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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Charlie Baker sworn in as Massachusetts Governor

Charlie Baker was sworn in as governor of Massachusetts at the State House in Boston on Jan. 8. His inauguration speech remembered values of John F. Kennedy and highlighted four topics that he plans to focus on during his term: reversing the deficit, creating job growth, education reform, opiate addiction crisis, and the revitalization of urban centers. 

“The time has come to write the next chapter in the history of this great Commonwealth, to build on what makes us great, and get much better at what doesn’t,” he said.

After thanking his family and supporters, military service members, and law enforcement, Baker conveyed his intentions for his term.

The first focus involves the immediate budget deficit “exceeding half a billion dollars.” Baker favors frugal spending to help turn it around, but tax rates will stay the same.

“While there are efficiencies to be gained and structural changes to be made, there’s no doubt that we have to make difficult decisions,” said Baker, who as the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare cut jobs and implemented changes that lead to 24 consecutive profitable quarters. 

Citing a link between economic growth and sustainable and affordable energy, Baker criticized existing energy delivery systems. 

On the subject of creating jobs, he committed to reducing red tape and streamlining regulatory requirements on start-ups and established businesses. He hopes transparency will help relieve heavy healthcare costs weighing down businesses.

“The same service in the same neighborhood, with the same outcome can vary in price by as much as 300 percent. This must change.”

The second focus is education reform and raising the enrollment cap on free charter schools where in underprivileged areas academic performance has dramatically increased, while traditional public school counterparts lag in comparison. 

“As I speak, there are more than 45,000 Bay State kids and their parents on waiting lists for these [charter] schools.” 

The cap keeps charter school enrollment in a district remain below 18 percent of public school enrollment. When students make the switch to charter schools, they bring the government funding with them, and the budgets of public schools suffer. 

Charter schools have more freedom in who they hire and how they structure their academic curriculums. Competition between these schools drives further innovation. 

Last summer, Governor Patrick declared the state’s worsening opiate addiction problem a public health crisis.  

“It is an epidemic [that] cuts across every community in the Commonwealth,” said Baker about this third focus. He recounted an Easton teen who was driven by prescription addiction to the cheaper heroin, a drug that took his life. 

Baker did not elaborate on how he would combat the epidemic, but used the words “strong action.” 

The fourth focus will be revitalization of urban centers that don’t benefit from economic success, but contain “inspiring points of light” such as new Secretary of Business Development Nam Pham from VietAID of Dorchester, Robert Lewis Jr. from The BASE in Roxbury, and the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell.

These individuals and organizations have already “cracked the code” with their innovative approaches to revitalization. 

“When people lose hope, bad things happen,” he said, referencing the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of law enforcement officers. 

“To avoid the tragedies [like this] that make the front page, it’s imperative that we renew our commitment and re-double our efforts to provide everyone opportunity.” 

Baker devoted the rest of his speech to remembering, yet updating the values that John F. Kennedy believed success in public service was made of: courage, judgment, integrity, and dedication.  

“Courage [is] to set partisanship aside and to embrace the best ideas and solutions, no matter which side of the aisle they come from,” said the new Republican Governor of Massachusetts to the audience of mostly Democrats inside the State House.