Patrick: Tough times are no time for state to hunker down

Associated Press | 1/21/2009, 4:04 a.m.
Sonia Chang-Diaz (left) is congratulated by Gov. Deval Patrick (right) after the swearing-in of state senators at the State House recently. Don West

At times, the speech took on a personal tone, as when he called on state residents to refuse to succumb to defeat in the face of increasingly grim financial news.

“When I was growing up, we were forbidden from calling ourselves ‘poor,’” Patrick said. “My grandmother taught us to say we were broke, because ‘broke,’ she said, is temporary.”

He also sounded a somber note when referencing the ongoing toll that crime and violence continues to exact on minority communities across the state and said “in what feels like a personal tragedy for me,” the alarming rates at which black men are killing other black men.

Despite the challenges facing the state, Patrick said, the state needs to look forward.

“Hunkering down may be good advice in a hurricane, but it is not leadership,” he said. “The times we are in are tough, but temporary.”

The speech received mixed reviews, largely along party lines.

House Republican Leader Brad Jones faulted Patrick for being light on details. He said his rhetorical skills masked his failures to revamp the way business is done on Beacon Hill.

“We’ve had two years for meaningful reforms, and we haven’t seen a lot of that,” Jones said. “We’ll have to see if those actions match the rhetoric.”

Senate Republican Leader Richard Tisei said he was hoping to hear exactly where Patrick planned to make budget cuts.

He also criticized Patrick for fostering an “anti-business” climate on Beacon Hill at a time when the state should be doing more to lure employers. He pointed to Patrick’s support of legislation designed to close what the governor described as corporate tax “loopholes.”

“People want to know what the Legislature and state government in general is going to do to make the state more affordable,” said Tisei, R-Wakefield. “We should have an economic recovery plan here in Massachusetts like they are doing on the national level.”

Patrick’s speech won higher marks from fellow Democrats.

House Ways and Means Chairman Robert DeLeo credited Patrick for showing leadership in dire times.

“He talked about ethics reform, he talked about pension reform, transportation reform,” said DeLeo, D-Winthrop. “I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.”

(Associated Press)