In his opening speech as Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker urged lawmakers to deal with the commonwealth's projected deficit for fiscal 2015.

"We can't blame our deficits on a lack of revenue. We have to recognize that this is a spending problem," Baker, a Republican, said Jan. 8.

Deficit estimates range from the $325 million projected by Deval Patrick's outgoing administration to $813 million that the business-financed Massachusetts Taxpayer's Foundation cited earlier Thursday. The foundation said the deficit could soar to $1 billion.

"Growth is the biggest solution to any budget problem," Baker told a State House gathering in Boston that included several former Bay State governors, and current Northeast peers Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island.

Karyn Polito, a former state representative from Shrewsbury, became lieutenant governor.

Patrick, a Democrat, did not seek re-election. Baker, who narrowly lost to Patrick in 2010, beat Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley in the general election in November.

Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's rate the Bay State's general obligation bonds AA-plus. Moody's Investors Service rates them an equivalent Aa1.

Speaking at last month's state investor conference in Boston, Baker said Massachusetts should aim for a triple-A rating.

He and incoming Treasurer Deborah Goldberg both favor lowering the commonwealth's its expected pension fund rate of return to 7.75% from 8%, and both advocate an independent budget agency akin to the Congressional Budget Office.

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