Patrick and Walsh Meet, Signal Support for Proposed Wage Increase

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick met privately and briefly with Boston Mayor-elect Marty Walsh at the governor’s office Monday.

The governor and mayor elect got off to a warm start. Patrick says he is looking forward to working with Marty Walsh to bring economic opportunities to the commonwealth.

“We’ve just had a great conversation,” Patrick says. “We’ve had a great friendship and a good partnership while he was here in the state house and we’re looking forward to continuing that in his new role as mayor.”

Walsh does not plan to give up his seat in the state house until the end of the year.

During their twenty-minute closed-door meeting, Walsh says he and the governor talked about their working class backgrounds.

“Thirty years ago, our families might not have thought we’d be sitting in the governor’s office as the governor and the mayor’s office as the mayor,” Walsh says. “I think that’s one of the things we have in common.”

On policy, both leaders say they support a measure that would raise the minimum wage from $8 to $11 dollars an hour by 2016.

The Massachusetts State Senate is expected to debate the bill on Tuesday.

Walsh says he supports the Senate’s bill. Patrick is signaling he prefers to tie the wage increase to unemployment insurance reforms.

“I think the senate’s proposal is great and timely,” Patrick says. “I think it would be great to have it connected as some have suggested to some reforms on the [unemployment insurance] side as well, and I’m going to look forward to working with the legislature to get all of that done.”

Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo has suggested a minimum wage increase should be connected to changes in the state’s unemployment insurance system. The Senate proposal has already garnered opposition by several business groups in the state.

If the bill becomes law, Massachusetts would be on track to have the highest state minimum wage in the country.

New England Public Radio’s Sarah Birnbaum and Henry Epp contributed to this story.