Fall officially ends in a few days. The snow is piling up. The time has come to speak to you about my plans.
I have a great view of the Boston Common from my office. I can see kids skating on frog pond and commuters going to and from work. In warm months, I see parents and children enjoying a picnic on the lawn. Now, the lights of Christmas and the holidays are spread out before the entire city. In so many ways, this place reminds me of our founding as a "shining city on a hill." It teems with people of all kinds, free to pursue happiness of all kinds. For the past three years, it is service on behalf of these people that has given me purpose. Serving as Gov. is one of the greatest honors of my life.
A year from now, it will be time for me to pass that privilege to someone else. I will not be a candidate for re-election.
I have not come to this decision lightly. It comes after many conversations with Ann and with my family and friends. I will miss the enormous satisfaction that comes with making a difference in the lives of our fellow citizens. I will also miss working with my team. They are people of extraordinary talent and ability. They put aside their careers to serve you and our Commonwealth.
My decision comes down to this: In this four year term, we can accomplish what I set out to do. In fact, we've already accomplished a great deal.
When I ran for Gov., the state was in tough shape. Our finances were a mess, unemployment was high and we were losing jobs every month. In some ways, government was hobbled with politics and patronage. I said I'd do my best to clean up the mess.
Today the budget is balanced. Unemployment is down. Employers have added 35,000 jobs since the bottom of the recession. The legislature and my administration have cooperated to reform government and solve major issues. We've streamlined and consolidated government. We've rescued our school building program so that we can construct hundreds of new schools. We've instituted smart growth policies and environmental programs that will preserve what we love about living in New England. Tuition-free Adams scholarships are now granted to thousands of our kids, every year. Taxes have been lowered, most recently for our seniors, and benefits for veterans and National Guardsmen have been improved. Congratulations are due to our legislature and its leaders.
There is more to be done in the coming year. In healthcare, we are on the verge of something truly historic: insuring all our citizens. This is something Republicans and Democrats can agree on. Senate President Travaglini and Speaker DiMasi are good and decent men who are willing to put aside politics to fulfill the promise of a just and compassionate society. After more than two years of diligent work, we are close to getting the job done. I am confident we will.
There is other work also before the legislature that will be resolved, one way or the other, this coming year. I have proposed powerful incentives to add new jobs to our economy. I am fighting for fundamental reform for auto insurance. I want our welfare program to require work. And, like you, I want your income tax rate to decline to 5 percent.
And then, there's education. We've made big strides, defending MCAS and adding science as a graduation requirement, standing up for charter schools, implementing English immersion and adding merit scholarships.
Have you heard about our kids' results? Every year, 4th and 8th graders across America are tested in math and English. Our 4th graders scored 1st among all 50 states in English. They also scored 1st in math. And our 8th graders scored 1st in English. And they scored 1st in math. In all four categories, Massachusetts kids are the top in the nation.
But our nation is falling behind. Our children face global competition unlike anything we ever faced. They will need the best education we can give them. I will continue to fight for education reform, giving better teachers better pay, empowering principals, hiring more math and science teachers, and giving our kids laptop computers.
Let me conclude by saying this to the people of Massachusetts -- I want to thank you for giving me this job. I love it. In January of 2007, when I walk out my office for the last time, I am surely going to miss it. I have loved the whirlwind of accomplishment of the last three years and I will give my all to keep up the pace in my final year.