FRAMINGHAM, Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday struck a confident tone when speaking about the state’s economic recovery, seeking also to reassure Bay Staters that his administration is focused on communities throughout the state, not just in Greater Boston.
“This recovery is not going to leave them behind,” Patrick said, in an interview with WBUR’s Bob Oakes in a special live broadcast here.
Campaigning for re-election, Patrick has been touting Massachusetts’ early economic recovery relative to other states and his work on job creation, education and health care. Massachusetts has added 65,000 jobs this year.
The governor did acknowledge “different economic conditions in different parts of the state.” He said he is aware of the imbalance in the state’s economic recovery — the growth in some regions and stagnations in others — but said he has “governed and will continue to govern the whole state.”
“I know people are hurting, and that’s why I work every day to relieve some of that pain,” he said. “Our strategy, as you know, has been to invest in job creation and in education and in health care because that’s how we believe we make a stronger commonwealth, and we’re getting results.”
Patrick touted legislation that seeks to ease health care costs for small businesses. He said that new law has been lauded by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.
“We’ve got to be putting things like this in place that, as a practical matter, help — but also keeping our confidence and optimism up, and leading with optimism,” he said. “That is a part of how we climb out of this hole, too. I’m very optimistic about the future and that’s because of the strategy we have.”
For communities farther west, Patrick said the lack of high-speed Internet access remains a challenge. He touted a broadband bill and the state’s securing of a federal grant as steps his administration has taken to address that challenge.
“I know people are hurting, and that’s why I work every day to relieve some of that pain.”
He also said infrastructure development, the recasting of old buildings and the fixing of neglected roads and bridges, would help struggling one-time mill towns such Ware, which WBUR will visit Wednesday as part of its week-long Route 9 series.
“It’s a way to create jobs right now but also a platform for economic development going forward,” Patrick said.
The governor said he is trying to introduce companies looking for back-office operations to communities in the western part of the state, where costs are lower.
On immigration, Patrick said it’s important to consider legal immigrants when forming state policy.
“(We) have to be and ought to be a welcoming state,” Patrick said. “Four out of five immigrants here in the commonwealth are fully documented and legal, and as we deal with the question of illegal immigration we’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t sweep up the thousands of legal immigrants and new American citizens.”
As he travels Route 9 this week, WBUR’s Bob Oakes will speak with the four candidates for governor.