Massachusetts Gov.-elect Baker names government veteran Kristen Lepore to key financial post

Government And Institutions Associated Press

Gov.-elect Charlie Baker on Monday appointed Kristen Lepore as his secretary of administration and finance, the state's top budget official.

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Lepore, currently a vice president of government affairs for Associated Industries of Massachusetts, previously served as deputy chief of staff and director of fiscal policy under Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci.

"Having held this position, I know what it takes to get the job done and Kristen Lepore's breadth of experience at the local, state and federal levels of government, combined with her private sector experience makes her the right choice to head up this important role," Baker said in a statement announcing his latest cabinet appointment.

Baker served as secretary of administration and finance under Cellucci and Republican Gov. William Weld.

"Crafting the next fiscally responsible budget while investing in the people and services instrumental to making Massachusetts great is the administration's top priority and a duty I am humbled to take on," Lepore said.

While one of Lepore's first major tasks will be crafting a budget for the state's next fiscal year that begins July 1, she also is likely to have a say in how a budget gap for the current fiscal year is closed.

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Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick's administration last week pegged the shortfall at $329 million, blaming a series of factors including an automatic cut in the state income tax rate scheduled to take effect July 1. Patrick said he was using his authority to cut nearly $200 million in spending in the executive branch, and asked the Legislature to make additional cuts including more than $25 million in local aid to cities and towns.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo later ruled out local aid cuts as a means of eliminating the shortfall.

Baker takes office Jan. 8.