Massachusetts

Gov. Maura Healey Creates Mass. Climate Office on 1st Full Day

Her first public event will be held at 12 p.m., when Healey is expected to announce the filing of a Climate Chief Executive Order

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On her first full day as governor of Massachusetts, Maura Healey got to work, appointing what her office called the nation's first cabinet-level climate chief executive and meeting with the heads of other departments.

Healey, who was officially sworn in on Thursday, started her day by swearing in her new cabinet secretaries at 9:30 a.m. in the Governor's Council Chamber, followed by the first cabinet meeting at 10 a.m. Both events were closed to the press.

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At her first public event, Healey announced she'd established a climate chief and the Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience.

"The climate crisis is Massachusetts’ greatest challenge, but there is enormous opportunity in our response," Healey said in a statement, adding she was ordering the position's creation "because we have no time to delay."

Gov. Maura Healey was sworn in Thursday, marking a historic day in Massachusetts.

Healey announced last month that she would be appointing former Environmental Protection Agency executive Melissa Hoffer as the state's first-ever cabinet-level climate chief. Massachusetts will be the first state in the U.S. to have such a position.

"Climate change impacts all aspects of our lives, and it’s essential that we are coordinating our response across the entire government and the entire state. The action Governor Healey is taking today is putting Massachusetts on the path to a better, healthier, more equitable future," Hoffer said in a statement.

In addition to Hoffer, so far Healey also announced Terrence Reidy as secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Mike Doheny as acting Labor and Workforce secretary, Mary Beckman as acting Health and Human Services secretary, Yvonne Hao as head of the Executive Office of Economic Development, Jason Snyder as head of the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, Matt Gorzkowicz as secretary of administration and finance, Patrick Tutwiler as her education secretary, Gina Fiandaca as transportation secretary and Rebecca Tepper as new secretary of energy and environmental affairs.

Healey’s elevation to governor signals a political shift in the state’s top elected office from GOP to Democratic hands. Healey, 51, is replacing former Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, 66, who opted not to seek reelection after two terms.

She is the first woman and first open member of the LGBTQ community to be elected governor of Massachusetts. Her election also marks the first time that an all-women ticket will occupy the office. Kim Driscoll, former Salem mayor, was elected lieutenant governor with Healey.

Healey outlined some of her goals in her 35-minute inaugural address Thursday.

New Gov. Maura Healey was sworn in Thursday at the Massachusetts State House.

She acknowledged the soaring cost of housing in Massachusetts and vowed in her first 100 days to create a new secretary of housing. She said she’ll also work to convert state-owned property into homes or rental properties and reduce costs for renters by expanding tax breaks.

“The cost of housing is out of control because we simply don’t have enough of it,” she said. “If we want Massachusetts to be a home for all, we need to build more places to live.”

Healey said she’ll work on changes to the tax code including pushing for a child tax credit for every child while also working to expand access to child care.

In her first budget Healey said she will propose offering free community college to students over 25 who don’t have a college degree. She said she’ll also press for increased funding to the state university system to make it easier for everyone to afford a higher degree.

Political commentator Sue O'Connell on the history being made, both in Massachusetts and nationally, with the inauguration of Maura Healey as governor.

One of the biggest challenges facing Healey is the state’s beleaguered public transit system.

She said in the next 60 days, she’ll appoint a safety chief to inspect the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which oversees the Boston-area public transportation system, and will include funding in her first budget proposal to hire 1,000 new workers to get the system running at full capacity.

“We know the MBTA is woefully understaffed — and we know that lack of staffing has had grave consequences,” she said.

Healey, who served eight years as Massachusetts attorney general, ran virtually unopposed in the Democratic primary last year and easily defeated Republican candidate Geoff Diehl in the general election. She’s only the second Democrat in the past three decades to be elected governor in Massachusetts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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