Outgoing Boston Mayor Thomas Menino gave his final speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday in what was likely his last major address as mayor of Boston.
Menino, who has served 20 years in office and will leave City Hall in less than a month, gave an optimistic outlook for Boston, but also talked about the challenges facing Mayor-elect Marty Walsh.
“We worked to deliver the city in outstanding financial shape,” Menino said in his prepared remarks. “I am proud that the 2014 budget is on track and on target. The new mayor will inherit a balanced budget, healthy reserves, a growing tax base and a triple-A bond rating, the highest in Boston’s history.”
Menino added that while he believes Boston is “poised to achieve great new heights,” he sees “three greatchanges that will make the task of leading especially tough.”
Those changes are: the decline in federal financial support that will impact nonprofits and the research sector; the increase in the income inequality between the rich and the poor; and the rising cost of higher education, which he sees as a threat to Boston’s economy.
“Costs of college are putting it further out of reach and technology is making it easier to access education in other ways,” Menino said. “Both are potential threats to this pillar of Boston’s economy and the thing that creates the most appeal for our businesses and visitors.”
After Menino leaves office he will begin working at Boston University as co-director of the Initiative on Cities. He mentioned that and made a joke at his own expense in his speech.
“The next time I give a big speech like this, it will probably be in a lecture hall. You are welcome to come, but I am a very tough grader,” Menino said. “Professor Menino. Think about that for a second.”
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.