SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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April 17, 2014

Time to raise our game

Baker tells forum audience what state needs to be great

SALEM — Swampscott Republican Charlie Baker has worked in state government for years, had success in the private sector and ran for governor in 2010.

But the question he hears most on the campaign trail: Why does he want to run again?

Baker said he wants to make Massachusetts a place where everyone can prosper, not just people like him who were fortunate to grow up in a “great town,” get a “great education,” have parents who were regularly employed and paid the bills, and in turn ensure his children have the same opportunities for success.

“My big worry about the commonwealth is whether or not we’re going to be a great place for everybody to live,” he said, adding he believes too many Massachusetts residents face limited opportunities because of where they live in the state.

Baker spoke yesterday to about 100 business and industry leaders, local politicians and others at Hawthorne Hotel for the first of three forums sponsored by the North Shore Chamber of Commerce and Energi featuring high-profile gubernatorial candidates. Next up is Attorney General Martha Coakley on May 16, followed by Treasurer Steve Grossman on June 11, both of whom are vying for the Democratic ticket.

For about an hour, Baker answered questions from the audience ranging from education, healthcare and taxes to local aid, unfunded pension liabilities and even where he stops for his morning coffee.

The main issues are jobs, schools and communities, he said. The goal is to create an environment that fosters job growth and stability, leads to great schools in every town and instills firm belief in every community for a brighter future.

“The simple truth of the matter is that this is a far less equitable state than it was when I got out of college in 1980,” he said, arguing that data shows Massachusetts is the second most inequitable state behind New York. Baker said the Bay State ranks near the bottom of numerous surveys on cost of living, cost to do business, taxes, and permitting and licensing fees.

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