In his annual State of the City address, Mayor Walsh declared that "the city of Boston is as strong as it's ever been," but he laid out several proposals to make it even better and to keep Boston at the forefront of cities in which residents look out for each other and help each other out.
Walsh emphasized schools and assured those listening that "the Boston Public Schools ARE my priority." But in remarks that seemed aimed at pro-BPS parents who protested outside Symphony Hall before his speech, he added that he is equally committed to students at the city's non-BPS charter schools. And enough, already, with pitting schools against each other, he said.
Tonight, I'm calling on everyone to come together to back all our children, all our teachers, and all our schools. That means fair and sustainable funding for both district and charter schools. It means exploring a unified enrollment system that could help families and level the playing field among schools. This spring we will deepen the enrollment conversation, to address challenges in special education, language services, discipline policies, and transportation.
Walsh, who said he wakes up every morning amazed that he's living the dream of being mayor of "the world's greatest city," said it's time to ensure universal pre-K across the state - and called on state legislators and the governor to step up and increase funding to ensure that.
Education will also prove key to improving job opportuntities for young Bostonians, he said, adding he will continue to push apprenticeships and other programs that can get them into good jobs. However, he did not mention Madison Park High School, the city's only vocational school.
Walsh said he will convened a task force to look at how to get a $15 hourly minimum wage for Boston.
He said he will continue to work towards increasing the city's housing stock for the middle class:
New homes will help bring costs back to working people's budgets. But many just want a fair deal where they live right now. Last year, we doubled the compensation people get when their apartments are turned into condos. But we should do more than compensate. We should help people stay in their communities. Tonight, I can announce a new Office of Housing Stability, to do just that. It's going to develop resources for tenants, incentives for landlords who do the right thing, and partnerships with developers to keep more of our housing stock affordable.
I am so proud to announce: we have ended chronic veterans' homelessness in Boston. And we are working every day to end all chronic homelessness by the year 2018
He also patted the city on the back for building a new homeless shelter to replace all the beds lost when Long Island was suddenly shut.
Walsh noted that crime statistics - except for shootings - continues to drop in Boston, even as the number of arrests drop as well.
What that means is we are becoming a safer city not by locking people up, but by lifting people up.
But noting the increase in shooting, he said action is needed nationally:
Americans agree on common-sense gun reforms. In Boston, we are showing how to turn consensus into action. So we'll keep working with cities and states, with experts and survivors, with gun dealers and owners. And we'll keep building trust in the community every day.
He concluded by asking Bostonians for their help.
We are breaking new ground and offering new hope. We are proving that when Boston comes together, when we truly act as one community, we can change our city, and change the world. We've been doing it for a long time. From the first public library to the first Office of Recovery Services, Boston is a city on the cutting edge of the common good. We can do the same for urban education-if we come together. We can do the same for housing, income, and wealth inequality-if we work together.
That's what I ask each of us to commit to, tonight. Bring to the table not just our own wants, but a vision for our common welfare. Find common ground, even when we don't agree on everything. Protect what we love about our city by, sometimes, embracing change.