Photo of Deval Patrick

Patrick Campaign Press Release - Deval Patrick Unveils Opportunity Agenda

January 16, 2020

Plan Aims to Create an Economy that Has Space for Everyone, Everywhere

BOSTON, MA - Former Governor Deval Patrick today announced his Opportunity Agenda to create a more inclusive economy. The second of a four-part policy agenda, the plan proposes reforms that would build an economy that grows out to the middle and the marginalized, not just up to the well-connected. The agenda includes proposals on education reform, investments in the innovation economy, infrastructure spending, and other reforms to promote American prosperity.

"I was able to live my American Dream because I was able to grab hold of rare, but significant opportunities that presented themselves. These opportunities have become fewer and far between in an economy that requires many people to hold two or three jobs just to keep their lights on." Governor Patrick said. "I'm running for president to renew the American Dream make sure that everyone, everywhere has access to it."

The agenda outlines how a Patrick Administration would work to give Americans ready access to first-rate education, free from pre-K to community college or the first two years of a 4-year college. In addition, the agenda includes long-overdue investments in infrastructure. The Patrick Administration will calculate and disclose how many jobs were created through construction, how a region's pollution and carbon footprint was affected, and objective cost-benefit and return-on-investment metrics so that it invests in the most deserving projects, not in the best-connect communities.

The Opportunity Agenda

Opportunity is central to the American Dream. To assure a future where all Americans — without regard to race, ethnicity, gender identity or orientation, or where they choose to live — can build a secure and prosperous future, we need an economy that grows out to the middle and the marginalized, not just up to the well connected.

My detailed plan for expanding economic opportunity for every American everywhere stands on three pillars: education, innovation, and infrastructure.

Education. In an increasingly knowledge-based global economy, I believe Americans everywhere should have ready access to first-rate education — from pre-K through college, and beyond through life-long workforce development and retraining. In short, Americans should have the chance to prepare themselves fully for citizenship, for work and for life.

Innovation. I believe America can and should cultivate the innovative industries that generate high margins and high wages, such as precision manufacturing, urban and regenerative agriculture, life sciences, gaming, cyber security, media, transportation, financial services and health care. My administration will also promote entrepreneurialism in local communities beyond the capital centers of the East and West Coasts through access to capital, and business incubation and mentorship. And we will incentivize employee ownership and profit sharing, and impact investing, so citizens have real opportunities to build wealth and business takes a stakeholder approach to long-term value, accounting for its impact on workers, the community and the environment as well as owners.

Moving to a carbon-free future also presents enormous opportunities for us to lead research, development, and commercialization of alternative energy, energy efficiency and energy storage — and we will address these opportunities at length in my forthcoming proposal to address the climate emergency.

Infrastructure. We will rebuild and modernize America's infrastructure — the investments we make through our government to help people help themselves. This includes our physical infrastructure: roads, rails, bridges, universal broadband, affordable and workforce housing, the electric grid, drinking water systems, airports, ports and railroad stations, and more sustainable public buildings. But it also includes our social infrastructure: the social services, worker protections, and anti-poverty programs that enable Americans to take risks and prosper. This is the unglamorous work of government but it creates good jobs in the short-run and the necessary platform for private investment and personal ambition in the future.

The proposals in this Opportunity Agenda are wide-ranging but ultimately target the same thing: ensuring that future generations of Americans have the opportunity to imagine a future of their own making and then a fair chance to reach for that future. For me, this is the essence of the American Dream.

  • Universal, Affordable, Lifelong Education
  • An Innovation Economy for Everyone, Everywhere
  • Investing in Social and Physical Infrastructure

Universal, Affordable, Lifelong Education

Americans everywhere should have ready access to first-rate education — free from pre-K to community college or the first two years of a 4-year college; free or reduced thereafter, depending on a person's participation in national service; and affordable and accessible through life-long workforce development and retraining. In a knowledge-based economy, such as the world's is becoming, education is the single best investment we can make in our own collective future.

As President, my administration will make those investments. It starts with universal pre-kindergarten and extends to supporting all K-12 teachers, and the public schools in which they teach. We will work with states and cities to dramatically expand federal support for public schools, and pair that investment with new tools — like longer school days, smaller class sizes, after-school enrichment programs, or more social services in the schools themselves — to make sure every child has the opportunity to thrive, and to close persistent opportunity gaps. The goal is to have excellent schools with excellent teachers within reach of every child, everywhere.

Public colleges and universities should be publicly funded to ensure that they are free or at least affordable to attend. For those overburdened by student debt already, we will at a minimum refinance their debt retroactively to low or zero interest rates, crediting excess interest paid against outstanding principal. We will eliminate remaining debt, if any, by returning the federal estate tax to prior levels of 55 percent. And any student who gives a year or more of national military or civilian service — a paid program we have proposed as part of the Democracy Agenda — would earn as many years of free tuition and fees at a public college or university. Our mission is to enable Americans currently overburdened with student debt to have a fresh start, and to assure that students entering higher education have a high-quality, affordable public alternative to build their future.

Results: Support for Public Schools
Despite governing through the Great Recession, Governor Patrick made unprecedented investments in Massachusetts public education. Public schools were funded at record levels every year he was in office.

By the end of his administration, Governor Patrick increased state funding for public schools by over $1 billion annually, a 34% increase from the beginning of the Patrick Administration. Massachusetts students repaid that investment by ranking ranked first in student achievement in the United States and near the top of global rankings.

During Governor Patrick's tenure, four-year high school graduation rates increased by 7% overall and 16% for low-income students.

Governor Patrick was named "America's Greatest Education Governor" by the National Education Association in 2014.

In 2015, then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised Governor Patrick's education leadership in an op-ed, calling Governor Patrick an "education governor."

Universal Pre-Kindergarten

Early childhood, pre-kindergarten education should be within reach of any family. There is widespread consensus that early childhood education leads to significantly better learning and life outcomes. To make this goal a reality, the Patrick Administration will prioritize:

Expanding Access to Early Education. The Patrick Administration will work with states, cities and rural communities to support best practices and the most effective models to provide early learning opportunities for infants and toddlers. Federal investments will be based on research and data demonstrating superior outcomes.

Expanding Early Education Services. On top of access, our administration will promote efforts to expand the kinds of services available to parents and young learners at pre-schools. Paired with our proposals for early childcare, we will transform preschools into sites where parents can access a full range of social services, and serve as engines of mobility.

Training and Parity for Early Educators. Pre-kindergarten programs must be more than just a safe place for a young child to go during the day. Rather, it is essential that pre-kindergarten programs propel student learning and life success. In order to achieve this, we must acknowledge early educators as the professional educators that they are.

  • Under my administration, we will focus federal investment in early education on those programs that offer increased training and support for early educators. We will support programs that provide increased compensation, benefits and training — including pay parity with similarly credentialed public school teachers. And we will also expand investment in early educator scholarship and loan forgiveness programs (perhaps through our national Service initiatives) to facilitate the recruitment and retention of more high-quality trained educators.

Early Education Infrastructure. Many communities currently lack the facilities necessary to make universal pre-kindergarten a reality. We will make federal funding available to facilitate new construction and retrofitting of existing schools to meet the increased demand for seats and the unique needs of our youngest learners.

Support Public Teachers and Schools

  • Having a well-prepared and committed teacher in front of a classroom can transform the life of a young child, and retrace the arc of that young person's entire life. We must treat public school teachers as the professionals they are, supporting those in service and attracting and retaining talent for the future. Under my administration, we will increase the support the federal government provides public school teachers and the schools in which they teach in at least the following ways:
  • Direct Federal Funding to Increase Teacher Pay. As President, I will support a multi-fold increase in Title I funds, the primary federal resources available to schools that serve the highest percentage of low-income students. We will direct local school districts to use these additional funds to increase teacher pay in the neediest schools to close the teacher pay gap and help attract talented educators to schools serving low-income students.
  • Invest in Evidence-Based Programs to Train and Retain Teachers. We will create a new federal fund to support evidence-based programs that support teacher training, increase retention, and ensure that the diversity and cultural sensitivity of our teacher workforce matches the diversity of our country and our students. My Department of Education will work with states to identify and fund programs that improve teacher training, create mentorship programs for new teachers, expand leadership and career advancement opportunities for teachers, increase teacher pay, incentivize teachers to take and stay in hard-to-fill positions, and provide other needed classroom supports.
  • Incentivize Innovation within Education. No individual or group of individuals has a monopoly on good ideas. Our plan will incentivize states and local school districts to come up with creative solutions to support the specific needs of teachers in their area. We will create a competitive grant program that pushes states to adopt policies that support the teaching profession. States will then be awarded federal grants to support these initiatives. This approach will allow individual states to craft unique and creative solutions to meet the demands of their schools.
  • We will encourage states to reduce the over-reliance on high-stakes quantitative testing, to avoid the perverse outcomes associated with "teaching to the test," in favor of more comprehensive assessment tools to evaluate student progress.
  • Support the Rights of Teachers to Collectively Bargain. In recent years, we have seen the positive impact of teachers working together to advocate for increased pay and increased support for the students they teach. The Patrick Administration will affirm and secure the rights of teachers across this country to join a union and collectively bargain for salary, benefits and improved the working conditions in our public schools.

Close the Opportunity Gaps

Results: Closing Opportunity Gaps
Closing opportunity gaps between poor students, students with special needs or English language learners and their peers was a top priority for Governor Patrick while in office.

Governor Patrick signed the Achievement Gap Act, a groundbreaking education reform bill to transform public schools in Massachusetts and provide educators and districts with new tools and supports to target the opportunity gap and lift up all students.

Thanks to these efforts, the gap in four-year graduation rates between white and black students closed by nearly a third from 2006 to 2015. Other gaps were similarly reduced.

Growing up in Chicago, the schools that my family and I attended had significantly fewer resources than those just a few neighborhoods away. A combination of new investments, targeted incentives, and structural changes will give states and communities the tools they need to make sure every child has the opportunity to thrive. To make sure that a child's neighborhood does not determine the quality of education they receive, my administration will:

Expand Federal Support. Across our diverse country, there are many instances of local communities successfully adopting different resources and tools in order to support the needs of their students and begin to close the opportunity gap.

  • In Massachusetts, I signed legislation that created the state's first-ever innovation schools, in-district schools provided with additional autonomy and flexibility in how students are educated together with additional resources and related accountability.
  • Through a multi-fold increase in Title I funds, I will work with states and cities to pair new investment with the adoption of innovation schools and other similar successful models that provide schools the additional tools they need to close opportunity gaps. Under our plan, schools will be able to use the additional autonomy and funding to invest in longer school days, smaller class sizes, after-school programs, and school-based social services for students and their families.

Incentivize New Frameworks for Local Support. All states rely, in some part, on local property tax revenue to fund public education. Property taxes can be a stable source of funding, less vulnerable to economic disruption than other sources of revenue. However, reliance on this source of revenue benefits school districts with higher property values and is limited where homeowners may have valuable property but no or limited income. Our administration will incentivize local school districts and states to explore other more sustainable and progressive ways to support public education equitably across communities.

Invest in School Infrastructure. Today, the internet is a basic requirement for students to gain access to digital content and tools that will prepare them for success in the 21st century. Under-resourced school districts, particularly in rural communities, struggle to provide internet access to their students. In the past, the federal government has specifically allocated a segment of the broadband spectrum for educational use, creating a potential resource for school districts looking to provide internet access for their students. Recently, the Trump Administration ended this allocation and opened up these broadband licenses for commercial use. Our plan will reallocate a portion of the broadband spectrum for educational purposes and work with rural communities to mobilize this resource. Additionally, our plan will include new investments for schools to build the infrastructure necessary to support new technology and digital resources.

End the School to Prison Pipeline. We must interrupt the pipeline leading students from schools to incarceration. I will task the Education Department with leading efforts to end zero-tolerance discipline policies in public schools. We will work with states to limit the role of police in school discipline, and reduce the reliance on invasive surveillance systems in schools except where necessary for student security.

Prepare Every American for the Knowledge Economy. Our country has always been fueled by the ability of ordinary Americans to innovate and adapt to meet the world's challenges. We must ensure that our students have the skills they need to thrive in an economy that is increasingly driven by technology. In order to achieve this goal, my administration will:

  • Engage Students in STEAM, Foreign Language, and Soft Skills. Throughout this country, there are innovative programs that offer hands-on, experiential learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math ("STEAM"), foreign language, and soft skills. These programs foster creativity and collaboration, as well as building the skills our children will need to meet tomorrow's challenges. Our administration will fund and support school curriculum and after-school programs that actively engage our students in STEAM, foreign language, and soft skills.
  • Promote Middle Skills. Middle Skills jobs are those that require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year college degree. About half of the jobs in the United States fall in this category and there is growing demand for such skills in a rapidly changing economy. The building trades, health and home care, biotech, advanced manufacturing, and clean tech are examples of fast growing industries experiencing significant skills gaps today. As President, I will direct the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Commerce to create a taskforce to promote and support the targeted middle skills education and training programs needed to meet the demands of a rapidly changing economy. Community colleges should be enlisted as home base for much of such education.

Affordable, Meaningful Higher Education

Higher education costs too much to serve as the runway to opportunity that we need it to be. A Patrick Administration would set the country on a path to achieving affordable, debt-free post-secondary education for every American who wishes to pursue it. The solution involves putting the "public" back into higher education, by supporting and strengthening public institutions of higher learning, and putting pressure on the private market to start pushing tuition and costs down.

Making College Affordable. In a Patrick Administration, our priority will be to ensure that every student who wants to attend college is able to do so and graduate from a public college or university without burdensome debt. To achieve this goal, our plan reduces tuition costs, rewards those who have given a year or more of national or military service, and increases aid for low-income students.

  • The Department of Education will partner with states to make all community colleges tuition free.
  • Under our plan, the federal government will offer states matching funds for the majority of the average cost per student of enrollment at a community college. In exchange for the federal funds, states will cover the remaining per student costs, so that students can enroll in these schools, tuition free.
  • Any student who gives a year or more of national military or civilian service — a paid program we have proposed as part of the Democracy Agenda — would be given as many years of free tuition and fees at a public college or university through a direct federal grant.

Relief for Existing Student Borrowers. We must address the crisis of student debt. For too many young Americans, student debt has become a barrier to financial stability. There are some important steps we can take today to alleviate the pain on current borrowers.

  • For students overburdened by student debt today, we should at a minimum refinance their debt to eliminate or substantially reduce the interest. Our plan would allow borrowers to refinance retroactively and credit excess interest paid against the principal balance. For many students, this will effectively eliminate their existing debt.
  • The federal government should also provide immediate relief to students who were taken advantage of by predatory, for-profit institutions, as well as students who have committed to public service. We will prioritize a comprehensive review of federal loan forgiveness programs to ensure that graduates receive clear and accurate information about eligibility and payback terms.
  • Going forward, through new legislation and regulation, we will require radically simplified student loan products, and, going forward, require loan services to provide students with up-front transparency and regular, flat payments.

Endow HBCUs. America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other minority serving institutions (MSIs) have served as an important gateway to opportunity and prosperity for people of color for generations. They are engines of opportunity. HBCUs have awarded nearly a quarter of all bachelor's degrees awarded to black students in STEM since 2000.

  • Because public HBCUs are more dependent on public funding than non-HBCUs and private HBCUs are more tuition dependent than their non-HBCU counter parts, the increased costs of higher-education and cuts in public funding have led to significant financial challenges at many of these institutions.
  • In order to ensure these institutions have the financial resources they need to educate generations to come, the Patrick Administration will support a federal program, in addition to current federal and state expenditures, to seed the endowments of these institutions. This program will help secure long-term financial stability for these critical institutions.

Lifelong Training, Learning, and Enrichment

Working with states, local communities, community colleges, and the private sector, our administration will develop apprenticeship and lifelong skills programs to open up new career paths and skills for working adults that are flexible, portable and stackable. The old model of going to school when you're young to learn a single set of skills you can use throughout your career has been gone for decades, but our education and workforce development system has failed to keep pace with the rapidly changing economy. We will target the chronically underemployed, just as we offer programming for those transitioning careers and those just starting out.

We will dramatically overhaul existing worker training programs to:

Support Experimentation, Testing and Accountability in Training. We need to better understand what works and what no longer does in workforce training and development, and target the strongest, most scalable programs with more resources.

  • Community Colleges. Our community colleges remain underutilized in many places as sites for expanding opportunity and mobility. My administration will put them at the center of workforce training and development, partnering with local employers, unions, trade groups, and other stakeholders so that there is a direct connection between the skills taught in the classroom and the skills demanded in the local marketplace.
  • Dramatically Increase Competitive Workforce Training Grants. No single training model will work for every worker in every industry. We will create new incentives to experiment with new workforce training models including private training and work-study programs at a local scale. Set up processes to rigorously evaluate what works for specific industries and types of workers, given local conditions. As different models prove successful, roll them out first to similar communities in other states and, if applicable, nationwide.
  • Align Transitional Support. The federal government currently operates a patchwork of programs that varies based on how or why a worker is unemployed or transitioning to a new industry, like the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program and others. We should make all transition programs available to all workers, whether they are forced to change industries because of trade, automation, or otherwise. Our economy is dynamic and constantly shifting — we need workforce programs that are just as flexible.

Standardize Credentials. My administration will lead the effort to make certificate programs and online skills training standardized, stackable, and portable, so students have confidence in the quality and relevance of the training they're undertaking. We will work closer with educators, employers, unions, and trade groups to identify the appropriate credentials and allow students to transition between flexible learning environments while earning credits recognized both by industry and schools.

Expand Apprenticeship Opportunities. We will increase federal support for apprenticeship programs, through which workers are able to earn pay while building market-ready skills and making progress towards a degree, certification, or the equivalent. We should ensure that apprenticeship programs in high-demand industries are within reach of all Americans, while fostering sectoral and multi-firm programs like the Industrial Manufacturing Technician program, which receives funding from the Department of Labor. Many of these sectoral programs allow small businesses to take part as well.

Develop New Career Pathway Incentives. My administration will support pilots in career pathway incentives for employers and workers who achieve milestones and advance on a career ladder in high-need industries, such as healthcare, education, and clean tech. This can include both temporary federal wage support for workers who are forced to transition into a new industry late in their career or refundable tax credits to help workers who take on additional training and certifications. For example, an entry-level medical assistant could be eligible for cash bonuses from the government for advancing to becoming a clinical care technician to registered nurse in markets of high-need.

Support Students and Workers During Training. Many students and workers receiving new training — especially mid-career, part-time, and adult learners — struggle to complete their programs, even when the program is well-designed and well-suited to their career ambitions. We should provide the wraparound services required to improve retention and the advising and placement support required to improve the impact of the program.

  • We will expand partnerships with nonprofits working to prepare young people for their first career, and older American transitioning into new careers. For many learners, having access to childcare or affordable transportation, or having the ability to work while enrolled or take time-off without penalty, can be the difference dropping out and completing the program. In all of our workforce training programs, we should include a greater say for workers themselves, so that they have more control over what training they receive and the way it is delivered.

An Innovation Economy for Everyone, Everywhere

America innovates. We solve big problems. That's our historical strength and it remains our competitive edge in the world. We should dominate the global innovation economy — both to expand the economy in a sustainable direction, and to help answer some of our most pressing social and environmental challenges.

But the opportunity that's come from our innovation economy in recent years has not been evenly distributed across our country, and too many communities are being left behind.

This is why the foundation of my Opportunity Agenda is ensuring that the benefits of economic growth spread to everyone everywhere. We must replace the uneven growth of the last decades with a coordinated plan that reaches every single part of the country. We all have a stake in each others' dreams. Talent, ambition, and drive exist across all Americans, but the way we have grown our economy does not reflect that, instead rewarding only those lucky enough to be born in certain places or already working in certain industries. Under my administration, we will shift our time, attention, and investment back to the people and places that have been unfairly left behind for too long, so that they too can claim their stake in the American Dream.

This means making capital available, not just loans, outside the concentrations of capital on the East and West Coasts, along with mentorship and coaching, so that entrepreneurs start their businesses and small businesses can grow. It means completely reimagining the federal government's approach to supporting economic growth in different communities, unleashing the untapped potential of our inner cities, and investing in new strategies for rural communities.

Results: Jobs and Innovation
By Governor Patrick helped revive an economy battered by recession, turning it into a global innovation powerhouse.

In 2006, when Governor Patrick was first elected, Massachusetts ranked 47th in the nation in job creation. When Governor Patrick left office, employment in Massachusetts was at a 25-year high, with over 173,000 new jobs.

Massachusetts' recovery from the recession beat national averages for GDP growth, job growth, and personal income growth.

Governor Patrick enacted the highest statewide minimum wage in the country, raising it by over 37%.

Governor Patrick oversaw significant investments to promote advanced manufacturing in Massachusetts. When Governor Patrick left office, advanced manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts were growing 50% faster than in other states.

Governor Patrick's Life Sciences Initiative invested over $1 billion in 10 years to make Massachusetts a global leader in the Biotechnology and Life Sciences Sectors. The Massachusetts life sciences sector now employs over 74,000 workers.

The priorities below outline a growth strategy that reaches everyone, everywhere — not just in major cities on the coasts, and not just for folks with advanced degrees.

Americans should be empowered, not limited, by their geography. My administration will partner with entrepreneurs, small businesses, and community leaders to provide capital and mentoring to talented Americans in communities everywhere, and view all economic policymaking through the lens of regional equity. The goal is to promote thriving communities and vibrant places, to get more opportunities to create jobs and wealth in the hands of more communities across the nation.

To deliver on that, our administration will:

Invest in the Future of Our Economy. Innovation is our competitive edge in the world. Through investments and public-private partnerships, we must cultivate industries like clean tech, precision and advanced manufacturing, robotics, gaming, cybersecurity, transportation, green construction and biotech, urban agriculture, and regenerative and organic farming, biofuels, and soil carbon sequestration. These are just a few of the economic revolutions underway and within our grasp. America should dominate the innovation economy. Not only does it play to our historical strengths, but it can also help answer some of our most pressing social and environmental challenges.

  • Nationwide, World-Class Worker Training Programs. It's not enough to invest in the industries of the future if our workers and communities who need them most are not able to benefit. I would pair these investments directly to our life-long training, learning, and enrichment programs so that all Americans who want to join in the future growth of our economy can do so.

Support Local Entrepreneurs. Our administration will support entrepreneurs in local communities to create more jobs and wealth. During my time as Governor we launched a public/private partnership called MassChallenge to match talent that already existed with private capital seeking to support that talent. The program blended private and public money to attract innovation and talent to Massachusetts to participate in a competitive accelerator program, matching ambitious entrepreneurs with local resources and mentoring talent.

  • We will scale up the model we established in Massachusetts and replicate it in communities across the country, partnering with local business, nonprofits, and universities to get capital in the hands of talented entrepreneurs, and to pair funding with deep mentoring from experienced local professionals.
  • At the same time, we will ramp efforts to support women entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of color, and entrepreneurs in particularly underserved areas so that assistance in concentrated on those small businesses where it will make the biggest difference.

Support Small, Growing, Independent Businesses. Small, local businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and they are the key to igniting growth in communities that have been left behind — especially historically underserved communities of color.

  • We will re-commit the federal government to celebrating and supporting small businesses through a revitalized Small Business Administration (SBA), led by an administrator who has started a successful business in an American community. We will grant the SBA new flexibility and new tools to make targeted grants — including start-up capital — in underserved communities and work with local partners on micro-funding smaller local projects.

Access to Capital and Technical Expertise. Improve small businesses' access to investment capital by expanding the Small Business Investment Company, streamlining lending regulations for community banks, and providing new incentives for large banks to lend to small businesses. Though manufacturing states like Ohio and Indiana make up 33% of U.S. employment, they only receive 20% of national R&D investments and 6% of venture capital dollars. We must increase businesses' access to the capital and technical expertise they require to grow.

  • Build on management and technical assistance training programs and entrepreneurial development programs like Small Business Development Centers and Women's Business Centers to provide the full suite of resources entrepreneurs require to grow their businesses.
  • Assess the critical gaps in debt and equity financing that entrepreneurs and small businesses face and work across federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofits, and the private sector to ensure that business funding is spread across the country.

Equitable Business Development Programs. We will update and expand the guidelines defining a Disadvantaged Business enterprise (DBE) to expand the pool of minority-owned small business eligible to compete for federal contracts. We will also take steps to direct federal pension funds in more minority-owned business.

  • Across the federal government, we have many programs — some old, some new — meant to help distressed neighborhoods, like the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the Hardest Hit Fund, the Community Development Block Grants, the New Markets Tax Credit, and the State Small Business Credit Initiative. We will undertake a government-wide assessment of the web of the programs that currently touch distressed neighborhoods and work to expand working programs, sunset unsuccessful programs, and fill the gaps between programs that leave many communities without the funds they need to develop.

Partner with Rural Communities. Rural communities are critical to sustaining our country, and a vital source of dynamism for our economy. We need to ensure that our rural communities are set up for a sustainable future — both for the next generation of rural citizens and a sustainable environment for all.

  • Invest in Rural Communities. We will ramp up programs providing low-interest micro-loans to support small-scale agriculture, working with states to support local and regional markets for food and other agricultural products. Our administration will support efforts to cultivate markets and jobs in climate resiliency, advanced manufacturing, conservation, and biomass energy production.
  • Sustainable Agriculture. Invest in financial support for farmers today and research that helps improve efficiencies and maximize farmer earnings. Focus on improving the environmental impact of our agriculture by reducing carbon emissions, maintaining animal and plant health, and expanding soil and food research.
  • Broadband Access and Rural Infrastructure. As of 2019, over 20 million Americans lacked access to high speed broadband service. Incentivize new broadband internet construction and provide states and communities the tools to leapfrog private construction, including public options if the private sector proves unwilling or unable to provide it. Beyond broadband, we must make the infrastructure investments that these communities need to compete in a global economy.
  • Education and Talent. Implement initiatives to expand college education in rural communities. Reduce the effect of the "talent drain" in which educated individuals leave for their education and never return to work in their home communities.

Coordinate Policy to Empower the Underserved. We will coordinate and simplify the proliferation of disconnected federal programs overseeing economic development initiatives. Our administration will break those barriers down and streamline federal programs focused on expanding opportunities to all regions of the country.

Within the White House, I will appoint a policy leader to oversee this coordination across departments, and make certain that all our policies work together to serve the underserved, not the well-connected. This official will ensure that:

  • Infrastructure spending prioritizes communities that have been historically overlooked;
  • Our education reform initiatives are preparing all Americans to succeed in a knowledge-based economy, right from universal pre-K through higher education and lifetime upskilling and retraining;
  • New, ambitious investments in universal, high quality health care and affordable housing and childcare so that all Americans, regardless of background or zip code, have the opportunity to build the lives they want to lead.

Renew American Physical Infrastructure

Our country's physical infrastructure is the platform that enables all other growth. But for decades, we have failed to make the investments in things that allow our communities to flourish — like our roads, railway, and drinking water systems — and allowed some of our proudest achievements to crumble.

That changes with my Presidency. My administration will work with Congress, state and local governments, and the private sector to finally deliver on long-overdue investments in our physical infrastructure. We will pursue a comprehensive, national plan to govern new infrastructure spending — one that ensures federal resources and expertise is getting to the right places, on time and at scale.

And we'll hold ourselves accountable — we'll measure the success of each project by calculating and disclosing: by how many jobs were created through construction, how a region's pollution and carbon footprint was affected, and by focused, objective cost-benefit and return-on-investment metrics so that we invest our common funds in the most deserving projects, not the best-connected communities.

Infrastructure — Principles

Decisions on where, how, and when to spend on new infrastructure will be driven by the following principles:

Climate. We will not invest a federal single dollar in a project without a rigorous assessment of that project’s climate impact. We won’t invest in projects that support legacy fossil fuel transportation and power generation — like roads, bridges, and the electric gird — without first requiring a carbon mitigation and re-orientation plan. So, for example, highway projects must be paired with investments to support electric vehicles, or smart tolling programs to limit emissions. And upgrades to our electric grid must be paired with investments in renewable energy generation and increased energy efficiency.

  • For any infrastructure project sponsored by federal dollars, we will achieve carbon neutral construction, through a combination of mandatory environmental standards, efficiency incentives, and, as a fallback, carbon offsetting schemes. We will use government contracts and investment as a way to incentivize and spur innovation in environmentally-friendly construction practices.

Labor. Consistent with relevant law, we will work hand-in-hand with organized labor at every stage to ensure that the jobs generated through infrastructure investments pay well, and lead to higher skill, long-term, permanent employment opportunities.

Equity. As we did in Massachusetts, we will make sure that no region is left behind. Our comprehensive plan will focus on projects in every region and state that are tailored to their greatest needs.

  • We will tailor our strategy to invest in areas that have been traditionally overlooked by the federal government, whether they are urban or rural, communities of color, communities of high poverty, or otherwise.

Community Involvement. Infrastructure is an investment we make in ourselves — in our own communities and our own economy. Under my infrastructure program, we would involve local public, nonprofit, and business leaders throughout the process to make sure that the projects we invest in are projects that local communities actually demand.

Infrastructure — Priorities

In line with our commitment to addressing climate change, investing in education, healthcare, and economic opportunity, and supporting veterans and communities that have been overlooked by investment in the past, our administration will prioritize federal support for projects that improve:

  • Carbon Reduction and Climate Resilience. We will invest in climate-change resilient infrastructure and projects that will help us reverse the course of climate change, like soil sequestration.
  • Public Schools. We will direct new funding to support the nation’s public schools, working with states to improve physical capacity across the country.
  • Disaster Recovery. We must strengthen our critical infrastructure like chemical facilities, the electrical grid, and storm-water management systems so that we can withstand and quickly recover from disasters.
  • Roads and Bridges. We need to invest in more efficient transit and more reliable shipping, bringing about an end to congestion and delays.
  • Ports, Train Stations, and Aviation. We need modern and efficient sea ports, train stations, and airline terminals across the country.
  • High-speed Rail. We need to upgrade and expand our rail system, finally delivering on old promises to extend high-speed rail nationwide, and adding other regional low-carbon mass transit projects.
  • Military Bases. Our military bases — especially housing options on those bases — are in urgent need of significant capital spending and attention.
  • Rural Hospitals and Community Health Centers. We need quality hospitals within reach of all Americans, and we need our Veterans Administration hospitals to become the pride of our country’s healthcare system.
  • Broadband. We will finish the process of extending broadband internet to the entire country, with government laying the fiber and launching the wireless networks if the private sector won’t.
  • Electric Grid. As contemplated by our plan for climate action and a clean-energy economy, we need a modern electrical grid that is secure, resilient, and powered by clean energy.
  • Water. We need to guarantee safe drinking water for every American, while investing throughout the water infrastructure: dams, levees, sewers, and wastewater treatment facilities.

Infrastructure — Making it Happen

Strategy. We will stage our investments according to a multi-year, perhaps decade-long plan, paired with a responsible and deliberate funding strategy. Our administration will coordinate spending and planning to ensure federal support complements state, local and private funding.

Scale. We will spend what we need to in order to accomplish our ambitious goals. As a benchmark, we should be prepared to invest at least as much as the Trump Administration’s 2017 tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations cost the country. After spending on education, spending on infrastructure generates our highest collective return to society.

  • Working with Congress, we will fund these investments through a combination of (i) direct federal spending from a dedicated capital account, (ii) public-private partnerships, (iii) subsidized federal lending, and (iv) grants to states.
  • We will breathe new life into the kinds of bond programs that gave Americans the opportunity to contribute to and own a piece of large-scale national efforts like World War II. Bonding will offer the public a stake in local infrastructure and an opportunity to contribute to a national project.

Oversight. We will establish rigorous, independent, and centralized oversight of all infrastructure spending, to prevent fraud and impose accountability.

Invest in American Social Infrastructure

Empowering Workers

I was proud to stand beside organized labor for eight years as Governor of Massachusetts, fighting for the rights of workers and overseeing historic job growth in every region of the Commonwealth as we recovered from the Great Recession. Under my leadership, we enacted the highest state minimum wage in the nation, created tens of thousands of good union and middle-class jobs by investing in things like precision manufacturing, solar energy, and efficiency, and put state resources to work in new transportation and construction projects. We protected the rights of undocumented and vulnerable workers, and brought labor to the table for every significant reform we undertook.

I will bring that same commitment, and a dedication to improving the lives and livelihood of working people, to the Presidency. Of course, we need a living wage of at least $15 per hour and much greater penetration of collective bargaining schemes in private and public employers — and many more worker protections besides that.

But we also need to think creatively about how to put workers closer to the center of decision-making and ownership in our economy. We need fresh approaches to questions of worker governance and equity, and a new focus on how to support workers in the “gig” economy. Our proposals build on the results we achieved in the State House, and on my career in the private sector as an investor focused on delivering social impact to deliver better rules, wages, and status for American workers everywhere.

$15 Minimum Wage. We will work with Congress to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour and end the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and those with disabilities. Once it’s reset, it should be indexed to trends in the broader economy like median wage growth so that it is not eroded overtime as it has been. Until Congress acts, my administration will require that all federal contractors offer workers at least $15 an hour, as well as fair benefits and the right to unionize.

Empower Workers and Unions. Unions have long been a driving force in raising wages and securing benefits for working Americans. But over the last several decades, the power of unions has been systematically undermined, with the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision being only the most recent example. My administration will support unions, collective bargaining agreements, and workers’ right to organize by:

  • Expanding and defending federal laws that support workers’ right to collectively organize;
  • Increasing penalties on companies that interfere with union elections, and making companies’ record on labor violations a key consideration when awarding government contracts;
  • Prohibiting overly-restrictive non-competes, anti-poaching agreements, and licensing requirements that benefit incumbent corporations to the detriment of workers;
  • Combating so-called “right-to-work laws” that undermine employees’ ability to unionize; and
  • Securing the rights of workers in the “gig” economy by supporting new rules like the “ABC test” to assure that workers receive fair wages and benefits. The Patrick Administration will ramp up enforcement to prevent worker misclassification and will push for a broad “joint employer” standard to make it easier for workers in the gig economy to identify an employer with whom they can bargain.

Transition Assistance. In line with our education proposals, we will expand and fully fund the current program for helping workers who have been unfairly impacted by global trade, and improve it by linking it up with training and mentoring services. Our administration will also extend assistance to support individuals who have lost their job because of new technologies.

Close the Pay Gap and Ensure Equal Pay for Equal Work. Men and women doing the same work should be paid the same. We will crack down on employers who discriminate based on gender and push for new rules and laws requiring employers to disclose gender discrepancies in pay. Our administration will also support rules that prohibit employers from asking about pay history, which often locks women or other identity groups into a lifetime of lower pay.

A More Inclusive Workforce. Countless studies show a more diverse workforce creates more value in the market, and offers more people an opportunity to succeed.

  • A Patrick Administration will increase penalties and enforcement for firms that violate fair employment and civil rights laws, all of which will be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender expression.
  • We will reform all necessary rules to make sure that an arrest or conviction does not prevent anyone from earning a job and contributing to society.
  • We will establish federal guidelines to help employers adopt best practices to increase awareness of implicit bias and other factors, which can make it harder to hire qualified diversity candidates. Our administration will also institute a national reporting requirement on demographics of employees hired and pay to help track success in this area.

Supporting Families

Paid Family and Medical Leave. The United States lags behind much of the world in providing mandatory family and medical leave. This has to change.

  • Working with Congress, we will create a federal mandatory paid family and medical leave program modeled on those already in place or being rolled out in states like New York and Massachusetts. Paid leave should include parental leave for birth or adoption as well as leave for illness or caring for a family member.
  • The program will be universal and gender-neutral, providing up to twelve weeks of leave, in addition to the paid sick leave or vacation leave that all employers should also offer.
  • It’s not enough to change our laws, however, if we do not change our culture as well. In a country where childcare still falls predominantly on women, we must make it the norm for both mothers and fathers to take time off so that women are not penalized in their careers for taking time off to have children.

Subsidized Childcare. Provide working families with support for affordable childcare in the form of a tax credit or direct contribution, so that they are no longer faced with the choice between caring for their children or providing for their families and contributing to our economy.

Expand Family Tax Credits. As part of my Reform Agenda to create a system of simple, fair, adequate taxes, I will push to double the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit to offer direct assistance to low and middle-income families. These programs put cash into the pockets of the working families.

Retirement Security. Our administration will protect dignity and security in retirement for workers by protecting Social Security and ensuring all workers get the pensions they’ve been promised. We will explore and invest in new programs that provide retirees with critical support services and long-term care as they age, and take steps to ensure that long-term solvency of Social Security.

Promoting and Creating Affordable Housing

In many communities, housing is out of reach for too many. It’s not just in our booming cities — families across the country are struggling to find affordable housing, much less aspire to owning their own homes. And homelessness — unacceptable in the world’s richest nation — continues to afflict too many Americans, many of them also struggling with addiction or mental health disorders.

Build More Workforce Affordable Housing Everywhere. The first step to making housing more affordable is to dramatically increase our housing stock. Over the last decade, our country’s stock of low-cost rentals has shrunk by 4 million units. Meanwhile, fewer than one in ten new rental homes built at the beginning of last year were rented for less than $1,050. America urgently needs millions more affordable housing units. I will work to allocate the billions of dollars needed to make that happen, using the entire force of the federal government to make sure that the stock of affordable housing in America can finally meet the demand.

  • We will offer federal grants for improvements to existing public and affordable housing, including by increasing funding for the National Housing Trust Fund, with emphasis on climate-friendly and energy-efficient projects.
  • My administration will funnel tax incentives, grant funding, and direct spending towards the low-income and working-class communities that are struggling most.
  • We will create new and innovative incentives that will push states and municipalities to end overly-restrictive zoning rules that are exacerbating the housing crisis. As cities and states across the country experiment with ways to create more affordable housing at the local level, we will expand successful programs and work to roll them out nationwide.

Immediate Relief and Protection for Renters. I will build on the housing voucher program and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) so that every person eligible for a housing voucher or existing tax credit will get one, and I will explore new tax credits and other forms of rent relief as necessary to ensure that every family in America can afford safe, comfortable housing near their place of work. Additionally, my administration will protect existing tenants with stronger enforcement of rules that prevent unfair eviction practices and housing discrimination.

Homeownership Justice. My administration will help put renters on a path towards owning their homes through programs like the renter tax credit and its associated special savings account.

  • We must also recognize that the Nation’s housing and land ownership policies have a long history of racism that must be addressed. We must correct the errors of history. My first step would be to resume implementation of the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which would have required that local governments take active steps to undo racial segregation.
  • My administration will explore new ways to help racial and ethnic minorities afford the down payments on their homes, especially those in communities systematically undermined by racial discrimination and redlining. Strategies to rectify the historical wrongs of redlining will address both historically targeted communities and the communities that now host the descendants of the victims of discrimination.

End Homelessness. All of our efforts to increase affordable housing will help end homelessness, but there are things we can do directly to help those that need it most. I will support innovative models to end the homelessness crisis in this country, focusing on increasing capacity at emergency shelters as well as improving access to mental health and counseling services. My administration will take steps to coordinate policy across health care, social services, housing, and beyond to create a comprehensive policy that takes people off the street and into homes and productive society once and for all.

Ending Poverty

Any program to end poverty must focus not just on how much Americans earn, but also what they are able to afford with those earnings. Across my Reform, Opportunity, and Democracy Agendas, we have the ambitious proposals to put high-quality education, housing, health care, and child care within reach for everyone everywhere. These are the very things that help people lift themselves and their families to a better life. Several targeted proposals that address the root causes of persistent poverty include:

  • Increase Incomes for Working Americans. We need a coordinated effort across the federal government to put more money into the pockets of the Americans who are struggling most. We will do this through a $15 per hour federal minimum wage and increased family tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. We will do this by reducing the other costs that Americans currently face — especially housing, health care, and childcare. And we will do this by shifting the benefits of economic growth back to the working people who deserve it — through stronger protections for labor, greater employee ownership, and a reinvention of our workforce training programs and infrastructure investments to reach the people who need it most.
  • Protecting and Improving the Safety Net. Successful programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have come under attack. We should expand programs that have been proven to help all Americans feed their families and survive through times of instability and crisis.
  • Decriminalize Poverty. In America, as Bryan Stevenson so beautifully puts it, “the opposite of poverty is not wealth: it’s justice.” We must break the false link between poverty and the unrelated concept of fault. This means going through our laws — especially our criminal justice system — and uprooting every case where poverty dictates justice. We will do exactly that through the criminal justice plank of our Reform Agenda — focusing on: reducing reliance on cash bail and fines, ending the school-to-prison pipeline, and ending mass incarceration driven by mandatory minimums.
  • Increase Political Representation for the Poor. Our government pays too much attention to the wealthy and well-connected and not nearly enough to the working poor and those struggling to get by. Through my Democracy Agenda, we will fight new voting restrictions, end felon disenfranchisement, fix the Voting Rights Act, end partisan gerrymandering, protect the Census, get dark money out of politics and make the other reforms necessary so that our government represents our people — all our people. Only then can reforms be done with the working poor and those living in poverty, rather than done to them.

Getting Workers a Stake in a Renewed, More Equitable Capitalism

Employees deserve more of a voice and a greater economic stake in private corporations. We need a capitalism where employees succeed no less than shareholders, where the profits of corporations do not come at the expense of society and the environment, and where all Americans share in the collective prosperity of our economy. Achieving this more inclusive version of capitalism requires that we finally give employees a real stake, with financial ownership in both the corporations at which we work and in the economy we collectively own. My policies, which are informed by my experiences in business, will do precisely that.

Support and Promote Employee-Owned Business.The federal government should create pathways to forming and expanding employee-owned enterprises that give employees both a job and a stake in their workplace. Our administration, through a combination of grants, equity investments, loans, and loan guarantees, alone or in partnership with state and local governments, nonprofits, and the private sector, can remove this barrier to launch the next generation of companies more inclusive and democratic than corporations today.

Guarantee Employee Buy-out Lending. The federal government should provide loan guarantees for employees who wish to buy-out their owners. These loan guarantees could be modeled after similar commercial guarantee programs like the Export-Import Bank. Guarantees could apply both to control and minority investments.

Achieve Significant Employee Ownership and Wealth Creation by 2050. The federal government can play a leading role in supporting new corporate forms and business models that are built around partial or full employee ownership through existing economic development agencies and new programs within those agencies created specifically to encourage employee-ownership.

  • I would immediately direct the Commerce and Treasury Departments to remove every barrier to employee ownership, and I would form a new head of employee ownership within my administration to oversee these efforts, including proposing and enacting the appropriate promotions, incentives, and changes required to make employee ownership as viable and attractive as possible.
  • Through these and other mechanisms, my administration would put our economy on-track to significant employee ownership by 2050, such that the prosperity of our corporations and our employees went hand-in-hand. I would target a significant portion of the equity-value of our corporations to be held by employees outside of the executive suite.

Ensure Ownership Comes with True Leadership, Governance, and Control. As employees gain a significant stake in our corporations, we will ensure that this financial stake comes along with the leadership, governance, and control of our corporations that it deserves. Employees will be able to vote for who represents them on their board of directors, on key shareholder proposals, and on the strategic direction of their companies. Through this transition, we will make sure that employees are equipped with the training, information, and processes they need to be prudent stewards of their corporations.

Transforming Businesses

Transform Corporations to Benefit All Stakeholders. For decades, our corporate sector has been blinded by its pursuit of short-term profits for shareholders over and above all other concerns. As a result, even as the stock market soars the workers, customers, consumers, and other stakeholders in our economy have suffered.

  • Benefit Corporations. We will encourage all companies to explicitly change their corporate charters to clarify their obligation to benefit all constituents, not just shareholders. The evidence is clear that when businesses commit to meeting socially responsible goals they can improve their financial returns to all stakeholders.
  • Rather than run for the sole benefit of shareholders, the companies that dominate our economy should be held responsible for the impact they have on all their stakeholders. The Benefit Corporation model, in which corporations recognize a broader set of legal obligations in their articles of incorporation to produce a public benefit, offers a radically different way to conceive of the corporation, while still staying true to how corporate law has been done in our country for hundreds of years.
  • My administration, in coordination across the Departments of Treasury and Commerce and the regulatory bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, will encourage the formation Benefit Corporations and conversion of traditionally formed companies into Benefit Corporations.
  • Over time, we will target a specific proportion of corporations to be registered as Benefit Corporations and make the legal and regulatory changes required to achieve these goals.

New and Improved Reporting and Disclosure Standards. Today, we have well intended but highly complex reporting and disclosure requirements limited to financial and operating requirements. My administration will simplify and streamline these reporting and disclosure standards, and expand them to address social and environmental impact. As a result, most social and environmental disclosures are self-reported, cherry-picked, and untrustworthy.

  • Under my administration, we will standardize the reporting and disclosure standards for metrics like worker well-being and carbon-emissions so that all stakeholders have an accurate view of the broader impacts corporations are having.

Combat Short-Termism in All Its Forms. Just as our politics has come to focus only on the next election cycle or the next news cycle, so too have our corporations come to focus just on the next set of quarterly earnings numbers. This can come from the way that corporations report or project profits on a quarterly basis, from how our financial intermediaries like mutual funds are judged and assessed, and on how executives are compensated. The result has been a system riddled with incentives to maximize short-term profits rather than the long-term prosperity of all a corporation’s stakeholders. Working with oversight agencies and the business community, we will examine the reasons why companies are so focused on short-term return over long-term value, and seek appropriate reforms to change that.

Deval Patrick, Patrick Campaign Press Release - Deval Patrick Unveils Opportunity Agenda Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives