On Thursday, January 3, 2019 Governor Charlie Baker delivered his second inaugural address from the House Chamber of the Massachusetts State House. Here are the Governor’s full remarks as prepared for delivery:
Here are excerpts from Governor Baker’s speech:
“Think about the Commonwealth’s leadership on national issues.
“We have the highest rate of health care coverage in the nation. But the story was written across two decades, ten legislative sessions, five governors and four Presidents.
“We have best in the nation gun laws, a story that was written across multiple legislative sessions and several Governors and was almost always bipartisan.
“We have a K-12 education system that, despite its limitations, is the envy of the country.
“This story was written by a large cast of leaders and contributors across decades of deliberation and action.
“As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, we’re engaged in a number of difficult policy issues. Some will be with us long after our time on Beacon Hill is done.
“But it’s incumbent on us to pursue these tasks with foresight, intelligence and commitment, so that we can rest assured that when our time is done, those who come after us will be able to build on the foundation we’ve established.
“As I look forward, I’m grateful that we’re taking on difficult policy issues from a position of strength.
“Massachusetts no longer has a structural budget deficit. In fact, we ended last year with a major budget surplus. Deposited over $650 million into our Stabilization Fund. And anticipate making another major deposit to that Fund at the end of this fiscal year. And we did it without raising taxes.
“We delivered huge environmental benefits and lower energy prices. And now everybody wants to duplicate our process.
“Our regulatory reform project reduced the complexity of state government across the board, allowing our small businesses to become more competitive in a dynamic economy.
“And our ‘get stuff done’ approach with public private partnerships in economic development, advanced manufacturing, robotics and smart materials has created jobs and opportunity across the Commonwealth.
“As a result, our economy is booming.
“We have more people working than at any time in state history. Over 200,000 jobs have been created since we took office. Our labor force participation rate is at an all-time high. And people are moving to Massachusetts because we offer good jobs and opportunity.
“Thanks to the hard work of so many, the state of our Commonwealth is strong!
“By putting the public interest ahead of partisan politics, we’ve made our Commonwealth a better place to live for our residents. But there’s always much left to do.
“There’s also much to do in transportation.
“I’ll begin with a quick shout out to our Transportation Futures Commission. Predicting a future where there is so much possibility is difficult. They did great work and I want to highlight some of their recommendations.
“First, continue to invest in public transportation.
“This is an area in which the Commonwealth sat on its hands for far too many years and we’re all paying the price for it.
“Over the course of the next five years, the T plans to spend over $8 billion on infrastructure, much of which will be invested in its core system. This is more than twice what has ever been spent in any 5-year period.
“This will be no small task.
“One of the reasons previous administrations didn’t invest in the core system is the complexity of upgrading and modernizing a system that operates 20 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The constant tug between getting people where they need to go and disrupting that system to make it better is a big challenge. But it’s one that must be identified, scoped and overcome.
“The T also needs to leverage its automated fare system once it’s in place in 2020. For the first time, that system will give the T real time data on how its riders use the system. That creates huge opportunities to improve service. To think differently about fares, routes and pricing. And to modernize operations to better serve customers.
“Second, we must make the investments in public infrastructure that will enable the next generation of zero emission and autonomous vehicles to thrive here in the Commonwealth.
“Getting this right will require unprecedented collaboration with local government and our New England neighbors, as well as innovative partnerships with the private sector.
“Third, reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation system.
“The work we’re poised to do with other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states should produce a cap and investment system for transportation that mirrors our successful model for energy.
“It will create the largest program of its kind in US history.
“Finally, we need to more fully appreciate the relationship between where people live and where they work and how state and local government policies affect their ability to get from one to the other.
“I’ve spoken before about this housing crisis.
“For over 20 years, we’ve produced less than half the new units of housing that we produced like clockwork in the previous forty years.
“As a result, we have limited inventory. And the inventory we have gets priced out of sight, forcing people to live farther and farther away from where they work.
“I believe that our housing bill was a strong step in the right direction to deal with this. It respected the need for communities to plan for themselves, but created incentives to tie development more closely to overarching strategies concerning transportation and land use generally. In the end, it failed because it was too much for some and not enough for others.
“We shouldn’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
“Building a stronger, more equitable, more resilient and more successful Commonwealth rests on several pillars. But one of the most important ones is delivering a big increase in housing production. We need to get this done.
“Massachusetts is also a national leader in health care. We’re one of the healthiest states in the nation. And we have the highest rate of health care coverage.
“Our health care cluster is a wonder, economically and clinically. It’s constantly delivering solutions to some of the most urgent and challenging problems facing patients and their families.
“The flip side is the price we pay.
“Small businesses in Massachusetts have among the highest health insurance costs in the country. The price for the same medical service can vary by as much as 300% depending on where it’s provided.
“Our community hospitals continue to struggle. And, ironically, some of the Commonwealth’s rules make it tough to practice modern medicine.
“Later this year, we will file legislation to address these issues. By expanding the use of telemedicine, rethinking some of our scope of practice guidelines and dealing with the parity issues that have negatively affected individuals and families dealing with mental health issues.
“The fact that 351 cities and towns in this Commonwealth have worked with state government on over 800 best practices and now use that program to spread the word on other smarter ways to deliver services doesn’t make much news.
“The work we’ve done together to invest billions of dollars in housing, downtown and regional economic development and public/private partnerships in communities across the Commonwealth are stories that come and go.
“The 16,000 trees we’ve planted and thousands of LED lights we’ve installed with our colleagues in local government is just doing our job.
“Each day, the wheels turn, and when they turn well they build strong communities. Support great schools. Grow the economy. Clean up the environment. Promote justice. And give people a chance.
“Those wheels create hope, opportunity and possibility .
“Over the past four years, Lieutenant Governor Polito and I have heard time and time again that the way we all work together is a model for the nation.
“People like our collaborative approach to governing. And they say they’re proud to be from Massachusetts!
“And so am I!
“This state is bursting with talent, humor and decency. Boldness and common sense. Our abiding sense of patriotism, belonging and community has made us strong and has carried us forward for almost 400 years.
“Let others engage in cheap shots and low blows. Let’s make our brand of politics positive and optimistic, instead of cruel and dark.
“And instead of the bickering and name calling that dominates much of today’s public debate, let’s build on the work of those who came before us.
“And make our work about how we can make this great state better for the people who call this glorious place ‘home.’
“God Bless This Commonwealth.
“God Bless the United States of America.”