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Gov. Baker Calls On Leaders To Find 'Courage To Set Partisanship Aside' In Inaugural Speech03:35
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Gov. Charlie Baker delivers his inaugural address Thursday at the State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gov. Charlie Baker delivers his inaugural address Thursday at the State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 4 years old.

Charlie Baker, the newly sworn-in 72nd governor of Massachusetts, is promising to challenge the status quo, while immediately tackling a state budget deficit.

And on his first day in office, the Republican managed to find some common ground with the Democrats who control the Legislature.

Tone Of Cooperation

It was so cold you could see Baker's breath as he stepped out of a car for his inauguration. He wasn't wearing gloves but still he shook hands with supporters in the frigid air before walking up the main State House steps.

Baker was welcomed with a 19-gun salute, and as he walked through the state's capitol building, supporters cheered and took cellphone photos.

Gov. Charlie Baker greets supporters before walking up the State House steps for his inauguration. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gov. Charlie Baker greets supporters before walking up the State House steps for his inauguration. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Baker made his way into the House chamber, where he put his left hand on a family Bible to be officially sworn in. His wife, Lauren, stood beside him as he recited the official verses.

The change of power in Massachusetts politics was clear. Sitting in the front were well-known Republicans, including former presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

But in his inaugural speech, Baker seemed eager to strike a tone of cooperation. After all, he was speaking to a Legislature that's overwhelmingly Democrat.

"We must have courage to set partisanship aside and embrace the best ideas and solutions no matter which side of the aisle they come from," he said.

And the Republican governor went out of his way to heap praise on two Democrats — John F. Kennedy and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

In his speech, Baker also talked about communities of color.

"The tragic events in Ferguson and New York speak loudly. And their message is a simple one — when people lose hope, bad things happen," he said.

Baker said he wants every community in the commonwealth to feel hopeful about the future.

He also offered some hints about his immediate policy priorities.

"If we're honest with ourselves, we can't blame this budget deficit on a lack of revenue. We have to recognize that this is a spending problem."

Gov. Charlie Baker

"I believe our actions will be heard in many ways," he said. "But the loudest of these actions will initially be in dealing with an immediate budget deficit, building a job-creating economy everywhere in Massachusetts, closing the achievement gap in education, confronting opiate addiction and revitalizing our urban centers."

That message resonated with the new Senate leader, Stan Rosenberg, who said Baker sounded like a governor ready to get to work with a Democratic Legislature.

"We're gonna find a lot of common ground based on that speech. There's a lot of things that we can work on together, a lot of agreement," Rosenberg said.

One of the first things they'll need to work on together is the budget, which Baker noted is a problem he's inheriting.

"History will record that a budget deficit exceeding half a billion dollars is being transferred to our administration," Baker said. "If we're honest with ourselves, we can't blame this budget deficit on a lack of revenue. We have to recognize that this is a spending problem."

A heckler shouted, "Blame it on the former governor."

Baker did not react, but insisted he will not raise taxes or cut local aid to balance budget.

Everything else, though, is fair game.

This segment aired on January 9, 2015.

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Asma Khalid formerly led WBUR's BostonomiX, a biz/tech team covering the innovation economy.

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