THE PHOENIX I live not far from there.
PATRICK So you know its been shuttered for 20 years or something like that. Well, it's not going to be shuttered for long. We are re-furbishing it and in fact making it a year-round facility. That work starts this summer.
There was so much excitement about it when we went out to announce it — it's a great project. That is a project in a five-year capital plan that we update every year. It is measured against an affordability analysis that has been vetted with the rating agencies. It's very ambitious. We're able to afford it because the interest rates the commonwealth pays are low. The reason our interest rates are low is because of our AA bond rating. The reason our AA bond rating is low is because of how we have managed this budget. These dots connect.
And the higher-ed investments are in that capital plan. There's a building that was phase one of it — the new science building out at UMass — that was just finished on account of this and a second phase in that, that will start soon. Same is true of the UMass Worcester medical building. And there's a plan — you know about the master plan at UMass Boston — a lot of that is funded through the capital plan.
So no, we're not going to be turning on it right away but the difference from being in a state of denial and neglect and the accumulated cost of that over the years and what we're trying to do with that today all across our infrastructure is a 180-degree turn.
So yes, I am — the short answer to your question — I am confident we will be able to do this. But we have to stay at it. We have to plan and adjust as conditions require.
THE PHOENIX On the ed-reform bill that passed earlier this year: there was a very long lead up; the Readiness Initiative, a lot of people put a lot of time and planning and thinking into this. My impression is that the final bill that came out, and while it included a number of things you wanted, it didn't include a lot of things that had been talked about in that project — primarily on the Readiness Initiative side of things. But overall: is the bill enough, does it give you enough in terms of tools going forward, to do what you want? Or are you looking at having to go back to the legislature for more tools going forward? More reform, sort of step-by-step?
PATRICK So the Readiness Project, which was incredibly exciting and valuable, was a 10-year strategy. It wasn't a one-bill strategy, and that was the way it was articulated and understood throughout the year of developing that strategy. This is the first piece, and it's a big first step. You know there are other parts of it that have to do with greater emphasis on early childhood education, and longer school day, and frankly, even longer school year that we're gong to have to come back to. And some of those initiatives — and I've been very candid about this — we've had to slow down because we had an economic emergency. We couldn't do all of it at once but we had never intended to do all of it at once and I do want to make sure that's clear.