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Gov. Patrick on unfinished business, the pain of budget cuts and what’s next

Deval Patrick will leave the Corner Office next month after two terms.Nicolaus Czarnecki

Outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick says he is still undecided about his future plans.

Speaking during his last “Ask the Governor” radio show Thursday, Patrick said private equity firms and universities have approached him and that he wouldn’t rule out working as a consultant or testing the public speaking circuit.

“The flirtations have begun,” said Patrick, who will be leaving the Corner Office in January after serving two terms as governor.

Patrick said the budget cuts that affected state programs like the controversy-plagued Department of Children and Families (DCF) were among the toughest calls he had to make as the state’s chief executive. DCF has been troubled with allegations regarding lackluster care rendered to children.

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“When I think about some of the issues around DCF, those issues have roots in those budget cuts,” said Patrick, who was the state’s first black governor.

Patrick said attempting to reform the criminal justice system, specifically with regards to sentencing and reintegration programs for convicted criminals, was also a challenge.

The state, according to Patrick, should continue to move away from “putting sentencing on autopilot” and allow judges leeway on sentences, particularly with regards to nonviolent drug crimes.

He said he would have preferred if property taxes were decreased in more communities across the state.

Responding to a question about what he would have done differently, Patrick demurred, saying “there are things you can’t anticipate” like the economic collapse in 2008, or the state crime lab scandal wherein one chemist faked tests on evidence in drug cases that involved 40,000 people between 2002 and 2011. Once the scheme was uncovered, hundreds were released from jail because of the tainted evidence.

President Barack Obama called the program – introducing himself as “Barack Obama formerly of Somerville” – to congratulate Patrick for his governorship. He hailed the governor’s record on jobs, education and health care access.

“Deval, you done good, man,” said Obama.

Patrick, a Democrat who did not seek re-election, will be succeed by Republican Charlie Baker. He denied any interest in running for presidency in 2016, but was flattered, nonetheless: “It really blows my mind that people would ask a kid from the southside of Chicago a question like that,” Patrick said. “It’s a great, great country.”

 
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