Congratulations to Gov. Charlie Baker

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As a new Governor takes office today, words of advice will flow from many quarters. Pioneer Institute has for 26 years shared advice with political leaders and policymakers, and most importantly with the media and the general public.  Our job is simple: Drive public debate on the handful of policy areas that will make Massachusetts residents better educated, healthier and more prosperous.

We don’t mind admitting that our hopes for Governor Baker are high. With good reason – for over 25 years, we have known him as someone who appreciates the value of evidence-based research.

He understands the potential impact of state policy. He understands that government must lend a helping hand, and that it can also act as a hindrance to our residents as they pursue their individual hopes and dreams.  He understands numbers with the depth to grasp that you have to count more than dollars spent on a service to get good outcomes – you have to track effectiveness and push hard to get there.

Pioneer knows better than most what effective public services look like.  We’ve promoted innovative programs from across the country through our Better Government Competition for 23 years.  And we know the benefit of focusing on improving the most critical pieces of the policy puzzle – education, health care, government effectiveness and job creation.  In pursuing our work, we can be at times very attentive to government failures like the squandering of hundreds of millions of dollars at the Health Connector, but it is because each dollar wasted is a missed opportunity to invest in priorities, whether they be public or private.

Our hopes are high because we believe the new Governor understands the need to give evidence a seat at the table, so that it can compete with the wish lists of powerful special interests in the debate over how best to serve the public.

Our confidence stems in part from the fact that the new Governor was one of this organization’s first executive directors, and played a role in a number of research initiatives since that time.  Our founder, the late Lovett C. “Pete” Peters, is surely smiling down on today’s Inauguration with a great deal of pride.

Pete famously told Charlie back in 1988, “It took us 75 years to get into this mess, it will take 75 to get out. We might as well start today.”  The list of Pioneer’s accomplishments since that time is lengthy, but Pete’s long-term view – his insistence on looking at the future and multi-generational impacts – is why Pioneer has from day one cared most deeply about the quality of education in Massachusetts.

But there’s so much more to do. And Pioneer will continue the work of generating innovative ideas rooted in research. That’s why we kicked off this week with our “Baker’s Dozen” – 13 ideas for a healthcare policy agenda.

There is more to come. We will continue to offer the latest research from some of the best minds in country, and our team of highly experienced analysts – including Greg Sullivan, Mary Connaughton, Charles Chieppo, Jamie Gass, Josh Archambault and many others – will continue to serve as trusted resources to the policymakers and the media.

In a tribute to former Governor Bill Weld, the Governor-Elect said, “Ideas are not partisan… Smart people will take good ideas and turn them into policy and programs to do good things for the communities that they live in and for the people that they serve.”

That’s advice worth taking.  We look forward to driving important debates – that is the strength of our commonwealth and our country.