Jan. 24, 2012
BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick called on lawmakers to strengthen the state's community colleges, lower health care costs and revise the state's criminal sentencing laws during his sixth State of the Commonwealth address on Monday night.
Patrick emphasized the need for the state to have more control over community colleges. Right now the state's 15 community colleges operate independently, but the governor said they should be overseen by a Central Board, which can focus the schools on helping people of all ages find middle-skill, middle-class jobs.
In the 25-minute speech, Patrick also renewed his support for the Legislature's three strikes bill, which would eliminate parole for individuals convicted three times of violent felonies like kidnapping, rape or murder. But he said at the same time, non violent drug offenders should be eligible for parole sooner.
Patrick also urged lawmakers to pass his bill dramatically changing the health care payment system. He said the current fee-for-service mode — where doctors and hospitals get paid for each test and procedure they order — just isn’t working.
After the speech, Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, said lawmakers have been working on a health care cost containment bill that she hopes will go to the governor's desk this year.
Republicans lawmakers faulted the governor for not spending enough time talking about how to improve the business climate in Massachusetts, which they said is the best way to create new jobs.
Patrick is set to release more details about his community college plan when he presents his budget proposal for the next fiscal year on Wednesday.