Patrick Delivers Final State Of The Commonwealth Address

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick delivers his State of the State address Tuesday. (Steven Senne/AP)

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick delivers his State of the State address Tuesday. (Steven Senne/AP)

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick’s final State of the Commonwealth address Tuesday night was light on policy. But it was a forceful speech in its own way.

Patrick, entering his final year in office, took a stab at his own legacy — speaking of balanced budgets, land conserved and a booming tech sector.

“Today, Massachusetts is first in the nation in student achievement, in health care coverage, in economic competitiveness, in entrepreneurial activity, in venture funding, in energy efficiency and in veterans’ services,” he said.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick greets lawmakers and guests as he enters the House chamber before his State of the State address. (Steven Senne/AP)

Patrick greets lawmakers and guests as he enters the House chamber before his State of the State address. (Steven Senne/AP)

But the governor also tapped into a central theme in American politics — a theme President Obama would sound in his State of the Union address a couple of hours later: the problem of inequality.

Not everyone, Patrick said, has shared in the state’s prosperity.

And the governor, who grew up poor on the South Side of Chicago, spoke of the issue in personal terms.

“Because there are children here in our own commonwealth tonight whose future is still defined by the ZIP code of their birth,” he said. “I was once one of those kids. And for all my blessings, I have not forgotten.”

Last year, the governor made a big policy push in his State of the Commonwealth speech, calling for $1.9 billion in new taxes to fund major investments in education and transportation.

The Legislature passed a much smaller package, totaling $500 million. And this year’s budget reflects the governor’s scaled-back ambitions.

Still, Patrick issued a broad call for assisting those struggling to make ends meet.

And the governor got his only standing ovation when he called for a hike in the state’s minimum wage — and a few murmurs when he issued a challenge to opponents.

“To those who are reluctant to raise the minimum wage, I ask only that, before you resolve to oppose it, consider whether you could live on it,” he said.

The governor did briefly acknowledge a couple of the controversies that have dogged the administration in recent months.

The state’s health care website, known as the Connector, has faltered. And the Department of Children and Families (DCF) lost track of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy now presumed dead.

“It’s inexcusable to lose any child we are charged with protecting,” Patrick said. “And it’s frustrating to offer a public convenience that is anything but convenient. Time after time, when problems arise, we have kept our wits about us, gathered the facts soberly and thoughtfully, and stepped up to find solutions, not just fault. Now, as in the past, we will do it again.”

But if Patrick won applause in the chamber, there are some in the Legislature concerned that the administration’s probe of DCF may not go deep enough.

“I think we all have to remember that there was a child who died here,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said after the speech. “I think we have to look from top to bottom in terms of the operation of DCF.”

There is also a realization that Patrick’s budget is in for some serious revision in the Legislature.

That explains why former state Rep. Marty Walsh, now mayor of Boston, did not seem too concerned about a spending blueprint that provides no new aid to cities and towns.

“I’ve been — I was a state rep for 16.5 years,” Walsh said. “I know that’s the first — the first round of it, so I’m not worried. I’ll wait for round two and three to come out.”

A reminder that however eloquent the governor’s speech — whatever nostalgia there might be about his tenure — he’s still got another tough year of governing ahead of him.

Patrick acknowledged as much at the close of his speech.

“So now is no time for valedictories,” he said. “We have work to do. Let’s get to it.”

The question now is whether lawmakers will work with this popular, but lame-duck governor in his final year — or whether they will look to the future.

As Patrick left the House chamber Tuesday night, shaking hands as he went, one of the people vying to succeed him, Attorney General Martha Coakley, was just a few steps behind.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • X-Ray

    Patrick asserted that Massachusetts grew faster than any state in the region. By region, he meant New England. Nationwide, Massachusetts was 25th out of 50 states. Nothing to write home about.

    • Magik13

      Youre wrong and have your states mixed up…. the Governor was right. This state is much much better off from when Repugnican Romney was running it into the ground.

      • X-Ray

        Sorry to confuse you with the facts. You may want to check my assertions. You will find them 100% correct. You may check the recent Boston Globe Ref: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/01/01/massachusetts-population-growth-rate-ahead-other-new-england-states-but-still-slow/r7PLcdbKnD9HZY3fm97XGP/story.html

        • Magik13

          I could not verify a single thing you claimed. Where did u get your info? Faux Nooz?

          • X-Ray

            Just click on the reference and read it. You are capable of that, no?

        • dust truck
          • X-Ray

            The quote is, “Today, instead of leaving in droves, young people and families are moving into Massachusetts. Our population is growing again — faster than the rest of the region, in fact — reversing the long decline of past years.” Check it out.

          • dust truck

            You really like cherrypicking your quotes to score political points eh? How about this quote from the same article: “But regionally, Massachusetts was the leader, with the other five New England states all ranking in the bottom 10 nationally in growth rate.”

            There’s nothing wrong with Deval’s statements, unless you think outperforming other New England states is boring?

          • X-Ray

            The quote was factually misleading, as my comment and the Boston Globe article supports. Sorry to knock your hero. Partick was Cherry-Picking his facts by comparing MA against a small group which is unrepresentative of the nation.

          • dust truck

            Not knocking my hero; I have no love for him, but I don’t like it when you make your own factually misleading statement to slander your political opponents.

            Let’s face it X-ray, your activity on these message boards for the past year has been solely to discredit Democrats by any means necessary. It’s distasteful and anti-democratic.

            Deval said that Mass population grew faster than any other state in the region. This isn’t a misstatement, it’s a fact. YOU said that it was 25th out of the nation, which is also a fact, but IRRELEVANT when comparing Massachusetts to the region. The main point of the speech was that Massachusetts is doing better, which is true.

          • X-Ray

            Please point out what portion of any of my statements are “factually misleading”. Your “irrelevent” is nevertheless factual, as reported by the Boston Globe article cited.

          • dust truck

            not so keen on the reading comprehension, eh? If you can’t understand plain english there is no point in my wasting time explaining it to you.

            Besides, what makes you think I have any idea about Magik’s motivations? You’re so paranoid you seem to assume everyone who disagrees with you is a biased Socialist.

          • X-Ray

            Typical liberal: If ou can’t attack the ideas, attack the individual. My response was to Magik. Then you jumped in.

          • dust truck

            Typical Republican, move goal posts and engage in non sequiturs to confuse the conversation.

            I’m not a liberal. I’m an independent who is tired of seeing insanity coming from a party he once supported.

          • X-Ray

            Another personal attack. Good bye.

  • CComry

    The head line should read, “Patrick Delivers His Final State of the Commonwealth Address”.

    • X-Ray

      One hopes so.

Most Popular