BOSTON (AP) – Gov. Mitt Romney declared Friday a state holiday in honor of Ronald Reagan, saying it is fitting to set aside a day for the former president who “inspired the nation with his optimism, patriotism and hope for America.”

Executive branch departments and agencies will be closed in what Romney declared as a “day of honor” for Reagan, who died Saturday at the age of 93.

“He led the nation with vision, courage and humor and defended freedom and democracy around the world,” Romney said Tuesday. Federal offices and the U.S. stock markets also will be closed Friday.

However, the legislative branch of state government will be open, said Charles Rasmussen, spokesman for House Speaker Thomas Finneran, D-Boston. State courts also will be open.

Romney, a Republican, made his declaration from California, where this week he attended a biotechnology conference in hopes of wooing companies to Massachusetts.

He planned to visit Reagan’s presidential library Tuesday evening, to join the tens of thousands of others who had processed by the flag-covered casket. He also planned to lay a wreath of yellow, white and blue flowers – the colors of the Massachusetts flag – at a memorial site on the library grounds in Simi Valley, Calif.

“From the people of Massachusetts with our deepest sympathy, love and appreciation,” said the message with the wreath.

Democratic Party spokeswoman Jane Lane said it was “entirely appropriate” for Romney to shut down the executive branch Friday.

“This is a time for people in this state and across the country to mourn President Reagan, who we can all agree was a true American original,” Lane said.

AP-ES-06-08-04 1655EDT

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