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Patrick Hopes To Find Middle Ground In Budget Battle43:00

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Gov. Deval Patrick in his State House office in January (Nicholas Dynan for WBUR)
Gov. Deval Patrick in his State House office in January (Nicholas Dynan for WBUR)

Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday reiterated his desire to cut health costs for cities and towns across the state while also granting labor a voice in negotiations.

He cited past instances in which he's navigated the tensions of reforming state government before.

“Here in Massachusetts, we have reformed the pension system, the transportation bureaucracy, we’ve done education reform, we’ve done some reforms already in health care," Patrick told Radio Boston. "And in every one of those cases labor has been at the table.”

The state budget passed by the House last week contains a health care provision that union leaders say is bad for members. The provision, backed by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, would allow cities and towns to alter some aspects of employee health plans without union approval.

Patrick wouldn't say if he supported the measure, but he sounded like a man trying to balance competing interests.

“For me to have a bill that I would sign, it has to both deliver real results — real savings to cities so that we can maintain as many municipal services as possible — and have a meaningful role for labor,” Patrick said.

Past Shaping Future

For his part, Patrick has experience balancing differing interests. As a young man he left the poor, black south side of Chicago for a scholarship at tony — and mostly white — Milton Academy. He wrote about negotiating the separate sides of himself in his recently released memoir, "A Reason to Believe." (Excerpt)

“I think there are, in many ways, examples in the book of my having to figure it out in new and evermore challenging settings," Patrick said. "And I think I learned early on that I was capable of figuring it out and that it was kind of fun to be in a setting that was unfamiliar and where you could try new things.”

As one would expect, his transition to the suburban prep school wasn't always easy.

“Each community made me feel like rejection of the other was the price of acceptance," Patrick said. "And I had to understand that that was a false choice — that what I had to sort out is who I am, what my values were, and to be that all the time. That was what was going to enable me to move from one place to another.”

As the state budget heads from the House to the state Senate and on to the governor's desk, Patrick will likely have to rely on that experience balancing seemingly contradictory equations.


  • Gov. Deval Patrick


This segment aired on May 3, 2011.

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