Gov. Charlie Baker returned from meetings with other Republican governors this week with a weighty new goal for the next two, four, or possibly eight years: protect state funding in the era of President Donald Trump.
"I think in many ways for us, this is a hugely important issue because we are a state that between health care and education and energy ... and defense, has a lot of interest and a lot of issues with respect to what happens at the federal level," Baker told reporters Wednesday morning after returning from an Orlando, Florida, meeting of the Republican Governor's Association, which Baker sits on the executive committee of.
Trump has made promises to cut federal funding to "sanctuary cities," which serve as a refuge for immigrants who are in the country illegally.
Baker said he is mostly worried about ensuring that the interests and concerns of the people of Massachusetts are represented at the federal level. In the past, Baker has refused to support legislation granting state protections to undocumented immigrants, saying he prefers to let municipalities decide for themselves.
"Then it's incumbent on our administration and on our congressional delegation to work hard to make sure that our state receives the federal support that we've previously been able to secure, whether through grant programs or formula-based funding, and that's gonna be the approach that I would take to this going forward," Baker said.
At the Orlando meeting, Baker met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the current Indiana governor, who is managing Trump's transition into the White House.
"Gov. Pence, having been a governor himself, agreed that states are often what I would describe as sort of the front lines for a lot of the decisions that get made at the federal level, and he made it clear to us that he will want to have a very deliberate and significant dialogue with governors and with states as the new administration moves forward," Baker said.
Baker's biggest concern with the nascent Trump administration, he said, is "an interest in seeing who gets appointed to a lot of the key positions and how the policy apparatus starts to develop." Baker repeated the words of President Barack Obama, who cautioned Americans this week to let Trump "make his decisions."
"The American people will judge over the course of the next couple of years whether they like what they see," Obama said at a White House press conference Monday.
"I'm going to take a page from President Obama's book on this one, who said the other day that he thinks the Trump administration's team should be judged by the totality of its appointments. Let's see what else happens," Baker said.