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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Governor Patrick speaks at Global Trade Summit

Published: April 5, 2012
Section: Featured, News

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick met with raucous applause at Brandeis’ annual Global Trade Summit last Tuesday. He praised his own administration’s successes in the world economy and its recuperation in the country’s technology and business sectors.

Education, one of Patrick’s three main talking points at the summit, is currently the most contentious. With a 5 percent tuition hike at Brandeis, the cost of higher education, which Patrick says provides not only “intellectual capital” to Massachusetts but encourage investment and innovation as well, has steadily risen. Although the Massachusetts state budget proposed a 5 percent increase during the past year, its funding for education is still significantly reduced—27 percent, according to the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Last month, Patrick unveiled a plan to centralize oversight of the state’s community colleges, a plan that has been questioned by colleges, who claim they have a better understanding of what local businesses require in terms of training than a distant board of overseers does.

Still, Massachusetts has made gains in technology and biotechnology, according to Patrick, and has had “tremendous success” on their trade missions. “International companies are making Massachusetts their home away from home more often,” he said.

More than half of the students in Brandeis’ International Business School are from outside the United States, which means in a global economy, says Patrick, that “the International Business School gets it … and your state government, better and better every day, gets it.”

“The global economy waits for no one,” Patrick said, and the collaboration between the public, private and academic partnerships may lead to what Patrick calls “deeper commercial relations.”

His three tenets of education, innovation and infrastructure, he claimed, have done wonders for the Massachusetts economy, including the reduction of the average time required for permits from two years to six months, and a plan to revise any old regulations that might be outmoded and hamper economic growth. According to Patrick, Massachusetts has seen significant job growth and added 23-thousand new jobs since the beginning of this year. The jobless rate in Massachusetts, according to numbers released March 22, held at 6.9 percent, well below the national average of 8.3 percent.

Opposition has hotly contested his claim that Massachusetts is leading the country, saying that the Patrick administration’s numbers are skewed to make the state look like it is in a better economic position than it is. Still, Massachusetts is ahead of the nation in its rate of economic recovery.

Patrick’s commitment to Massachusetts infrastructure, he says, has led to a widening of health care, which he sees “as very much an infrastructure problem” and financial gains, including a bond rating that trumped most other states, after affordability analysis that his administration “took to Wall Street” and made a reality.

Despite the recent successes of the Patrick administration, he addressed the multitude of problems still present in the Massachusetts economy, particularly the “huge backlog” of infrastructure repairs and the current financial difficulties facing the MBTA. While Patrick is supportive of the intentions of the “Big Dig” which re-routed Boston’s I-93, he added “the way we paid for it was not honest” and had to be rectified for the T and connected institutions to thrive. According to The Boston Globe, Patrick has already asserted that he cannot imagine a way to fund the T without an increased gas tax or similar measure. At Brandeis’ Global Trade Summit, he reminded the audience, “We are exactly where I said we would be when I proposed the gas tax three years ago.”

The Trade Summit follows Bruce Magid, Brandeis International Business School Dean, and Governor Deval Patrick’s trip to Brazil last December, which aimed to build both cultural and commercial connections between the commonwealth and Brazil. Patrick has also traveled to India and Russia, and plans to “get back to Europe soon” to build the relationship between foreign nations and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Brandeis looks to gain from the trade missions by fostering student and faculty connections between other nations, most recently Brazil and India, where President Lawrence fostered connections this semester.