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    The Argument

    Will Charlie Baker improve Massachusetts?

    William H. Ryan, chairman, Haverhill Republican City Committee.

    YES

    William H. Ryan

    Chairman, Haverhill Republican City Committee

    It’s an honor to say that the recent election of Charlie Baker for governor and Karen Polito for lieutenant governor came as a result of a coalition of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats that put Massachusetts’ future ahead of political interests. Governor-elect Baker has already demonstrated his independence by appointing qualified people regardless of political party.

    Baker has the background, experience, and education that no other Massachusetts governor has had in recent times. He understands that we need to educate our citizens to be the best in the world if we are to succeed. He understands it is not always the amount of money that we tax, but it is how we spend it. Baker understands that if he does not include every citizen in his cause, then Massachusetts will not succeed to its fullest potential.

    Massachusetts Republicans want what everyone else wants, an honest and transparent government with a local aid formula that our cities and towns can depend on; a modern and dependable transportation system that will include the expansion of the MBTA and commuter rail; as well as strong support for public and private higher education; our world-class hospitals; research and development centers; preserving our history; and protecting our environment.

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    The Massachusetts Republican Party is very proud of its role in nominating and helping to elect Charlie Baker as our next governor. We believe that he has the same values, commitment, and backbone of our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. Baker will proactively tackle the most difficult issues that our state and country face with an emphasis on ending racism and gender inequality, protecting marriage equality for all Massachusetts citizens, and protecting a women’s right to choose.

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    Baker is extremely positive and will bring our state together, uniting as one. He will be a friend of organized labor. He has already demonstrated that with his appointment of his secretary of labor [Ronald L. Walker II], who has a record of fairness. All our state employees can be assured that the Baker/Polito team will respect their commitment to public service.

    Unfortunately, Governor-elect Baker will not enjoy the overwhelming support that our present Democratic governor has in the Legislature and in the Governor’s Council. Massachusetts voters voted for a Republican governor, then failed to give him the tools to do the job. Currently, there are only six Republicans out of 40 state senators and only 34 Republicans out of 160 state representatives. It takes one third to sustain a veto. On the eight-member Governor’s Council, there is only one Republican.

    I believe Baker will need an extremely strong citizen lobby to get any reforms accomplished. That will require all of us to keep the pressure on our local legislators to support reforms put forth by Baker.

    On a positive note, Massachusetts definitely got it right, Governor-elect Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito will work together and they will work hard to make Massachusetts great!

    Bill Taylor, Haverhill, Member of Progressive Massachusetts.

    NO

    Bill Taylor, Haverhill

    Member of Progressive Massachusetts

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    During his campaign, Governor-elect Charlie Baker promised to smartly reform government spending, reduce the supposed culture of dependency and abuse in the welfare system, and never, ever raise taxes. He argued that his experiences in the Weld and Cellucci administrations and private sector made him uniquely qualified to deliver on those promises and tackle the state’s most pressing, complex issues.

    But tackling these issues takes much more than flimsy campaign rhetoric, and his track record as a policymaker suggests that he won’t be up to the task.

    Perhaps the state’s most pressing, complex issue is its rising homelessness and lack of affordable housing. Presently, the state’s emergency assistance program is overwhelmed, and it shelters over 1,600 families in hotels at high cost. On his campaign website, Baker described himself as “an advocate for homeless individuals and families in Massachusetts” as a member of the Weld/Cellucci Administration. He noting the number of families sheltered in hotels was reduced to zero.

    But housing advocates in the state say those administrations’ steep cuts to long-term housing assistance, such as the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, largely caused the sharp increases since in both homelessness and spending on the emergency assistance program. Instead of the reforms Baker proposes, what’s needed is increased funding for long-term support programs that keep families in their homes.

    But therein lies the rub: when a government’s funding is constrained by a no new taxes pledge, it’s often rendered ineffective. This is a lesson Baker should have learned — but apparently did not — during his tenure as Secretary of Administration and Finance in the tax-averse Cellucci administration, when he borrowed heavily to cover the Big Dig’s cost overruns. As a result, Massachusetts taxpayers will pay for those costs until 2038.

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    I suspect that Baker failed to learn many valuable lessons from his tenure as CEO at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Though he touts its profitability during his leadership as a success, Baker often neglects to mention how he slashed and outsourced hundreds of jobs and significantly increased premiums, while tripling his own salary. Tackling the state’s high healthcare costs and recent bureaucratic messiness will surely require a very different sort of executive leadership.

    And so, I don’t think Baker’s election will improve Massachusetts. But nonetheless, as he prepares to take office, the Governor-elect deserves our good will. And for the sake of the Commonwealth, I hope he proves doubters like me wrong.​