Baker mentions offshore wind project in speech


In his State of the Commonwealth address Tuesday night, Gov. Charlie Baker gave a shout-out to a project that’s in the works off the southern coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

Gov. Baker told the legislature that the state is on track to complete a process that could lead to the construction of the nation’s largest offshore wind farm. Though he mentioned the project, it was the jobs it would bring to places like New Bedford, and not the Island, that were noted in his speech.

Three companies submitted bids in December to locate a wind farm 12 to 15 miles off the coast of the Vineyard. Those bids by Bay State Wind, Deepwater Wind, and Vineyard Wind are currently under review by Peregrine Energy Group, with coordination from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). The state Attorney General’s office will vet the results, and a decision is expected April 23.

According to the State House News Service, Gov. Baker also called for renewed commitments to mental health treatment, funding for college scholarships, and expanded tax breaks for low-income families in his speech. The governor also spoke to his vision for what government can mean to people when it does not get bogged down in the partisan mudslinging that has come to define national politics, and when Democrats and Republicans work together.

Baker, who is riding high in the polls as he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito prepare to make the case for another four years in office, used his final State of the Commonwealth address to run through accomplishments his administration has chalked up over three years. He also teased some of the priorities that will be featured when he presents the legislature with his fiscal 2019 budget proposal on Wednesday, including an expansion of the earned-income tax credit and an increase of $83 million for community-based mental health services.

“It is our job to create the cohesion envisioned by those who came before us. To move this state forward. To protect and fight for its interests and its people. And to never forget that we are the lucky ones,” Baker said. “We live in a great state filled with creative, community-minded, hard-working, decent people. And what they want from us is opportunity, possibility, and hope.” Other priorities ticked off by the governor include:

  • Adding 500 new treatment beds over the next five years, and adding $200 million in the fight against opioid addiction.
  • $7 million increase in scholarship funding for community college students who qualify for Pell Grants, and expanding early college offerings for high school students looking to get a jump on coursework.
  • $2 million to help municipalities and the state prepare and plan for the effects of climate change.

According to the State House News Service, Gov. Baker even squeezed in the fact that the New England Patriots are headed to their third Super Bowl in four years. “So I can stand here and say without question the state of our Commonwealth is strong,” Baker said.