Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick delivered his final State of The Commonwealth address Tuesday night. He looked back on his seven years in office and laid out a modest agenda for his last year in office.
Patrick said his strategy over the last seven years of investing in education, rebuilding infrastructure, reforming the state’s transportation network, and backing initiatives in the life sciences and in clean energy had helped lead the state out of the Great Recession that took hold just a year into his first term. As he prepares to close out his final term he called on legislators to stay the course.
" Economic growth matters -- not just because it creates wealth, though that is good. Growth matters because it creates opportunity, and opportunity is fundamental to who we are."
Patrick’s final state of the commonwealth speech was interrupted several times by thunderous applause. He received a standing ovation when he called for raising the state’s minimum wage
"To those who are reluctent to raise the minimum wage I ask you to consider whether you can live on it."
Patrick touted Massachusetts as a national leader in student achievement, in health care coverage, energy efficiency and in veterans’ services. He said Massachusetts is a more competitive state for business now than it was seven years ago.
" I know Massachusetts is back in the leadership business and the state of our Commonwealth is strong."
Declaring that the recession is not over for everybody, Patrick called for help for the long- term unemployed and for children living in poverty. He called on the private sector to do more hiring, and he called on the legislature to adopt a plan he put forth last year to expand early childhood education.
" We here tonight in this chamber have a duty to help all our people help themselves."
Other items on Patrick’s modest legislative agenda include changes to the state unemployment insurance system and passage of a bond bill to pay for transportation projects. He also pledged to fix the state’s troubled child welfare agency and the malfunctioning website for the state’s health insurance marketplace.
Patrick who is not running for a third term issued a challenge for people to become engaged in state government and even consider running for office.
Patrick included a few personal reflections on his time as governor. He said the experience was humbling, enlightening, and surprisingly fun. He said he was most proud of the way Massachusetts responded to last April’s Marathon bombings.
'" These are the people --at the most trying moment of the last seven years-- when the eyes of the world were on showed the world and each other what a strong community looks like."
Patrick was scheduled to give the speech a week ago, but postponed it because of the threat of a snowstorm. Some of the anticipation that typically accompanies the state of the commonwealth speech was taken away when the governor had to release his budget message last week ahead of the formal address.