THE PHOENIX Related, but different question: let me ask a question that is a bit loaded with political implications. You need to carry Boston to win re-election, yet the state is slashing the library budget by 73 percent. It depends on who you listen to, but the projections are maybe as many as half of these libraries have to close, how do you explain . . .
PATRICK You understand that's mostly not Boston libraries, you do, don't you?
THE PHOENIX No, explain. Even before I got here today, I got an e-mail saying that state aid to the Boston Public Library system was going to be cut by 73 percent.
PATRICK Yeah, there's a lot of "this." This won't be picked up by the microphone, but I'm pointing in different directions.
First of all, I love libraries. I love public libraries, I want to support public libraries. We have an emergency. And the library budget, like almost every other line item in the budget we had proposed, has been touched.
We have, I think, a strong working relationship with all the cities and towns, including Boston, about how we partner. But I also think that all of the cities and towns, including Boston and the mayor, understand that the state isn't in a position to be the backstop for everything else, that there's stuff that has to happen at the local level as well.
That's what the Municipal Partnership Acts have been about, version one and version two — about how we give some new tools to raise revenue and cut costs at the local level, so that pressure is off the property tax and so that there's more latitude to manage at the local level.
I think there was something in today's [Boston] Globe about health-care costs, and some savings that could be gained by moving municipal health care into the state health-care system or a version of it, or giving more latitude to mayors and town managers and so forth.
THE PHOENIX Eminently sensible?
PATRICK Right, but nothing's easy, right? Even the sensible isn't easy. To the political question: look, I know that I've had to make a lot of unpopular decisions, some forced on us by the economy, but some just forced by the force of the fact that I believe that to make a better — well, let me back up. I believe that the reason I'm here is to make change, to make a better, stronger commonwealth, and to make some of those decisions. You have to have to call those hard questions.
Now, I'm not gunning for public libraries.
THE PHOENIX I didn't suggest you were.
PATRICK No, no, I know that, but I just want to be clear. In the same way, I'm not gunning for state employees. Still, I've had to eliminate 2200 positions already and there'll be more. And impose furloughs, and get concessions from the public-employee unions, and pay freezes, and cuts, and all the rest of it to manage through this crisis. We have a crisis. I'm confident we will get through it, but there are a lot of tough decisions.