- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

Excerpts from the prepared text of Gov. Charlie Baker’s inaugural address following his swearing-in at the Massachusetts Statehouse on Thursday.

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On taking office:

“To my fellow citizens, it’s with great humility and high honor that I assume the office of Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I’m well aware of the authority and privileges that come with this office. But they’re inconsequential in comparison to the responsibility of serving and protecting the people of this great state. And the obligation to always live up to their trust.”

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On challenges ahead:

“Our Commonwealth is filled with hardworking, talented and inspiring people. We’re a global leader in health care, biotechnology, high technology, education, finance, energy efficiency and advanced manufacturing. And we’ve led the way for the nation on issues ranging from health care reform to marriage equality. But we’re nowhere near our full potential. Some of our toughest challenges have been ignored and lost amid the successes. Or have become the equivalent of kicking a can down the road because they’re not politically convenient or easy to fix.”

“I know we can do better.”

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On the current state budget deficit:

“With respect to the state’s budget, our Constitution requires that the budget be balanced. No one understands that better than I do. The responsibility now rests with us. History will record that a budget deficit exceeding half a billion dollars is being transferred to my administration. If we’re honest with ourselves, then we can’t blame our deficit on a lack of revenue. We have to recognize that this is a spending problem. And that dealing with it now will make balancing next year’s budget that much easier. We will hold the line on taxes. We’re already demanding enough from hardworking people. And we will protect cities and towns and fulfill our promise to end the cuts to local aid. Otherwise, every line item will be looked at.”

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On the state economy:

“Massachusetts has an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. But that’s a cold-hearted statistic that ignores the 200,000 people seeking work, the hundreds of thousands of underemployed and the tens of thousands who have dropped out of the workforce altogether. There’s no single initiative that can start and sustain a job-creating economy. But there is clear evidence that we’re too complex, too expensive and too slow to move and make decisions. On this we must do better. Our administration will work to reduce red tape and streamline regulatory requirements on startups and established businesses. And we’ll report regularly on our progress.”

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On public education and charter schools:

“While traditional public schools will always be the backbone of our education, we need more high-performing public charter schools in underperforming school districts to complement them. As I speak, there are more than 45,000 Bay State kids and their parents on waiting lists for these schools. It’s wrong for any of us to stand on a front porch or in a city neighborhood sympathizing with a mom or dad when they tell us their child is not getting the education to succeed in life and then oppose lifting the charter school cap or making the changes we need to ensure that every school is great.”

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