Our Opinion: Re-elect Gov. Baker
Massachusetts could teach the rest of the nation a few things about the advantages of divided government, and as his first term comes to an end, Gov. Charlie Baker has demonstrated that a moderate Republican chief executive can work reasonably effectively with a Democratic legislature. He has shown himself to be level-headed, open to new ideas and has built a good administration, led by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. Like all first-term officeholders, he has had to learn and acquire political skills on the job, but now that he faces re-election, The Eagle believes that he has achieved a level of competence that it would be unwise to discard. The Eagle endorses him for re-election.
Gov. Baker has not embraced the extreme positions espoused by the national Republican Party that won't fly in Massachusetts. He has shown support for transgender rights and a willingness to engage in the ongoing battle against opioids that has ravaged his state. In fact, on Monday, he announced new legislation seeking $5 million to bolster regional cooperation between law enforcement jurisdictions aimed at apprehending and eliminating illegal drug sellers — an initiative that has long been underway in Berkshire County, where we could sorely use the additional help.
His administration has not been without blemish; his adherence to the GOP's "no new taxes" mantra has hobbled the state in its quest for new revenue streams that would address education and infrastructure needs. His decision not to include a Berkshires representative on the state's newly named transportation task force was an inexcusable slight to the region. His courting of GE to move its headquarters to Boston represents a missed opportunity to hold the company's feet to the fire regarding its intransigence over the Rest of River cleanup.
That said, his Democratic opponent, Jay Gonzalez, hurt his cause by suggesting a revival of the "millionaires tax," thrown out on constitutional grounds earlier this year by the SJC, as well as a scheme to tax endowments of the state's wealthier colleges, including Williams. The latter idea alone — an attempt to exploit class differences that would materially harm the commonwealth's world-class higher education establishment — is by itself a disqualifier for office. If the state is to generate more needed tax revenue it should be done in a comprehensive way that shares the burden and doesn't seek out scapegoats.
In fairness, the governor didn't give Mr. Gonzalez much room to run in. Charlie Baker has run the state confidently and efficiently and is a rare Republican moderate who has defended the state against the worst actions of the Trump White House rather than march in lockstep behind the president as do so many other Republican officials. The Eagle endorses him for another four-year term, and while the election eve grants to the Berkshires are appreciated, we hope in the next term he will be a more consistent advocate for his westernmost constituents.
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