state house.

Healey and Driscoll are scheduled to be sworn in Thursday at 11:30.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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