There has been a lot of discussion on BMG and elsewhere about some of the issues of the past few weeks and rightfully so. As a Commonwealth, everyone is feeling the impact of the national economic downturn, and we are all anxious about the future. Many are looking to the federal and state government to “pick up their game” and provide whatever help they can.
Governor Patrick understands that. It is why he worked so hard with the Obama administration on the federal stimulus legislation, and why he has launched the Massachusetts Recovery Plan to create jobs and secure our common economic future. It’s also why he has put forward a comprehensive transportation reform proposal, and ethics and pension reform initiatives, despite some of the political consequences.
But I can also assure you, having worked closely with him for now almost four years, that he does understand the importance of the issues of the past few weeks. One of the things that I think makes Governor Patrick different from others is that he does pay very close attention to what people are saying, thinks about it, and uses it to help shape his thinking and his actions.
We don’t always get everything right, and when we don’t, we try to own up to it, and to learn from it. Hopefully, you will agree as we move forward over the coming weeks.
At the same time, it is very encouraging to see the benefits of the Governor’s focus on long-term solutions paying off for the people of the Commonwealth. Here are just 5 examples of this from the past few days:
1. Governor Patrick delivered a significant victory in controlling health care costs recently, by holding the line on government spending on health care without reducing benefits or increasing costs for members.
2. Today’s Boston Globe article highlights Geico’s entrance into the MA auto insurance market, bringing more choice and lower premiums for consumers. This is the eighth new insurer to enter the market since the inception of managed competition, and is a strong endorsement of Governor Patrick’s bold move in this direction last year.
3. Read State Representatives John Keenan’s and Brian Wallace’s editorial in the Boston Herald today describing the economic benefits to the Commonwealth of the film tax credit initiative passed by the Governor and the Legislature last year. According to the Reps, the tax credit could bring in more than 5,000 new jobs with annual salaries between $40,000 and $70,000.
4. This past week, Governor Patrick’s efforts to include education funding in the federal stimulus legislation paid off for Massachusetts. The Governor announced $168 in recovery funds to be used to bring all communities not already there up to foundation level budgets. Yesterday, the Governor announced an an additional $280 million for MA school districts from the federal stimulus package to help pay the cost of special education. This is an extremely important commitment in tough budget times, and something the Governor worked closely on with the Obama administration to make happen for our children.
5. Through the collective efforts of the Governor, Senate President and Speaker, we were able to come to consensus on a plan for delivering real reform in our transportation system and a timeline for developing a revenue stream to support our long-term needs in this area. At the same time, we were able to delay hiking the tolls on the Turnpike to give everyone time to deliver a long-term solution. This is a major breakthrough, given the long-standing avoidance of this problem by past administrations and the importance this issue has in securing our common economic future.
In addition, the Governor will continue the commitment he has maintained throughout his first term to talk to voters directly about the issues facing our Commonwealth. As many of you know, Governor Patrick has done many town hall meetings, local meetings in living rooms and coffee shops, and get-togethers with local activists and officials over the past two years. This Thursday, he will hold a live town meeting at the JFK Library which will be broadcast on NECN to discuss current economic issues in Massachusetts.