Republican Governor-elect Charlie Baker plans to "get a lot of stuff done" over the next four years by working across the aisle with Democratic legislative leaders. On Friday morning, he explained some of the tactics he plans to use to make that happen.
"My own experience with legislators over the years has been that if you keep them informed and you treat them with the respect that they deserve and you engage in a dialogue in which you're focused on the issues at hand and not the personalities, you can get a lot of stuff done," Baker, who visited Springfield on Friday, said in a phone interview with Boston Herald Radio.
While most members of the Legislature arrived in state government after Baker had left it, the Swampscott Republican served with the more senior members of the General Court when he held the top health and human services and administration and finance posts under Republican Govs. William Weld and Paul Cellucci during the 1990s.
Baker also talked about state government being a more "predictable partner" with cities and towns and his hopes to increase local aid in lockstep with increases in state revenues.
"We'd also like to start working on developing kind of a two-year budget at least for planning purposes," Baker said, calling that idea one that many municipalities would be "all for."
Like Cellucci and Weld, Baker enjoyed working relationships with top Democrats in the Legislature during his previous state service. He will need similar relationships to advance a legislative agenda that's bound to clash at times with the priorities of Beacon Hill Democrats.
In January, Baker will have just six Republicans to work with in the 40-seat Senate and 34 or 35 in the 160-seat House - the exact number will be determined by the outcome of a close North Shore House race.
In the face of a Republican takeover of Congress that some analysts predict will worsen gridlock with the Obama White House in Washington, Baker downplayed the prospect of gridlock with the Democrat-controlled Legislature on Beacon Hill.
A former selectman, Baker said the level of connectivity at the state government level is similar to the local level, where he said people know where elected officials live, their phone numbers, where they get their coffee, and what sports their kids play.
"Therefore, some of the drama that goes on in DC, you just can't do that in state and local government," he said.
During the most recent federal government shutdown, governors from both major parties united against partisanship in Washington and the inability of leaders of both parties to get along, Baker said.
Calling it his "favorite comment" on that topic, Baker said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, had said, "Look if we behave the way people in Washington behave we would be stoned on the steps of the State House and we'd probably deserve it."
Baker said, "There's a certain pragmatism and practicality that comes with being closer to the people."
Scott Brown, the former state and U.S. senator who has now mounted two straight unsuccessful bids to return to Washington, texted Baker before he went to bed after Tuesday night's elections.
"He literally just said congratulations," Baker said Friday, calling it a "very classy thing to do."
After being defeated in 2012 by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Brown this week lost a close election against New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Baker is now poised to become the top Republican in Massachusetts, a status that Brown, the former Wrentham Republican, held only a few years ago.
Asked about a potential role for Brown in his administration, Baker said he hadn't thought about "any of those sorts of things yet" or had conversations with anybody.
Baker said former Gov. Mitt Romney also stopped by the Seaport Hotel on election night to wish him luck.
Baker has had contacts with legislative leaders from both parties on Beacon Hill this week. On Wednesday, he briefly visited with Gov. Deval Patrick to begin a transition that will culminate when Baker takes over for Patrick in January.
Baker will likely be back on the Hill next week to visit with legislative leaders. "My goal is to get up there and chat with all of those folks next week," he said.