BOSTON (CBS) – “The T’s failures last winter became a crisis, and I am proud to say that by working together we found and seized opportunity,” said Gov. Charlie Baker during his first State of the Commonwealth address. And that line alone sums up some of the major reasons why Baker has racked up sky-high approval ratings during his first year in office.
He inherited a buffet of nightmare bureaucracies in meltdown after years of mismanagement, like the MBTA, the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Health Care Connector. The latter two have become noticeably more customer-friendly, and landmark reforms have been set in motion for the T, all without significant partisan dissent.READ MORE: Severe Thunderstorms Possible In Central, Eastern Massachusetts
“Some have lamented how boring we are, and I must admit, that makes me smile,” said Baker in one of his speech’s few colorful moments. But after years of bickering between Governor Deval Patrick and the Legislature, this first year of smooth sailing across the partisan divide has been a pleasant surprise and a key to Baker’s success.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
But what goes up must come down, and with the huge problems still facing Baker – including repairing DCF and finding the funds to make MBTA reform work without violating his no-new-taxes mantra – the bipartisan mood on Beacon Hill may not last that much longer.
Thursday night, Baker laid down the gantlet on one of the most bitterly-contested issues, the push to expand the number of non-union public charter schools. “A state that places such high value on education should not place arbitrary limits on high-quality schools. And it should not sit idly by while so many parents feel the pain of missed opportunity for their kid,” he said, to a mixed response in the House Chamber.MORE NEWS: To Do List: Food Festival, Fluff Festival, Kids Festival and More
Teacher unions and their Beacon Hill allies have made it clear they’ll fight that with all they’ve got. But if Baker can cut opioid abuse and help communities hold the line on property taxes, he’ll have plenty of political capital to spend on the charter school battle. And boredom might reign supreme on Beacon Hill for awhile longer.