With his swearing-in as Massachusetts' 72nd chief executive, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker not only steps into the state's top political office, but he also fulfills a long-held dream — a quest that included an earlier bid for governor and a hard found contest last year. In his inaugural speech, Baker laid out a vision of a state that faces tough challenges.
Here are other things to know about Baker's inauguration:
Baker is the state's newest governor, but he's anything but a stranger to the Massachusetts Statehouse or state politics. He worked under the administrations of former Republican Govs. William Weld and Paul Cellucci, first as secretary of Health and Human Services and later as secretary of Administration and Finance. From 1999 to 2003, Baker also served on the state board of education. In 2006, he challenged Democratic Gov.Deval Patrick and lost.
POMP AND CEREMONY
The changing of governors in Massachusetts is a ceremony steeped in tradition, beginning with the "lone walk" taken by the outgoing governor. Patrick walked out of the building Wednesday evening, representing his transition from public to private life. Patrick's exit was commemorated with a 19-gun salute, as was Baker's arrival at the Statehouse on Thursday morning, when he walked up the same steps that Patrick descended on his way to his swearing-in.
Baker's swearing-in was a family affair. As he took his oath of office, Baker was surrounded by his wife, Lauren, daughter Caroline and sons Charlie Jr. and AJ. Baker placed his hand on a Bible held by his wife that his mother held for his father nearly a half century ago when the elder Baker was sworn in as an assistant U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Baker's father attended the Statehouse ceremony, but his mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, was unable to attend.
While inauguration day is intended to be relatively free of party politics, that's a tough proposition in a state and in a building where political jockeying is a way of life. On hand to welcome Baker were three local GOP luminaries — former Govs. Weld and Mitt Romney and former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown. Democratic legislative leaders pledged to work with Baker, a promise that could be put to the test when Baker tries to close a looming budget deficit.
DOWN TO BUSINESS
Baker wasted little time using his new authority to start making policy changes. Just hours after taking office, Baker ordered the release of $100 million in funding to cities and towns for local transportation projects. Each community's share of funds is determined by a formula that includes factors like population, road miles and employment. Baker said the release of the $100 million constitutes the remaining one-third of additional local transportation funding authorized in 2014, which Patrick had held back.
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