In his State of the Commonwealth address Thursday night, Gov. Deval Patrick said he wants to tackle unemployment, lower property taxes and cut health care costs, but provided few details on how he would accomplish those goals in the year ahead.
Holding up Brockton High students as aspiration for how to make the best out of tough times, Gov. Deval Patrick told residents that in the struggle against the economic crisis “our best days lie ahead.”
In his State of the Commonwealth address Thursday night, Patrick said he wants to tackle unemployment, reduce property taxes and cut health care costs but provided few details on how he would accomplish those goals in the year ahead.
After the speech, Democrats praised Patrick for striking the right chord by making job growth a priority – and for vowing not to cut education funding. But Republicans slammed it as an empty speech that failed to lay out concrete proposals, including a job growth plan.
Patrick urged voters angry over the fiscal crisis and soaring unemployment rate to “channel it in a positive direction.”
That, he said, is what the Brockton students did when they started a buddy program to pair regular-ed students with special needs children to help them make friends.
“In a city as hard hit as any by the economic crisis, these young people did not sit around wondering and worrying what to do and who was going to do it,” Patrick said.
State Treasurer Timothy Cahill, one of three contenders vying for Patrick’s job in November, said he heard “nothing new” in the speech.
“We’re happy for Brockton, and that program may be good for the kids, but it doesn’t help the mother of the kids who might be out of work,” Cahill, of Quincy, said in a phone interview. He did not attend the speech due to a prior commitment but listened to it, he said.
Hours before the speech, the state released new job figures for December, showing the loss of 8,400 jobs and an unemployment rate that shot up to 9.4 percent.
“With those new numbers that came in today, I would’ve re-written the speech,” Cahill said.
Heading into what many predict may be a tough election year for Democrats – especially after Martha Coakley’s crushing defeat earlier this week – political experts said Patrick needed to send a strong message that pocketbook issues top his agenda.
South Shore Democrats said they believe Patrick accomplished just that.
“I think that was his best State of the State speech ever,” said state Sen. Brian Joyce, D-Milton. “I think he recognized it’s all about the economy.”
Joyce said he didn’t believe the speech needed too many specifics, saying its purpose is to provide “broad strokes.”
State Rep. Garrett Bradley, D-Hingham, said, “He indicated he understands the anxiety people feel. ... These types of speeches are not conducive for getting into details.”
Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Hanson, sharply disagreed.
“I couldn’t think of a better venue to provide those details,” he said. “If the governor wants to be a real leader, he ought to put together a concrete proposal.”
Nancy Reardon may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
DID HE DELIVER?
These are major goals the governor laid out in his 2007 inaugural address and his State of the Commonwealth address last January.
Yes, he got it done:
No, he didn’t get it done:Change the law on what is public about an individual’s criminal history Property tax relief
Yes and No:
The state implemented health care reform during Patrick’s first year (yes). A plan to rein in costs is still on his wish list (no).
Will he deliver?
These are major goals the governor laid out for 2010 in his State of the Commonwealth address Thursday night:Reduce the cost of health insurance for small businesses and families. Lower the state’s unemployment rate. He didn’t lay out a jobs plan. “Find a way” to bring property taxes down. “Reinvent” state government and consolidate more agencies. Give communities new tools to cut costs and raise revenues.