Governor Deval L. Patrick
Governor Reflects on the Year 2007
December 19, 2007
Well happy holidays everyone and thank you for coming this morning. With the year drawing to a close, I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts on this, our first year in office, and to look ahead to next year as well. First of all there are many, many reasons for me and for the people of the commonwealth to be grateful. The first for me is that I have terrific partner in our Lt. Governor Tim Murray.
He brings a wonderful perspective and range of experience, particularly in local government but beyond, and is a very strong contributor to policy making and policy implementation in this administration and I am grateful everyday, and glad to say so in public. We should all be grateful, and I am, for having such a strong and confident and committed and gifted cabinet who stand with me today. They bring tremendous creativity and constructive advice to the work that we do and they are in every way helping to strengthen and improve every aspect of state government, and I am grateful to them, as well, and proud of their service.
I am also grateful to the people of Massachusetts for giving me the chance to do the job. It is a gas and I love it and I am enjoying it and learning a great deal and getting better every day. As promised during the campaign, we have undertaken a broad and ambitious agenda. Our agenda is about jobs, schools, and citizenship or civic engagement--the formula that, frankly, transformed my life and has transformed the life of so many people in the commonwealth and in the country for a very long time. We have begun, through that formula and based on that agenda to lay the foundation for greater opportunities for Massachusetts families, Massachusetts business and communities all across the commonwealth. So we have focused on job growth, on business investment, on transportation, on educational quality and on civic engagement, and we've had some victories in this first year and I am proud of them. In job growth, this Massachusetts economy has generated over 25,000 new jobs-good jobs-and moved from 49 th in the nation in job creation just last year to 15 th this year. That is very good news and it comes at a time of general economic unease in the national economy. So, this would be an extraordinary achievement, I think, under any circumstances, but is especially so under the current general economic malaise, if you will.
The Readiness Project-something we've launched to begin the next phase in education reform here in the commonwealth, so that children will have the tools to compete globally, and that is an effort that has been built around a broad coalition of educators, of policy experts, of business leaders and others working closely and well together to develop some new thinking about how it is we deliver on the promise of a good and decent and adequate and, indeed, transformative education for young people all across the commonwealth. I'm looking forward to their report and recommendations next year.
In health care reform, we have more than successfully implemented this groundbreaking initiative. Some 300,000 adults and children who were not insured last year are insured this year, and that is very good news. And the coalition, as broad and diverse as it was in creating this new health care reform initiative, has stayed together for every critical decision point since then. And it's helped keep this reform flexible and adjusting to changes in experience and changes in realities.
We've spent some $54,000,000 in public safety initiatives with a focus on prevention and intervention. There is more in this regard that we want to do and will undertake to do and we've been consulting broadly with members of communities, with families, with victims and survivors, with law enforcement to help develop the smartest policies so that we can really start to get traction in all of the cities where gun and gang violence has spiked.
In civic engagement, we have, I am proud to say, an historically diverse cabinet and leadership ranks throughout the government. We have now been able to sign into law Commonwealth Corps, the volunteer opportunity, commonwealth-wide, for young people coming out of school, for folks who are mid-career, for retirees to come back and give back to their communities through an organized set of mechanisms. The SERV program and other initiatives encouraging volunteerism among state workers and others so that people begin to understand the stake that each of us has in our neighbors' dreams and struggles as well as our own and we have organized the Office of Civic Engagement in the governor's office to help coordinate these strategies.
Managed competition in auto insurance-a difficult, complex, but important reform in the way we deliver a service that people in the commonwealth require. Lower rates for good drivers, no matter where they live, will be the outcome of this. And I'm very, very pleased that the commissioner and the attorney general continue the focus on the 'managed' part of managed competition, which is rigorous oversight to assure that the objections of this initiative are borne out in reality.
And obviously, the marriage equality vote--the affirmation of fundamental equality for so many of our fellow citizens was a real high point in the year for me and, I think, for the commonwealth as a whole.
Just yesterday, of course, I believe we made real progress on two important administration initiatives, first of all in the tax commission; the commission considered the evidence and the arguments and cast a definitive vote in favor or a fairer corporate tax system and that is good news. Combined reporting and check the box conformity will bring us in line with modern tax practice around the country and I look forward to working on appropriate reductions in the corporate tax rate as well, something that has been on my mind for most of this year which I believe we can achieve consistent with the reasons for trying to modernize and simplify the tax code in the first place. And in the case of the resort casino proposal I am grateful indeed that yesterday we had the first opportunity to present the administrations views and arguments in favor of this proposal to legislators. I think we have a sound a plan and we showed broad support for that plan and I am looking forward to moving on it next year. Both of these debates on our continued focus for finding cost savings and efficiencies in state government are critical as we face the current difficult budget challenges coming up next year. But they are not challenges beyond our capacity to focus on them or to solve. When came into office last year there was a $1.1 or $1.2 billion dollar gap as well. And we have proposed at that time some $700 million dollars in efficiencies and a variety of other strategies to close that gap. So while this is a serious challenge and a slightly bigger gap even than next year than in this last one it is not beyond our capacity to address it. Its important that we all be focus but that we not panic. And at the same time that we make clear, sure, certain and wise investments so that we are growing in this economy in the long term. These developments plus other work we have done has set the table for what I believe will be a very successful 2008. We look forward to continuing our work to grow jobs and expand our economy.
The life science's initiative, a key part of that we have agreement on action from the legislature by early February. The energy bill which has been another key collaborative effort between the administration and the house and the senate. It's something that we look forward to early action on in the new legislative session.
Mass-Trans, which some of you know a little bit about, an effort we've been working on to simplify to the transportation bureaucracy and the way we deliver that service across the commonwealth, re-thinking how we fund and manage our roads and rails and other transportation infrastructure, we believe has great upside in terms of the performance in transportation here in the commonwealth in cost savings as well. And we will continue to press our thinking on that. And the implementation on our five year capital plan to invest in our transportation, housing, public higher education and environment. These are all initiatives we will continue next year.
The resort casino plan, we will continue to press, and we will press for a vote in the coming year. And workforce development will have to remain central in how we strengthen this economy and prepare the workforce in for the jobs we continue to create.
In terms of schools the Readiness Project should have its recommendations ready by the spring time. There will be a whole host of both administrative initiatives and legislative proposals, I am sure that will come out of that. I look forward to their report and continued focus on this. And I know that this is the kind of long term thinking and governing that will make a transformative difference in the lives of people in the commonwealth going forward.
Anti-crime initiatives, we continue to work on everything from Corey reform to supervised release. We have an anti-crime legislative package that has been sitting in the legislator and we do look forward to pressing for its full consideration and a vote and obviously the budget, which is something we have been working on hard for the last several weeks. We want it to reflect both sensible spending in tough fiscal times but also investments in the things we know the people of the commonwealth need and hope for from their state government. So it's been a good first and I think next year will be even better