April 23, 2017

On Beacon Hill: No breaks for Baker when it comes to making the grade

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Sam Doran / State House News Service

A crew from Bridgewater State University's Project EarthView inflated a 20-foot globe in Nurses Hall last week. Young children at the State House in the middle of school vacation week were able to climb inside the hand-painted sphere, which contains a "two-story, portable classroom" with a behind-the-scenes look at Earth's land masses. EarthView, an effort of Bridgewater State's Geography Department and Center for the Advancement of STEM Education (CASE), travels to schools and youth programs in Southeast Massachusetts.

Recap and analysis of the week in state, and federal, government
from State House News Service

Schools broke for April vacation, but midterm grades started to come out this week and had to leave Gov. Charlie Baker wondering what a guy needs to do to get an A.

It seems everyone in Massachusetts is a tough grader, the governor included.

It probably did not shock the governor or his team when, for the second straight year, a coalition of environmental advocacy groups gave Baker a “mediocre” grade of C for 2016.

Despite solid marks for energy efficiency and electric vehicle promotion, environmental activists have been unimpressed with the progress Baker has made toward a campaign promise to boost funding in the state budget for environmental issues.

The governor’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal actually backslides from the target of 1 percent of total spending, and the governor’s support for natural gas pipelines has not endeared him to those in the green community.

So he got one C grade. But surely, the governor’s performance would be looked at more kindly by the woman with whom he shares a home? Apparently not.

Sam Doran / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker

First Lady Lauren Baker, it would seem, was equally unimpressed by her husband’s recent 75 percent approval rating in a Morning Consult poll, which made him once again the most popular governor in America, now more than two full years into his first term.

“Congratulations. You got a C,” the first lady reportedly told her husband. Ouch.

All of that tough love must have rubbed off on the governor who, when asked this week to grade his own administration’s performance with the MBTA, handed down a grade of …. C+.

“I would argue that that’s because a big part of the investment that we are going to be making over the next several years in the core system is just getting started,” he said. Baker gave his team an A- for organizational improvements at the T.

Judgment will also be coming soon for the state Department of Correction following the shocking suicide of former New England Patriots tight end and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez.

Just days after being acquitted of a separate double homicide, Hernandez was found dead in his Souza Baranowski Correctional Center cell in Shirley where he hanged himself using a bedsheet. Leaving aside the question of why Hernandez took his own life, Gov. Baker said he would wait to form judgements on how it was allowed to happen until after the full investigation.

“Anytime anybody kills [themselves] in a prison, something clearly went wrong,” Baker said, nevertheless extending his “full faith and confidence” in state Correction Commissioner Thomas Turco.

[Watch video of Baker’s comments on Hernandez below.]

The Hernandez suicide rocked an otherwise sleepy news week as Beacon Hill slipped into its pre-budget debate slumber, and marathon runners gave Bostonians something to cheer for as summer temperatures briefly warmed the Patriot’s Day holiday.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Robust tax collections spike sluggish revenue pace
  • Legislature stares down impending budget imbroglio
  • McGovern scoffs at Trump; Polito honors top teacher
  • Trump to nominate Scott Brown for ambassador to New Zealand
  • Video: Baker on Hernandez
  • Grant provides boost for energy efficiency upgrades


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