We were worried. During his first 6 months in office the Governor had unveiled a number of new initiatives that appear on the shelf, anyway, as if they will have expensive price tags: $1 billion in BioTech funding, the $1.4 billion rail line to New Bedford, and K through post-12 education reforms which some critics claim will cost as much as $2 billion annually. These on top of outstanding liabilities that add up to almost double the Commonwealth’s annual budget: $14.488 billion for public employee pensions, $13 billion for public employee healthcare obligations, and roughly $17 billion for maintaining public assets that have too long been ignored. Of course, the question is: how do we pay for all of this? I leave that answer to speculation.
With this in mind, we were happy to hear the Governor speak soberly at Pioneer’s Better Government Competition awards dinner Tuesday of free markets and the hard choices we face as a Commonwealth. In his eloquent address, Governor Patrick informed Pioneer and 360 supporters, sponsors, friends and new acquaintances, that, having stepped across the partisan line to get to know him, many of his critics were surprised to find a capitalist on the other side. However, he disclaimed a completely free market had the ability to address all of the problems confronting us both as a Commonwealth and as a society.
We agree with the Governor, but with one very big caveat: though free markets may be unable to address all of the problems we currently face, they sure can address a lot more if we just let them. From affordable housing in underutilized markets such as Springfield to reducing the cost of living around Boston to delivering a better education to the thousands of children still stuck in underperforming schools, the application of free markets would dramatically improve the lives of so many of Massachusetts’ citizens. But, again, that is if we let them.
We are pleased to hear that Governor Patrick is, after all, a capitalist. We strongly encourage him to explore free market solutions to the problems he faces and will continue to face as Governor. And if he needs help developing those solutions, Pioneer is ready to step up and volunteer its services. Give us a call any time, Governor.