“A Nuts and Bolts Mr. Fix-It”

Gov. Baker Praised For Major Reforms, Common-Sense Approach

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker has “ended up being exactly as Candidate Baker advertised: a nuts-and-bolts Mr. Fix It,” according to a column in today’s Boston Globeby Meredith Warren. Warren’s column praised Governor Baker for achieving fiscally responsible priorities  – like the temporary suspension of the Pacheco Law for the MBTA – despite a Democrat-controlled Legislature that has historically resisted reform.

Year one with Mr. Fix It

BOSTON GLOBE
By Meredith Warren
12/14/15
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/12/14/charlie-baker-first-year-boring-but-productive/XhgU9J1k2AtfB8f3AexOSN/story.html

IF YOU’RE THE type who got a thrill from Governor Mitt Romney’s rivalry with top Democratic leaders, or who delighted in Governor Deval Patrick’s dramatic rhetoric, then Massachusetts politics in 2015 has been an utter disappointment.

Turns out Governor Charlie Baker ended up being exactly as Candidate Baker advertised: a nuts-and-bolts Mr. Fix It, who doesn’t indulge in partisan fighting and political theatrics.

It seems a majority of Massachusetts voters actually prefer boring to blustery. In a recent poll that gauged support for governors across the United States, Baker earned a 74 percent approval rating from Massachusetts residents, a level of support no other governor could reach.

[Baker, DeLeo, and Rosenbeg] have teamed up several times on initiatives that normally would have been the subject of partisan back-and-forth. Who would have guessed that Baker would convince Democrats to temporarily suspend the Pacheco Law (a law favorable to unions) and set up a control board at the MBTA, much less expand the earned income tax credit, all in his first year?

Baker also does his homework. Instead of offering knee-jerk reactions and quick fixes, he prefers to investigate and consult data to make long-term decisions.

When snow crippled the MBTA last winter, Baker set up a commission to find out what went wrong and make recommendations for how to move forward. He brought together social workers and administrators at the Department of Children and Families to develop a comprehensive plan to correct major failures at the agency.

A more recent case in point: When pressed to allow Syrian refugees into Massachusetts, Baker insisted on pausing to ask questions and gain assurances of safety. Others tried to turn the situation into a political fight, but Baker’s pause to find out details before making a decision fit precisely with his basic approach to governing.

So, for those of us who enjoy political intrigue, we’re going to have to get our fix watching “House of Cards’’ on Netflix. For now, at least, there’s not a lot of high-intensity drama playing out in the halls of Beacon Hill.

But, then again, Netflix doesn’t have a real state to run. Charlie Baker does.

(Click here to read the full column)

 

Governor Charlie Baker Is The Most Popular Governor In America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 20, 2015

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BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker is the most popular governor in the United States, according to a new nationwide poll. Morning Consult conducted a nationwide survey of voters in all 50 states to assess their attitudes toward their governors. Governor Baker posted a 74% favorability rating, the highest of any governor in the country.
How Do Voters Feel About Your Governor?
Voters take a dim view of just about everything that happens in Washington, D.C., and few believe the country is headed in the right direction. But those same voters have a much better opinion of officials who govern their own states.

A comprehensive survey of more than 75,000 voters in all 50 states, conducted over several months by Morning Consult, shows 34 of the nation’s governors have approval ratings of 50 percent or higher, and 16 governors have approval ratings over 60 percent. Governors in only ten states have higher disapproval ratings than approval ratings, the survey found.

Leading the pack is Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican who won election in 2014. Nearly three quarters, 74 percent, of Massachusetts voters say they approve of the job Baker is doing, while just 14 percent say they disapprove.

Morning Consult surveys conducted between May and November asked 76,569 registered voters in all 50 states whether they approve or disapprove of their governor’s job performance. Voters were asked their opinion of their state’s governor; each state’s sample was weighted based on gender, age, and race, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

The sample sizes vary by state, from 6,696 registered California voters to 198 voters registered in Wyoming; margins of error vary by sample size. The median sample size was 1,172 respondents.

Explore the data here:

(Read the full article)

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Editorial Slams Moulton For Politicizing Syria Refugee Issue

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 19, 2015

CONTACT:
Terry MacCormack
781.799.1987

A “Knee-Jerk Reaction,” “Polarizing Partisan Polemics”
BOSTON — A Lowell Sun editorial today slammed Congressman Seth Moulton for a “knee-jerk,” “partisan” reaction to Governor Baker’s caution on the issue of Syrian refugees.

Moulton’s myopic refugee tweets
LOWELL SUN
By The Editorial Board
11/19/15
http://www.lowellsun.com/opinion/ci_29138524/moultons-myopic-refugee-tweets
The Syrian refugee crisis and the mass murder of 129 innocent civilians in Paris by ISIS shouldn’t be fodder for political grandstanding.

But within this state’s all-Democrat congressional delegation, even these tragic events can’t escape polarizing partisan polemics.

Case in point: Congressman Seth Moulton’s ascerbic reaction to Gov. Charlie Baker’s call to pause the flow of Syrian immigrants into this state until the federal government provides a clearer picture of its screening process.


The governor stated that while accepting legitimate refugees is what this state and country is all about, “in the end, the safety and security of the people of Massachusetts is my highest priority.”

To that, Moulton, a Salem Democrat, tweeted: “It’s a shame that Governor Baker doesn’t know the difference between refugees and those from whom they need refuge.”

Tortured syntax aside, the rookie U.S. rep’s knee-jerk response to a common-sense position Baker shares with 29 other Republican governors and New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan demeans his office and the grave situation confronting the United States and its European allies.

To his credit, the governor refused to be baited into further name-calling, and instead stood by his comments.

Beyond its hubris, Moulton’s comment accidentally reinforces Baker’s concerns. Yes, neither the governor nor those in our federal government charged with keeping us safe on occasion can distinguish between terrorists and refugees.

While Moulton tries to turn legitimate concerns into political points, perhaps he should ask his constituents in Billerica, Bedford, Burlington, Tewksbury, Wilmington, and the other 6th District communities he represents how they feel about his position.

Better yet, tell Moulton in no uncertain terms what you think.

(Read the full editorial)

 

Globe Editorial Dismisses Unions’ “Phony Charge Against Governor Baker”

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Guv Is “Doing What He Said He Would…Baker Deserves Credit”

BOSTON — The Boston Globe‘s editorial board is defending Governor Baker’s common-sense and innovative reforms for the MBTA against entrenched special interest attacks. The Globe editorial from this weekend dismissed over-the-top criticisms from Carmen’s Union President James O’Brien as “phony,” pointing out that the Governor’s plan to leverage private-sector efficiency for some MBTA services amounts to “doing what he said he would.” The paper lauds the plan, asserting, “Baker deserves credit” for serious efforts to reform the agency.

A phony charge against Governor Baker

BOSTON GLOBE
The Editorial Board
9/1/15
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2015/08/28/phony-charge-against-governor-baker/dGhOljGELKSeKKGgyAZu4M/story.html

During the recent debate about freeing the MBTA from the Pacheco law, which makes it hard to contract out any services currently performed by state workers, Baker administration officials were asked what they would do if they won such a reprieve. One oft-repeated example was turning little-used late-night bus routes over to private vendors, who would employ smaller buses than the T uses.

Having won a three-year break from Pacheco, the Baker administration is now exploring the possibility of contracting out that service, as well as other low-ridership and express bus routes. That exploration has brought a loud protest from Boston Carmen’s Union President James O’Brien, who calls it “a betrayal.”

“The governor has said ‘No privatization, no cuts in service, no layoffs,’ and here he is, privatizing,” he told the Globe last week. O’Brien bases his comments in part on Baker’s testimony at a legislative hearing, during which the governor said: “We want to fix the T. I do not want to privatize the T. I do not want to slash services. I do not want to lay off hundreds of employees.”

But this hardly constitutes a privatization of the T. And though it may reduce T overtime, it’s not a move intended to result in layoffs at the agency or cuts in service. Rather, the administration says T drivers and buses freed up by contracting out those routes would be reassigned to improve service on higher-demand bus routes.

Asked about his criticism, O’Brien said his understanding was that Baker wanted the Pacheco law suspended so he could more easily fix the transit agency’s infrastructure. Reminded that administration officials actually did talk about contracting out late-night bus service, the union chief noted that there hadn’t been any talk of privatizing express or low-ridership routes. Not specifically, perhaps, but those routes fall into the same kind of category as the lightly used late-night routes; altogether, those three categories account for less than 2.5 percent of the T’s weekly bus rides. O’Brien added that he doesn’t trust the administration’s assertion that the aim behind any such move isn’t to lay off workers but rather to redeploy them to improve core T services.

Whatever his motivation, however, he’s wrong to portray this as some sort of bait-and-switch by the governor, who is simply doing what he said he would. For that, Baker deserves credit — and not an unfair attempt portray him as a double-dealer.

Checking in with MassFiscal

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance
We support Governor Charlie Baker’s vetoes to the 2015-2016 budget. Each veto was a difficult call. In most cases, the cuts were made to small pet projects, important to a particular legislator.

Ultimately, lawmakers voted to override all of the nearly 100 changes Governor Charlie Baker made.

Because of the volume of override votes compared to the few votes on other issues thus far, we’ve decided to treat them differently than usual on our scorecard. Were we to score each one on an individual basis, the overrides alone would essentially dictate a legislator’s score for the entire year. That doesn’t seem fair, so we’ve aggregated the override votes into a single position.

Methodology
Mass Fiscal supports voting no on all veto overrides. To determine whether a legislator should receive ayes or no vote on the scorecard, we split up the data in the following way:

  • First, we calculated the number of no votes each legislator took on the overrides
  • All legislators who voted no 0% of the time automatically received a yes vote on the scorecard
  • Next, we took the list of legislators who voted no some of the time
  • From that list we calculated the median number of no votes taken
  • Legislators with a number of no votes above the median received a no vote on the scorecard
  • Legislators with a number of no votes below the median received a yes vote on the scorecard
Scores
If you would like to see how your member of the legislature voted on all the veto override votes, please click here. To see our legislative scorecard, on this vote in the House, please click here. For the Senate,please click here.
Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance · 18 Tremont St, Suite 707, Boston, MA 02108, United States
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Gloucester Times Praises Gov. Baker’s Approach To Reining In Borrowing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 14, 2015
“An Approach We Feel Is Best For Massachusetts And Its Taxpayers”

BOSTON — In an editorial today, the Gloucester Times praises Governor Baker’s approach to reining in state borrowing, criticizing tax-and-spend Democrats for opposing the plan: “he deserves support, not scorn, from the Legislature.”

Our view: Baker right to rein in state borrowing
GLOUCESTER TIMES

By The Editorial Board
7/14/15
http://www.gloucestertimes.com/opinion/our-view-baker-right-to-rein-in-state-borrowing/article_5708afe9-2fdb-507c-b18a-6f80e56e2992.htmlAfter several rounds of spending cuts and other austerity measures to counteract a $768 million budget deficit brought about by the profligate spending of the Deval Patrick era, one would think Massachusetts lawmakers would commit themselves to being better stewards of the people’s money.

One would be wrong.

Democratic legislators are already complaining that Gov. Charlie Baker isn’t borrowing enough money to spend on pet projects in their home districts. They say they are offended and confused by the administration’s approach to money management.

The disagreement stems from the Baker administration’s conservative approach to borrowing, one that doesn’t increase the state’s debt cap. It’s an approach we feel is best for Massachusetts and its taxpayers.

Baker’s $4.1 billion capital spending plan for fiscal year 2016 would help pay for improvements to state highways, building maintenance projects and renewed economic development. The plan calls for $2.125 billion in general obligation funds, according to the State House News Service. That’s the same as fiscal year 2015 and the first time in six years the executive branch hasn’t increased borrowing by $125 million.

“The more money we borrow now, the less we have available in the operating budget to spend on discretionary spending and the capital program, as you know, has grown significantly in the last few years,” Kristen Lepore, Baker’s administration and finance secretary, told lawmakers at a hearing earlier this month.

Lepore said the administration’s spending plan was “responsible,” especially in light of the fact that borrowing has increased by 64 percent over the past decade.

It’s a sensible approach, a point that was lost on lawmakers.

State Rep. Antonio Cabral, a New Bedford Democrat, said state revenues are growing.

We say Baker is keeping a campaign promise to spend the taxpayers’ money like a responsible adult.

Baker’s sober approach comes as a new study ranks Massachusetts 48th out of the 50 states in financial health, as determined by short- and long-term debt and other obligations, including unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liabilities.

On a long-run basis, Massachusetts’ liabilities exceeded total assets by 47 percent. The state also carried a higher level of bonded debt than the national average. Unfunded pension liabilities were significant at more than $89 billion, close to three times the state’s estimates.”

Yes, the economy seems to be on the rebound. But Norcross says that’s no reason to abandon prudent borrowing and spending policies:

“Even states that appear to be fiscally robust — perhaps owing to large amounts of cash on hand or revenue streams from natural resources — must take stock of their long-term fiscal health before making future public policy decisions.”

That’s exactly what the Baker administration is doing, and he deserves support, not scorn, from the Legislature.

Click here for the full article

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Film Tax Credit on the chopping block

Gloucester Times
Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2015 12:00 am

BOSTON — State House leaders Tuesday rose to the defense of a sometimes controversial tax break for the film industry after Gov. Charlie Baker put the program on the chopping block to help pay for the expansion of a different tax benefit for low-income families.

While top House Democrats described the earned income tax credit (EITC) as one that enjoys broad support among lawmakers, Baker’s proposals to double the EITC and eliminate the film tax credit could meet resistance from lawmakers who say they’ve seen the benefits of the film industry in their communities.

“I have been a big supporter of the film tax credit over the years. I’ve seen first-hand what it has meant in terms of the local economy, things I don’t even think are looked upon when you consider the film tax credit,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said.

DeLeo described a visit to the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce where he heard from small business owners, including a florist, a delicatessen owner and someone who rents furniture, of the positive impact on commerce.

Cape Ann boosts

The film tax credit has also drawn wide support on Cape Ann, where Gloucester and its surrounding communities have benefitted from film companies and crews who have used the tax credit to produce a number of films locally.

“The Proposal,” filmed in 2008 in Rockport, Manchester and Gloucester, Adam Sandler’s “Grown ups,” filmed largely at Centennial Grove in Essex, and the HBO series “Olive Kitteridge” have been among the high-profile works filmed on Cape Ann, providing boosts for the region’s creative economy. “Grown Ups” was cited as pumping more than a $1 million into Essex’s economy when its actors and crew settled into working at Centennial Grove for more than three months in 2009.

Baker’s budget, due to be filed today, will propose doubling the state’s EITC to 30 percent of the federal credit, returning an additional $936 in tax returns to qualifying families with three or more children by the time it’s fully phased in by January 2018.

To offset the $145 million cost of the tax break for families, Baker has proposed to simultaneously phase out the film industry tax credit created to help lure big-budget movie productions to Massachusetts. The $80 million film tax credit would be eliminated from the budget by June 30, 2017

Advisory panel created to get MBTA back on track

BOSTON —Gov. Charlie Baker announced the creation of an advisory council to help diagnose and fix the problems that have plagued the MBTA.

The group will work with MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott to get an “on the ground” look at the issues, Baker said.

“Providing reliable public transportation now will require careful review, adequate resources and a serious discussion of re-structuring. It’s clear that following past procedures will only yield the same unacceptable results,” Baker said.

He expects the panel to report back to the state by the end of March, adding that his administration will continue to work with the MBTA on its recovery plan to get full service restored.

“Let me make this clear, we cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result,” Baker said. “It is my hope that this panel can help us to get the T back on solid ground.”

The experts include Jane Garvey, a national leader in transportation policy and top pick for Secretary of Transportation in the Obama administration, Jose A. Gomez-Ibanez , the Derek C. Bok Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at Harvard University, and Katie Lapp, former Executive Director and CEO for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, North American’s largest transportation network. Paul Barrett will serve as chair, Baker said.

Overnight, crews worked to clear the E Branch of the Green Line to get it up and running again Friday morning. Red Line train service from Alewife to North Quincy Station resumed Friday for the first time since last weekend.

WCVB5  February 20, 2015

From the Office of the Governor

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February 9, 2015 Dear Municipal Leaders,

As the Baker-Polito Administration’s liaison to local officials, I am excited to write to you about some early actions our Administration has taken to support municipalities and local officials.

On our first day in office, we released $100 million in Chapter 90 funds, for a total $300 million annual commitment to local roads and bridges. Second, Governor Baker signed his first Executive Order creating a Community Compact Cabinet (Cabinet) during the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Annual Meeting. Third, the Baker-Polito Administration elevated the Division of Local Services within the Department of Revenue, and we’re thrilled that your colleague, Brookline Deputy Town Administrator Sean Cronin, has agreed to become Senior Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Local Services.

As chair of the Cabinet, I will champion local government issues throughout the Administration and will work with you to create a true partnership between the state and cities and towns. Together, we will work to identify best practices and innovations that provide better, more effective government both at the local and state level.

The Baker-Polito Administration will use the Cabinet to bring together the relevant high-level state officials to develop and execute our commitments to municipalities. One task I will highlight is that we are working to identify unfunded mandates, onerous regulations, and bottlenecks in state government that inhibit the success of your cities and towns. In March, the Division of Local Services will circulate a survey to seek your input.

To hear directly from local leaders, I’ve already started a statewide tour to meet with municipal officials and I hope to be able to connect with you soon. I am eager to hear your ideas about how we can help you grow the economy, provide a quality education for every child, and responsibly manage your community’s budget.

I have attached a summary of the Executive Order, and I look forward to working with you to create a great Massachusetts.

Sincerely,

Karyn E. Polito Lieutenant Governor

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