Gov.-Elect Baker To Meet With President Obama

Gov. Charlie Baker has a 58 percent approval rating among Boston voters, a WBUR poll finds. (Charles Krupa/AP)
Gov. Charlie Baker has a 58 percent approval rating among Boston voters, a WBUR poll finds. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Republican Gov.-elect Charlie Baker is gearing up for a daylong trip to the White House on Friday where he's scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama.

Baker told The Associated Press on Thursday that at first he thought that all 50 governors would be invited to the event but later realized it included only five or six newly elected governors.

Baker said he expects to discuss a range of issues with the president and other top administration officials.

"I'm assuming a big part of this is going to be about federal-state relations, about national security," Baker said. "I would assume we'll also probably spend time talking about health care, the Affordable Care Act. We'll probably end up spending time talking about education and a few other things like that."

During the campaign Baker said he'd seek a waiver from the federal Affordable Care Act if elected.

On Thursday he said he still wanted to make sure that Massachusetts - the state that provided the blueprint for the federal health care law - be given the "elbow room" it needs to chart its own course on health care.

"I think it's really important that Massachusetts retain as much flexibility as we possibly can around these programs. I worry a lot about having them dictated by people who don't know much of anything about how health care works on the ground here in Massachusetts," Baker told the AP.

But Baker said he didn't expect to raise the issue of a health care waiver directly with Obama, adding it "it feels more to me like a staff-to-staff or a governor-to-staff conversation than a president-to-governor conversation."

Baker said he feels the same way about federal education mandates.

"I worry a lot about the federal government driving the train on that one, too," Baker said.

Baker also said his top three priorities during his first 100 days in office are building a great management team, overhauling the state's code of regulations and closing an estimated $329 million budget gap.

Baker won the governor's race last month, defeating Democrat Martha Coakley.

Baker will take the oath of office in early January, replacing two-term Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.

Patrick, who grew up in Chicago, was a friend and political confidante of Obama and was a vocal supporter of the president during both his campaigns.

Associated Press writer Bob Salsberg contributed to this report.


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