EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

December 31, 2012

Patrick looks ahead to final 2 years in office

BOSTON (AP) — As Deval Patrick embarks on the final two years of his second — and he says his last — term as governor, the Democrat is grappling with recent failures of government oversight, a lackluster economy, a cabinet shake-up and increasing speculation about who might take his place on Beacon Hill.

Still, Patrick has remained upbeat, dismissing chatter about his lame duck status and vowing to push ahead with what he said is the unfinished business of his administration.

“We have a legislative agenda that we’ve been developing,” Patrick told reporters recently. “We’ll be presenting that package, as they say, in the fullness of time.”

Patrick is coming off a year of political highs and lows. He reveled in two proxy victories with the re-election of political ally and friend President Barack Obama and the success of Democrat Elizabeth Warren, who ousted incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.

Those victories, however, were tempered with a gradual ticking up of the state’s unemployment rate and sluggish state revenues.

Also adding to Patrick’s woes were allegations that a chemist at a former state public health department lab manipulated drug tests that threatened to unravel thousands of criminal cases. A deadly nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to a Massachusetts pharmacy also called into question the state health department’s oversight of compounding pharmacies.

Patrick will get a chance to reboot his administration when he outlines many of his priorities for the new legislative session in his annual state of the state address scheduled for mid-January.

Patrick has already telegraphed some of his goals. They include plans to overhaul the way the state pays for its transportation system and tougher gun control measures in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut that left 20 children and 6 school staff members dead.

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