There is not a lot of big news coming out of the string of interviews Governor Deval Patrick is doing this week -- including one with me -- other than the fact that he's doing them at all. Patrick has not always made, shall we say, warm outreach to the fourth estate. Clearly, as he indicated in his one-on-one with me Tuesday afternoon, he hopes to get more positive press coverage in the second term, and I'd say he has realized the futility of his first-term strategy of sitting behind closed doors being bitter about the negative coverage. Hence the invitation to outlets across the state for these pre-inauguration interviews, and strong intimations that there will be more of this kind of access to come.
Of course, these kinds of sessions with the press are a lot easier now, when the legislature is not in session, and the governor is not under much fire or in pitched battle on many fronts. We'll see how it goes when things get more heated on Beacon Hill.
The video of the interview is below. After Patrick's opening pitch -- he says he's eager to tackle health-care cost containment, and to start using the tools from last year's ed reform law to start tackling the achievement gap -- I asked him three questions taken from readers of this blog. The first was about health-care costs, and particularly rising premiums; Patrick spoke about some measures already taken, and about the importance of moving quickly on the next stages, but was not very specific about what those moves will be. The second question was about declining public investment in tourism (and, I added, arts and culture), despite the well-established fiscal benefits -- he essentially said we've got no money for that. Honest, if disheartening. The third concerned transportation cost savings, and again he spoke eagerly but perhaps not as specifically as some would like.
I also asked him about the looming, and many would argue unsustainable, costs of public employee benefits, to which Patrick went out of his way to applaud the unions for working with him on reforms thus far, before talking about what more needs to be done. I also asked him about the nature of today's unemployment, to which I thought he gave a very thoughtful answer.
Anyway, watch for yourself -- and thanks to all those who sent in questions!!!