A Closing Conversation With Gov. Deval Patrick

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Gov. Deval Patrick with WBUR's Bob Oakes (left). (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gov. Deval Patrick with WBUR's Bob Oakes (left). (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

With only a few weeks now remaining now in Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration, WBUR’s Bob Oakes sat down with the outgoing Massachusetts governor for the last time in his executive office on Beacon Hill.

The conversation began with a look back to Patrick's first inaugural address in 2007. In that speech, Patrick spoke of lifting up the poor and stabilizing the middle class.

Listen above to Gov. Patrick's full conversation on WBUR's Morning Edition.

Interview Highlights

On whether life is better for the poor and middle class today:

We've been trying mightily hard, and I think we've made a lot of progress. I think the work we've done investing in the schools — not just money but time and ideas — the work we've done around CORI reform, the work we've done to grow the economy to a point now where we have a 25-year high in employment, what we've done in terms of expanding health care — that's all about how government helps people help themselves, and that's what we set out to do.

On income inequality:  

A lot of focus on so-called income inequality is — for me, I think it's shorthand for a deeper problem, and that's mobility. Mobility to move from where you are to where you want to be. There's some more work to do. We've got some great results to show for it, but I think we're pointed in the right direction.

On whether the recession kept Patrick from addressing some of his priorities:

The answer is yes and no. The recession was profound, and its impact goes well beyond my legacy. Its impact was felt in peoples' homes and families. I think we have come out of recession faster than most other states and stronger than we were before. Not only have we regained, in number, all the jobs we lost in the recession, but we've added a record-high level of employment on top of that — a 25-year high.

I think the other thing that happened, I would say as a consequence of the recession, is that we were able to make some reforms that would have been hard to make under normal circumstances. And when you consider out of the recession we have achieved nation-leading statuses in student achievement, health care coverage, veterans services, energy efficiency — on independent surveys and so much more — I think we've got a lot to show for what we all came through together.

On whether it's accurate to say he's hinted he might be a presidential candidate beyond 2016:

Well I'm not hinting anything. I'm not a candidate in 2016. I don't have any plans beyond 2016. I wouldn't even have answered the question had it not been for the fact that a surprising number of people from a range of stations in life from all over the country have been asking me to think about it. I'm new. I've run for one office, two times. And I ran for this office, Bob, not to get some other job but to do this job. And now I am going into the private sector, to get reacquainted with my wife and my family — and what happens in the future, politically, is not something I've made plans around.

On whether he wishes he had more time in office:

I'm ready. Eight years, it's gone by in a flash, but it's time. I mean there are other things I wish we had accomplished, but when I consider the fact that, legislatively, they've had a couple of the most productive terms in 30 or 40 years, that we have nation-leading results on so many levels, that we're pointed in the right direction and have a promising future, I feel pretty good.

This article was originally published on December 16, 2014.

This segment aired on December 16, 2014.

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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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