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Newly sworn-in Gov. Charlie Baker struck a bipartisan tone in his inaugural address, but the Republican also made it clear that he believes the state has "a spending problem," referencing a budget deficit that will be an early test for his administration.
"If we’re honest with ourselves then we can’t blame our deficit on a lack of revenue," he said. "We have to recognize that this is a spending problem.” He said he'd “hold the line on taxes.”
He then pivoted off the deficit to lay out his initial priorities.
"Our actions will be heard in many ways. But the loudest of these actions will initially be in dealing with an immediate budget deficit, building a job-creating economy, closing the achievement gap, confronting opiate addiction and revitalizing our urban centers."
Baker thanked the outgoing governor, Deval Patrick, for his eight years of service, but stated plainly: "We’re nowhere near our full potential."
Baker lauded Lawrence public schools, which are under state receivership, for their turnaround, and added that "traditional public schools will always be the backbone," but said the state needs "more high-performing public charters in underperforming districts."
Speaking to a packed House chamber at the State House, the governor received perhaps the loudest applause for his pledge to "tackle the problem [of opiate addiction] head on."
The Republican was noted throughout his campaign for appearing in traditionally Democratic strongholds. In his address, he spoke about the need to foster economic development and safety in all Massachusetts communities.
After citing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, he said: "I want every community to be a place where people believe tomorrow is going to be better than today.”
In a nod to working with a Democratic Legislature, Baker closed by saying, "Only by working together will we make Massachusetts great."
Read Baker's full remarks here. See below for live updates from his inauguration.
Update at 1:21 p.m.: In closing, the new governor said, "we must have courage to set partisanship aside," then said: "Only by working together will we make Massachusetts great."
Update at 1:18 p.m.: Baker then turned to fostering economic development and safety in all Massachusetts communities:
Baker cites Ferguson and NYC unrest, saying "when people lose hope, bad things happen"
— Asma Khalid (@asmamk) January 8, 2015
He then added: "I want every community to be a place where people believe tomorrow is going to be better than today."
Update at 1:14 p.m.: Echoing Deval Patrick, Baker called opiate addiction "a public health crisis." He added: "I intend to tackle this problem head on."
Update at 1:12 p.m.: After citing a "renaissance" underway in Lawrence public schools, which are under state receivership, he said:
Baker: Traditional public schools will always be the backbone, but we need more high-performing public charters in underperforming districts — Abby E. Conway (@aelizabeth) January 8, 2015
Update at 1:10 p.m.: On the deficit, he said: "If we're honest with ourselves then we can't blame our deficit on a lack of revenue. We have to recognize that this is a spending problem."
He then pledged to "hold the line on taxes."
Update at 1:06 p.m.: Baker laid out his initial priorities:
Our actions will be heard in many ways. But the loudest of these actions will initially be in dealing with an immediate budget deficit, building a job-creating economy, closing the achievement gap, confronting opiate addiction and revitalizing our urban centers.
He also made this clear: "History will record that a budget deficit exceeding half a billion dollars is being transferred to my administration."
Update at 1:03 p.m.: After thanking his family and Deval Patrick for his years of service, Gov. Baker said in his inaugural speech, "We're nowhere near our full potential," citing "dozens of lapses in performance that are frustrating for many."
He then credited the late Boston Mayor Thomas Menino: "He believed that government was about high ideals. But he also equally believed that basic services mattered and that every detail counted."
Update at 12:54 p.m.: FYI:It is done. pic.twitter.com/h3ffn6aRRE
— Nate Goldman (@NateGoldman) January 8, 2015
Here's how the social media transition went down.
Update at 12:53 p.m.: "We commit to work tirelessly in a bipartisan way with focus and a refusal to accept failure so that every child and every parent in Massachusetts will have the opportunity to realize their dreams," Polito said in her inaugural address.
Update at 12:37 p.m.: Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito has now been sworn in as well.
Update at 12:33 p.m.:JUST IN: Gov. Charles Baker is sworn in as Massachusetts' 72nd governor. — WBUR (@WBUR) January 8, 2015
Update at 12:04 p.m.: "I'm pretty excited, but of course I'm nervous," Baker told The Associated Press as he walked into the State House.
Our live coverage on WBUR-FM is underway, by the way.
Update at 11:40 a.m.: A few notable Republicans are in the House chamber, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, former Gov. Bill Weld and....@MittRomney just slipped into the house chamber. #mapoli
— Steve Brown (@WBURSteve) January 8, 2015
Update at 11:10 a.m.: The governor-elect has just arrived at the State House:Charlie Baker greets supporters before walking up the statehouse steps #mapoli pic.twitter.com/LeWDnW8aoc — Asma Khalid (@asmamk) January 8, 2015
After noon Thursday, Charlie Baker will be sworn in as the 72nd governor of the commonwealth.
Thursday morning, Baker met with lawmakers at a reception at Suffolk University before heading to the State House for the swearing-in and his inaugural address.
Former Govs. William Weld and Mitt Romney, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are expected to attend the official ceremony.
An inaugural reception will be held Thursday night at the Boston Convention Center.
On Wednesday night, Baker invited the top donors to his inaugural celebration to a private party, where they could meet with the governor-elect and members of his cabinet.
Baker also held a pre-inauguration prayer service at a Roxbury church.
After eight years in office, Gov. Deval Patrick took the outgoing governor's traditional "lone walk" out of the State House Wednesday evening, after meeting with Baker inside.
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