Although the recession opened up a $9 billion budget gap over the past two fiscal years, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has promised not to cut funding to education and to use the state's high bond rating to invest in construction projects.
"Investing in infrastructure means that, now and even more so in the coming spring construction season, new bridges will be built, exit ramps and roads are being restored, broadband cable is being laid under I-91, stations, office parks, medical research buildings, parking garages are all going up - investments that put people to work today and become the economic enabler of tomorrow," he said in his state of the commonwealth address Jan. 21 to the Democratic-controlled legislature.
Patrick, who is running for re-election this year, also hailed the state for extending health insurance to almost everybody although he vowed to work towards lowering premiums. He called for tighter ethics and lobbying rules and more investment in alternative energy.
Despite his hopeful message, the governor acknowledged the recession drove the state's unemployment rate up to 9.4 percent at the end of last year. He promised to work to bring jobs to the state but urged residents to stay upbeat.
"Be angry - but channel it in a positive direction. It's easy to be against things. It takes tough-mindedness and courage to be for something," he said.
Massachusetts just held Jan. 19 a closely-watched special election for the U.S. Senate seat long-held by the late Ted Kennedy in which Republican Scott Brown upset Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D). Deval congratulated Brown and pledged to work with him.