SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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January 29, 2014

Patrick reflects on past, future

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick looked back at his legacy and ahead to his last year in office as he delivered his final State of the State address yesterday.

Patrick pledged to continue to make government more effective, calling for an overhaul of Massachusetts’ unemployment insurance system and vowing to pass legislation making it easier to register to vote.

The governor also said he’s working to fix the state’s health insurance website and strengthen the Department of Children and Families in the wake of the disappearance of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who was under state care before he went missing. The boy is feared dead.

The governor renewed his call for an increase in the state’s minimum wage. The proposal was met with a standing ovation in the Massachusetts House chamber, which was filled with state lawmakers and members of the administration.

Patrick pointed to education as one area that, despite the state’s first-in-the-nation ranking in key test scores, still needs more work to reach every child.

He said the state has made progress in other areas but can’t rest on its laurels. “We lead the country in student achievement, but some of our students remain stuck in achievement gaps. We’re using better tools to combat youth violence but still lose too many people to a cycle of violence. We are the only state to guarantee emergency shelter, but too many people need it,” he said.

While the economic recovery is continuing, Patrick said, he also believes too many in the state are being left behind.

“The recession is not over for everybody,” the governor said. “The single most important solution is economic growth, growth that reaches out to the marginalized not just up to the well-connected.”

Patrick also took time to look back and offer his version of his legacy in office, saying the state was able to rally in the face of daunting challenges while overhauling the state’s pension system and working to bring down health care costs.

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