As reported previously, The Eisenthal Report spoke with Massachusetts Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick this afternoon in a 25 minute interview that covered his budgetary priorities, his views on the problems facing Springfield and other Massachusetts cities and towns, his attitudes toward the office of Governor, and other issues.
TER asked Patrick about his budgetary priorities - whether there are areas in the current state budget in which he would have pushed for greater funding and areas in which he would have used the gubernatorial line-item veto. Patrick identified public higher education as a priority. He believes that "additional resources are going to be required" for public higher education. He noted additional monies added by the Legislature for public higher education, but said "I am not convinced yet that it is enough in order to say confidently that we are on a path to having a consistently excellent public higher education system - and we need that." Patrick sees this as an important economic issue for Massachusetts. He feels that Massachusetts' "reputation as a center of excellence in higher education is overdependent on the presence of a couple of large famous private research institutions and it doesn't have to be that way." He feels that "we have to be willing to make an investment" in higher education as the State of California did fifty years ago.
Patrick also identified health care as a budgetary priority which may require additional budgetary resources "depending on which of the pending proposals or other we decide to put our backs into."
As for items that Patrick would have vetoed, he was not specific, but he did say that "it is incumbent on any responsible executive to lead the administration and legislature in an examination of what government does not have to do, or what could be done better elsewhere." Patrick said that he would be studying ideas for such budgetary reductions "over the summer."
In another comment on the state's fiscal situation, Patrick questioned whether the recent spike in state revenues is "sustainable" given the amount of revenues coming from capital gains taxes.
TER asked Patrick about any specific policies he would propose to address the issues of crime, corruption, and fiscal weakness in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. Patrick raised, though not did not necessarily endorse, the possibility of receivership for Springfield "to help it deal with issues of corruption and mismanagement that have plagued" the City. He cited a conversation with an unnamed former state official who expressed the thought that "Springfield should just go on and let itself into receivership" in order to deal with the issues that face it. While he did not clearly come out for receivership, Patrick did say that he favors active state involvement in Springfield - "not just money, but also ideas and frankly political cover." Patrick blamed some of Springfield's fiscal problems on the state "starving the City of local aid." Patrick feels that Springfield, like many other Massachusetts communities, is too dependent on the property tax, which he feels is "inefficient and regressive."
In discussing public corruption in Springfield and elsewhere in the Commonwealth, Patrick took the opportunity to criticize rival Democratic candidate and state Attorney General Tom Reilly, saying "I can't tell you of a single anti-corruption investigation by our Attorney General anywhere in Massachusetts." Patrick feels that the state Attorney General's office is well-placed to be able to take the lead in such investigations, because it is more insulated from political pressures that face local District Attorney's offices.
TER asked Patrick how the fact that every Massachusetts Governor elected in the past 25 years has sought or been touted for the Presidency or been appointed by the President to federal office affects the ability of any Massachusetts Governor to do the job. Patrick responded that he is "not positioning himself for higher office" and that he seeks the Governorship "in order to do the job." He feels that "the job hasn't been done by the people holding the office for some while."
TER asked whether Patrick found the African-American community in Springfield and elsewhere to be especially responsive to his message. He said "I think responsive. I still have a lot of people to meet. I get very warm and encouraging responses from all kinds of communities." He feels that his "job and opportunity" is to "invite people back into the political process who have given up on it because they have been disappointed so often."
TER concluded the interview by asking Patrick about his personal strengths and weaknesses. Patrick believes that his strengths include "being a good listener" and "action-oriented." He saw his key weakness as being "impatient."