BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker called for improvements in education, transportation and housing Tuesday in his last state of the state address before seeking a second term in office.
In the half-hour speech, the Republican said Massachusetts can’t rest on its laurels.
He said while the state has seen a drop in opioid-related overdose deaths, more needs to be done.
He also pushed an initiative to create more housing and said the state is working to increase its reliance on renewable energy and improve transportation.
Baker also said the state needs people to believe in their government.
“This requires among other things, that we commit ourselves to a common decency in our debate and in our dealings with one another and the public,” he said.
WATCH: Gov. Baker’s Full Speech
Among the issues Baker discussed were:
Baker pointed to a 10 percent reduction in opioid deaths and a 29 percent decrease in the number of opioid prescriptions as positive signs, but said more needs to be done.
Baker pushed lawmakers to approve a bill that would let police officers and medical professionals bring high-risk individuals to substance abuse treatment centers, even against their will, for up to 72 hours.
The bill also would set credentialing standards for “recovery coaches” who help people to overcome addiction and make it easier to prescribe small amounts of opioid painkillers.
Baker said he’s committed to improving the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and making commuter rail from Fall River and New Bedford to Boston a reality.
Baker also announced Tuesday the formation of a new commission to help the administration come up with solutions to the state’s future transportation needs.
He said the commission will focus on climate and resiliency; transportation electrification; autonomous and connected vehicles, including ride-sharing services; transit and mobility services; and land use and demographic trends.
Baker discussed his plan to create 135,000 new housing units in Massachusetts by 2025 in part by approving more than $10 million in incentives, grant funding and technical assistance each year.
Baker said Massachusetts home prices have soared at the fastest rate in the nation, and rents in metropolitan Boston are among the highest in the country.
“It has been decades since this state produced enough housing to keep up with demand. The result has been predictable,” he said. “A limited supply creates overheated demand and rising prices.”
Baker also talked about ongoing efforts to increase the state’s reliance on renewable energy.
In 2016, Baker signed a law requiring the state to solicit contracts for 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy, including hydropower, onshore wind and solar power, along with 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy.
He said in a few days the state will announce the results of the largest renewable energy procurement in its history.
He also said the state is on track to complete a process that could lead to the construction of the nation’s largest offshore wind power operation.
Baker said he’s committed to protecting the state’s 2006 health care law in the face of changes to the federal health insurance law.
Baker said he’ll also continue to push for bipartisan fixes to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
He said that regardless of changes to the law in Washington, “no woman in Massachusetts will be denied reproductive health care services.”
Baker — who has often found himself at odds with members of the national Republican Party including President Donald Trump — concluded the speech by saying it’s important to keep political discussions civil.
“That doesn’t mean we always have to agree. We won’t,” Baker said. “Some of us will agree with each other most of the time. Some will agree some of the time. And some will never agree at all. That’s OK. That’s called ‘democracy’ and more often than not, it works.”
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