BOSTON (AP) — Maura Haley, the first woman and first openly member of the LGBTQ community to be elected governor of Massachusetts, was sworn into office Thursday at the Statehouse and pledged to lead “with compassion and equity.”
Haley’s promotion to governor signals a political shift in the state’s top elected office from GOP to Democratic hands. Haley, 51, replaces former Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, 66, who opted not to seek re-election after two terms.
The ceremony also marks the first time that all women will take over the ticket office. Kim Driscoll, who served as Salem’s mayor, was elected lieutenant governor alongside Haley and was also sworn in Thursday.
Healy outlined some of his goals in his 35-minute opening speech.
She acknowledged the rising cost of housing in Massachusetts and vowed in her first 100 days to make the new secretary of housing. She said she would also work to convert state-owned property into homes or rental properties and reduce costs for renters by expanding tax breaks.
“Housing costs are out of control because we don’t have enough,” she said. “If we want Massachusetts to be a home for all, we need to create more places to live.”
Healy said she would work on changes to the tax code, including an emphasis on child tax credits for every child, while working to increase access to child care.
In her first budget, Healy said she would propose free community college for students over the age of 25 who do not have a college degree. She said she would also press for increased funding for the state university system to make it easier for everyone to pursue higher degrees.
One of the biggest challenges facing Haley is the state’s beleaguered public transit system.
She said that in the next 60 days, she would appoint a security chief to oversee the Metropolitan Bay Transportation Authority, which oversees the Boston-area public transportation system, and proposed hiring 1,000 new employees in her first budget proposal. Will include money for The system is running at full capacity.
“We know that the MBTA is short-staffed – and we know that short-staffing has had serious consequences,” she said.
Healy, who served eight years as Massachusetts attorney general, ran nearly unopposed in the Democratic primary last year and easily defeated Republican candidate Geoff Diehl in the general election. She is only the second Democrat in the last three decades to be elected governor of Massachusetts.
The new governor is also part of a record number of women holding top state elected offices in Massachusetts. Of the six statewide offices, not counting US Senate seats, women will now hold all but one.
During her speech, Haley also stated that she is committed to removing barriers faced by people of color, people with disabilities, women, and LGBT residents.
She said she would start by instructing every agency in her administration to conduct equity audits.
“Our greatest strength is our people, but we cannot reach our potential as a state when so many are blocked from reaching their own,” he said.
Haley said she would also lead the state’s efforts to transition to renewable energy in the future.
He pledged to double the state’s offshore wind and solar targets, quadruple its energy storage and bring one million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
Those promises are in line with the state’s larger efforts to combat climate change. Haley said she would create the country’s first cabinet-level climate chief to work with the government and cities and towns to meet the state’s climate goals.
Like former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick invested state funds to help make Massachusetts a hub for biotech, Healy said she wants the state to be a hub for renewable energy technology.
Healy, a former Harvard basketball player, said she relied on teamwork as attorney general and would bring that same spirit of a shared mission to the governor’s office.
Haley looks forward to working closely with the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts House and Senate. Democratic Senate President Karen Spilka administered the oath of office to Healy and Driscoll.
“No matter what challenges we face, no matter what lies ahead, we will remain true to our best,” Haley said. “We will act with empathy and equity. We will work together.”
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