BOSTON (AP) — When Gov. Charlie Baker delivers his annual State of the Commonwealth address Tuesday evening, he’ll be facing a much different landscape than he did a year ago.
Instead of talking to a packed Massachusetts House chamber, Baker will instead be delivering his speech in a largely empty Statehouse as the state continues to grapple with the fallout of a global pandemic.
In last year’s address, the only epidemic Baker mentioned was the state’s struggle to combat an ongoing opioid crisis.
In the 12 months since, another scourge, the coronavirus pandemic, has become a nearly all-consuming task for Baker — first struggling to suppress the spread of the virus and obtain needed personal protective equipment for those on the front lines and now working to administer vaccines to the state’s approximately 6.9 million residents.
While COVID-19 has eclipsed much in the past year, the work of state government continues.
In his speech, Baker will likely touch on other priorities — some of which will be the focus of his state budget proposal, which will likely be filed on Wednesday, kicking off Beacon Hill’s annual budget debate,
There are other non-COVID-19 priorities still waiting final action, including a sweeping climate change bill that lawmakers approved in the waning hours of the last legislative session.
Baker vetoed the bill after the session ended forcing lawmakers to refile it in the new session with the hopes of quickly passing it and getting it back to Baker, who said he supports many parts of the bill but wanted to use his veto authority to help improve it.
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