Call to Action

March 10, 2007

Good morning.

I would like to thank you for tuning into today to the first of what will become a weekly radio address to the State of Maine.

As I sit here in the State House today, there is frantic activity going on as the Legislature works on the budget I presented in January.

I delivered to you a bold, aggressive plan that will transform State government, modernize MaineCare and reform a top-heavy school administrative system. Those plans have sparked an intense conversation in communities around the State and I have seen them firsthand in packed auditoriums from Portland to Presque Isle.

But the talking has now shifted to the Legislature where lawmakers are picking away at the budget, trying to find answers to the question that troubles us.

Unfortunately, too many voices in the State have fallen silent and allowed a vocal minority to have the field of debate to itself.

Right now, those with a vested interest in the status quo – those content to just say no to any change – are dominating the public discussion. They are using fear and misinformation to hide a simple truth. If Maine is to move forward, to continue to innovate, we cannot do the same old things in the same old way.

My plan for education would consolidate 290 school administrative districts into 26 and save State and local taxpayers $241 million over the first three years. While I will gladly consider reasonable changes in the plan, I will not allow taxpayers to be cheated out of those savings.

If we were building a statewide education system from the ground up today, no one would argue for our current structure. It places too much emphasis on administration and not enough on the classroom. It cheats our students out of the resources they need to excel, and stifles the State’s ability to invest in its economy … all the while contributing to an unacceptably high tax burden.

My education plan provides real tax relief. It controls spending, focuses on student achievement and gives communities the resources to reduce property taxes.

But during last year’s campaign, many of the loudest voices demanded reduced state spending and tax relief. But during this debate about education reform – a real plan that cuts state spending and reduces taxes – those voices have fallen silent.

Where have they gone?

When I put my plan forward, I expected the hue and cry from the highly paid administrators who are trying to protect their own interests. I expected the arguments from school boards, reluctant to give up even a piece of their turf.

But I didn’t expect the silence from many of the state’s business and political leaders who for years have complained about State spending, high taxes and heavy-handed administration.

If you believe as I do, that the State’s tax burden is too high, that we must reach out to homeowners struggling with that burden every year, that significant savings can be achieved without harming critical services, then I need your help.

If you believe we need to improve science and math in our schools, I need your help.

If you believe that we need to invest in research, development innovation and private sector growth, I need your help.

As the Legislature wrangles with the difficult task of budget negotiations, it needs to hear from you.

Legislators need to know that parents, teachers and businesspeople throughout the state of Maine understand that change must come.

The forces that want to stop reform and entangle us with inaction are aligned. They are organized and effective, and their message is deceivingly simple: “Go slow, leave things alone, don’t rock the boat.”

We can no longer afford to say “no.” We have come to a crossroads where opportunity stretches out before us. But the pull of stagnation is strong and pushes us to take the easy path backwards.

Our people are experiencing the transition from an old economy to a new one. In the past our economy relied heavily on manufacturing to create wealth. Today we are moving to a new focus on innovative products and knowledge-based services. This change has brought pain and dislocation but it also heralds the possibilities of a prosperous future for all Mainers.

That Maine brand still represents quality, pride and integrity.

If we can preserve and enhance these unique assets, if we can develop and attract the new innovative businesses – from biotechnology to alternative energy, from new forest products to specialty foods – it will offer a truly sustainable prosperity.

But a bright future isn’t guaranteed or free. It must be earned with hard work and tough choices.

Now is the time for action.

No more studies.

No more delays.

No more waiting around.

If you want tax relief, if you want better schools, if you want to make sure that our children aren’t behind, and if you want a smarter, leaner State government – stand with me now.

If you want change, then your voice must be heard. Today.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Investing in Maine's Future

March 17, 2007

Good morning and welcome to a weekend of big dreams and big celebrations.

For the 65 Division I college basketball teams that have played their way into the NCAA tournament, this weekend is the beginning of an odyssey that could lead them to the Georgia Dome and a shot at a national title.

When play began this week, everything was possible for the longshot team dreaming of a chance at a late season run for glory.

For the players, coaches and fans, the future – the entire future – can feel like it’s been boiled down to just six games.

Away from the court, the cheering fans and an all-out effort typical of March Madness, the future stretches out much further than April 2 and the title game, and the consequences for coming up short are much greater.

Right now in Maine, we’re facing our own version of March Madness. Politics and deal making threaten to derail our state’s chances at a dream year.

We have an opportunity – today – to do great things and to lay the foundation for a better tomorrow.

Unfortunately, talk in the Legislature has turned to questions of what CAN pass instead of what SHOULD pass.

I will continue to push the Legislature to produce real reform plans that will deliver quality education AND provide real tax relief.

If we are able to accomplish that, we could all consider this session of the Legislature a success. But the future demands that we do much more.

On Monday, I will share with you my plans for investing in the future of the state.

After two years of missed opportunities – that’s how long it’s been since Maine voters last had the chance to approve bonds – for the sake of our roads and bridges, and our children’s future, it’s time for the people to be allowed to set the state’s investment priorities, and to make known their hopes and dreams for the future.

Earlier this month, I met representatives of three major credit rating agencies from New York. These are the people who sit in judgment about the strength of Maine’s economy.

Unanimously, they agreed that Maine has the ability to invest more into our infrastructure and into helping our economy grow.

And as a matter of fact, Maine is one of the few states, they pointed out, that repay bonds in just 10 years. Most states take 20 or 30 years, driving up costs.

So, my investment plan will focus on five areas critical to the state’s future: Education, business and job growth, quality places and transportation.

I will ask the Legislature to send to voters a bond package that looks with a sharp eye toward tomorrow and puts resources to work today building new jobs and protecting those qualities that make Maine special.

You understand the importance of making smart investments. You are discerning, smart and engaged. I trust that you will make the right decisions on how much bonding is appropriate and what our priorities should be.

But there are some who don’t trust you, and have kept the bonding decisions away from you and the ballot box.

It takes a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to send to you, the Maine voter, a question about whether or not the state should invest in its roads, its schools, in innovation and in jobs for the future.

That two-thirds requirement has allowed a minority of lawmakers – driven by ideology, and political gain – to block all efforts at reasonable investment.

There are legitimate concerns about what level of bonding is appropriate. There are costs to borrowing money. Just like a homeowner with a mortgage, we have to pay interest on the money we bond. That’s money we can’t use for other things.

But just like a homeowner, smart bonding turns borrowing into equity, and brings a return on the investment.

When we invest in business growth, we are paid back with new, and better paying jobs.

When we invest in innovation, we are paid back with new industries and cutting edge technology.

And when we invest in education, we are paid back with a population that’s better able to adapt to the challenges of a new, 21st century global economy.

The dollars we invest today will pay us back with a Maine that gives every one of our citizens the opportunity for success.

THAT’s the equity we intend to build.

As you will see, my plan is measured and affordable. It’s the investment we CAN’T afford not to make.

March Madness would take a whole new meaning if we allow bickering and ideological zeal to block meaningful investment in our future.

It’s my hope that the madness will be left on the hardwood courts and not find its way into the halls of the State House. Unlike the tournament, this is no game.

And by the way, for the millions of Irish – and those who wish they were Irish this weekend – have a very happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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Investing in Maine's Future

Investing for Tomorrow

March 24, 2007

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Maine is on the edge of a great transformation. The old ways are no longer sufficient for a 21st Century, global economy. We must all work smarter and faster and better.

I’ve proposed a three-year, $397 million investment strategy that will lay the foundation for that transformation.

We will invest in our innovation economy, in clean air and water, in education, in roads and bridges, and in private-sector job growth.

We must do it. And we must do it now.

My two-year budget began the difficult work before us. We have accepted the challenge to reform a K-12 education system burdened with excessive administration. We are putting the focus back where it belongs – in the classroom and on academic excellence. Not on who buys the chalk.

We are attacking inefficiencies throughout state government. We’re eliminating state departments and agencies, and modernizing how Human Services does its job.

But what we’re doing in the budget is not enough by itself. We must also make wise investments.

That’s why I’m proposing $131 million in bonds for transportation. That’s $100 million for roads and bridges. It’s almost $17 million for passenger and freight rail. It’s money for airports, shipping and ferries.

This investment will make it easier for people to move across the state, and for Maine goods to move across the country and around the world.

It will also make our roads and bridges safer.

With the matching dollars it will attract, the bond I’m proposing for transportation will create almost 12,000 jobs.

I am also proposing $131 million in bonds for innovation, for job growth and business development.

With that investment, Maine will help its best and brightest put their ideas to work with private companies and create private-sector jobs with good benefits.

There’s some amazing examples of what can be done. Through a public-private partnership at the University of Maine, new ballistic panels have been developed that will make tents safer and protect our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In this rapidly changing world, people can live and work any place they want.

More and more, they are choosing Maine. We have those special qualities that people thirst for. They come looking for our small towns and rejuvenated cities, for open spaces and the abundant natural resources we have worked hard to protect.

Our prosperity is tied to the environment, to clean air and water, and to the land that sustains us. We can not separate them and we shouldn’t try.

My plan includes $97 million in bonds for our quality places. We will invest in our river communities and in our working waterfronts. We will improve our parks and historic sites.

And we will make sure our water is clean and safe.

When we invest in our environment and in conservation through programs like Land for Maine’s Future, we are investing in the assets that set us apart.

For too many years, we have starved our universities and community colleges. We need to do more.

I am also proposing $33 million for the University of Maine, the community college system and Maine Maritime Academy so that our people can continue to receive a great education.

Our colleges are bursting at the seams. My plan will invest in the lab space and classrooms we need to meet the demands of a growing number of students and of an economy that seeks a highly skilled work force.

My plan is aggressive, but it is also affordable.

It takes careful measure of what we can do, and what we need to do.

Four years ago, we faced some incredible obstacles. Since then, we have closed a $1.2 billion structural gap, eliminated $250 million in short-term borrowing and rebuilt our reserve accounts from zero to $150 million.

That hard work has put us on firmer foundation, and has given us the opportunity to invest today.

Earlier this month, I met with representatives of three major credit rating agencies from New York. These are the people who judge the strength of Maine’s economy.

Unanimously, they agreed that Maine has the ability to use bonds to invest more to help its economy grow.

For the past two years, politics has stood in the way of progress. Moving Maine shouldn’t be about Democratic ideas or Republican ideas. Partisanship has no place in this debate.

I expect the Legislature to consider a comprehensive bond package, one that sets us on a stable and predictable investment strategy for the next three years.

Anything less is to betray the people we were elected to serve.

We have an opportunity – today – to do great things and to lay the foundation for a better tomorrow.

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Healthcare in Maine

March 31, 2007

This is Governor John Baldacci and this morning I’m going to be talking about the problems of health care in Maine and what I propose to do about it.

The problems – as you and I both know – are easy to identify in this area. Rising costs, unaffordable insurance make it impossible for an ever growing number of people to get the care they need.

People are forced to go without medicine, tests and attention. Their problems get worse, their health declines, and they are put under physical, emotional and financial stress.

So we know what’s wrong, now the question is what do we do about it?

I am proud that four years ago we enacted the Dirigo Comprehensive Health Reforms, and much has been accomplished. The rate of the people who lack health insurance in our state has been better than the national average. But we must do more. Yes, we have helped small businesses provide insurance to their employees, we’ve given individuals a place to turn when the insurance market failed them, and in some cases we’ve saved lives.

But now is the time to take the next step and learn from these experiences.

Dirigo is going to continue to grow moderately as we move towards universal coverage.

But we also must to more. We must do more in terms of competition amongst the private health care plans.

We must make sure that we have added transparency and held accountable those companies that have gotten a blank check from our health care system.

The work began earlier this week - a bill that was introduced by Representative Jill Conover of Oakland. That bill will create the opportunity for Dirigo’s foundation to expand and give the program the ability to increase competition while lowering costs.

I strongly support that legislation, but health reform can’t stop there.

We’ve built on the state’s MaineCare program to reach out to more individuals, parents and children.

But we must change the way the program does business. We must control the costs, administration, better manage the care.

And as part of my budget, we’ve already proposed bringing the amount we pay for services more in line with other states, and also introduced changes that will create better financial oversight and control.

But more is coming.

No more using the emergency room unless it is an emergency.

And we’re going to put a stop to the MaineCare merry-go-round where patients have too many different doctors. Every member will have a primary care provider who will better manage their care.

And we’re going to add a pharmacy co-payment for those who can afford it without cutting a hole in the social safety net.

To increase the available and affordable choices and maintain protections for those who buy insurance, we’re going to change the regulations in the individual and small group market.

More competition, more choices and more affordable.

I will give regulators the tools they need so there are no more rubber-stamp approvals for rate hikes.

We all know what it means to be uninsured – you don’t have insurance.

But being underinsured is a little tougher to understand.

It means that every month, you pay a premium to an insurance company, sometimes hundreds of dollars. But because the plan has a high deductible – often as high as $5,000 – you can’t really afford to go to the doctor.

As the line goes, the only thing worse than no health insurance is paying for no health insurance.

We’re going to refocus Dirigo on enrolling the uninsured and the underinsured, and reduce costs for businesses to participate in the program.

Dirigo will never become the only insurance plan available, but it can help to increase competition. It can become the public yardstick we use to measure other insurance plans.

We all have a part to play – government, businesses and individuals – in making sure everyone has health care security.

It’s about shared responsibility. First we will work to make insurance more affordable, everyone will be expected to do his or her part.

Since day one, health care reform has had its enemies and challenges. They have spared no expense in attacking our program.

They want it dead because to them it’s just numbers on paper. They think people have too much insurance, too much health care, and the government has no role in protecting people’s health.

They are wrong.

They only need to look at the oldest with the Medicare Program; our sickest, our seniors in nursing homes with Medicaid; our children and families; and our Veterans at our VA Togus facility and Veteran facilities across the country. It’s been the people in the middle who need more help. So far, DirigoChoice has helped more than 24,000 of them.

Health care security is about real people, with real lives and real families. They work hard, they play by the rules yet somehow, before Dirigo, there was no room for many of them in the system.

I’ve talked to the small business owner who was able to have the medical tests she needed because of Dirigo. I’ve talked to the woman whose cancer in her family was detected early enough to treat – and beat -- because of Dirigo.

We cannot turn – and I will not turn my back on them. That’s not how we do things in Maine. Thank you.

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Holiday Weekend

April 7, 2007

Good morning. Thank you for joining me on this special weekend.

There’s much we could talk about, from Maine’s appearance in the Frozen Four, to the debate in the Maine Legislature over bonds, or the budget, or health care. We could talk about the first week of the baseball season, but I think I’ll refrain from that for a while.

As worthy as all of those topics are, none of them seem appropriate for today.

This weekend, Christians around the world will celebrate the most important holiday of the year for their faith – Easter.

We’re also in the midst of the eight-day celebration of Passover, when Jews remember their exodus and freedom from the slavery of ancient Egypt.

Regardless of your personal faith, Easter and Passover remind us of the opportunity for renewal, to reinvent ourselves, to be those things we all want to be – a better friend, or a better neighbor.

It’s no mistake that Easter comes in the early days of spring, at least here in Maine. The cold, gray days of winter are losing their grip, even if they aren’t entirely gone.

Everything feels possible.

It is the hope of a new day.

But during this time, we must also be mindful of the challenges, sacrifices and pain that we face around the world.

In the two millennia since the death of Jesus, the world has not been able to lay down the sword or to attain lasting peace.

On this holiday of rebirth and hope, U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines find themselves in places torn apart by violence and hate. Whether you agree with the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan or not, our men and women are doing their duty and their best to bring peace to lands ripped open by strife.

Just this week, we laid to rest Sgt. Jason Swiger, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. Sgt. Swiger graduated from South Portland High School. He was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber.

Sgt. Swiger is one of five men with Maine ties who have died while serving their country just since February.

We mourn each one, and honor their sacrifice, dedication and commitment to service and country. They are all heroes. And our prayers go out to their families and to the families of every person still serving in harm’s way.

As we join together with family and friends on the holy days of Easter and Passover, it’s appropriate for us to consider many of the common ideals that are shared across so many faiths.

During the Passover Seder, a traditional meal served on the first night of the holiday week, family and friends gather together to retell through symbols and ceremony the birth of the Jewish nation.

Through the asking and answering of four questions and the details of the meal, the story of the exodus is retold.

The elements of the Seder represent different aspects of the story. The evening is built upon keeping alive a shared history of upheaval and hope.

It’s a good lesson for all of us. It’s important to remember where we all came from as we try to chart our path into the future. And it’s important to know that even on the darkest night, the dawn will follow.

When I talk to the families who have paid such a high price for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I know that every day of this life is a gift that comes without any guarantees or promises.

It should be cherished and celebrated in the way we conduct ourselves, and in the deeds we undertake.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “It is in our lives and not our words that religion must be read.”

God bless you and happy Easter.

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Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

April 14, 2007

Good morning.

The two most important things that we have a responsibility to do in government are one, to prepare our children for a bright future and to preserve and protect our natural.

Global warming is real. There is overwhelming scientific agreement that we are changing the environment that sustains us.

The stakes are incredibly high. If we allow climate change to continue, the world faces terrible consequences that could put Maine’s economy and quality of life at risk.

While the problem is daunting, we are taking steps right now to halt the growth of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, that cause global warming.

Together with Rep. Ted Koffman of Bar Harbor and Sen. Phil Bartlett of Gorham, I introduced legislation this week that will move Maine forward with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, called RGGI for short.

RGGI is a coalition of 10 Northeastern states that have pledged to reduce the production of the gases that contribute to global warming and climate change.

The need for action is urgent.

The science tells us we need to move forward to find solutions.

Nationally, the politics of global warming have stood in the way of progress.

Environmental groups have been fighting it out with industry and the business community. The result is a stalemate, which allows the problem to get worse.

In Maine, it’s different.

Working with leaders in the House and Senate and the state’s environmental and business groups, we have been able to craft a plan that will produce real progress.

It’s called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Act of 2007.

Too often, political rhetoric pits the environment against jobs.

That’s a false choice we don’t have to make.

We know that in Maine because our air, water and natural resources are closely tied to our economic health.

Around the country, this has become a partisan issue, with Democrats and Republicans divided. It doesn’t have to be that way. Already, there is bipartisan support for our efforts to combat climate change.

Republican State Sen. Dana Dow from Lincoln County spoke very eloquently this week at our press conference and there are many other republican co-sponsors.

Together, we are setting a course that will reduce the emissions of climate-changing gases.

Our plan also invests in energy efficiency for homes and businesses, and it protects electric customers from unreasonable rate increases.

Maine has already led the way nationally in with our energy policies.

We were the first state government that bought 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

We established tax credits for the production of alternative fuels in the state.

And we have set an achievable goal of increasing renewable power in Maine by 10 percent over the next decade.

My commitment to energy conservation, to energy efficiency, and to renewable energy is longstanding. Because it is right for the environment. It is right for consumers. And, it is right for the economy.

To address climate change, back in 2003 I directed the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a Climate Change Action Plan to assess and address climate change in Maine. The DEP developed this plan. Maine was the first in the nation. California has now followed our lead.

The cap-and-trade program that came from that Plan is one of the most effective greenhouse gas reduction strategies both in terms of carbon reductions and cost-effectiveness.

What we’ve done will create a regular and predictable market, prevent market manipulation, and help consumers by reducing bills and long-term costs of energy.

There are naysayers out there who deny that global warming is happening. They point to the snow on the ground in April or the storm that we just had, or a really cold day when the car wouldn’t start.

They refute the science on grounds that can best be described as blind faith. Just six weeks ago, an international panel confirmed that there is general scientific agreement that human activities are causing rapid global warming.

2006 was the hottest year on record. And while we’ve had an unusual April, you can remember December and January were the warmest in the books.

We know climate change is real.

You can stop in and ask hunters and fishermen that gather and they’ll tell you the ice is late to come and early to leave. There’s very little snow to track deer in the fall.

Farmers can tell you because it has affected their planting and harvesting.

Loggers about the ground not being frozen enough for them to work for much of the winter.

If things don’t change, our coastal communities could be threatened by rising sea levels and our industries in fishing could be endangered.

We all have a part to play. Working together we can make a difference for our state, for our children and for their future.

Thank you.

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Patriot's Day Storm

April 21, 2007

Good morning

Some mornings it’s harder to say those words than others.

This week, the entire nation has grieved with Virginia Tech.

In a senseless act of violence, 32 lives were cut short by a deranged gunman.

The randomness and cruelty of this attack are haunting. What happened doesn’t make sense, and it never will.

Virginia Tech, Virginia and all the families affected remain in our thoughts and in our prayers. On Friday and at the request of Governor Kaine of Virginia, Maine joined in a Day of Mourning to honor the victims of the shooting.

While Virginia was dealing with man-made chaos, in Maine we were dealing with the fury of nature.

A Patriots’ Day Storm slammed into Maine early Monday morning. The storm brought high winds, heavy rain and a damaging storm surge.

I’ve seen the aftermath up close and from the air, and it is devastating. People have lost their homes, roads have been destroyed, businesses closed and – worst of all – four people have lost their lives.

Days before the storms hit, Maine started to prepare. The Maine Emergency Management Agency, County and City Emergency Management personnel put into place plans that surely saved lives and property.

Early Monday morning, I declared a state of emergency that allowed us to seek help from other states and Canada to restore power, and to reallocate resources to areas of greatest need around the state.

Representatives from every agency in state government and the Red Cross were activated as part of the State’s Emergency Response Team and worked tirelessly to coordinate the response to the storm.

On the ground, facing the teeth of the storm, countless men and women put themselves in harm’s way to help others.

When a swollen river swept Donna Dube and her four-year-old granddaughter away, George Eliason of Lebanon went into the water to try to save them.

In the end, he couldn’t and had to be pulled from the water himself by Game Wardens and Marine Patrol officers, but his bravery will not be forgotten, and neither will their’s.

I was monitoring the storm and rescue efforts from MEMA’s Emergency Operations Center when news came in that the little girl’s backpack had been found floating in the river.

There’s just nothing to be said. The family and entire community remain in our prayers.

As the day continued, the news got a little better. Dozens of people were rescued from their cars and houses.

Game Wardens Bruce Loring and Jeremy Judd, working from an airboat, turned tragedy to triumph.

They came upon a car, wedged against a guardrail. A 20-year-old woman was curled inside. Wardens Loring and Judd got the woman out of the car and into their boat only to find that it was pinned to the car by the raging water.

People on shore threw the wardens a rope and were able to pull the boat free.

And in Alna, members of the Maine National Guard assigned to close a flooded road responded with firefighters to a four-alarm fire at the Old Meeting House.

These are just a few of the stories of countless heroes that responded when Maine needed them most.

Their stories aren’t the only ones we should remember. Power crews worked day and night to get the lights turned back on. They faced an enormous task with more than 130,000 meters, affecting nearly 300,000 people.

I talked to a woman on Saco Beach who told me that she helped her neighbor get collectables and items in the house before the house was destroyed, so at least they would have those memories to continue on in their lives as they rebuild their homes and their futures.

And I asked her what made her do that. She said to me that they would have done the same thing for her and that’s why she reached out to help them.

And that’s why this is a great state, because we have great people like that in our state.

Contractors and private companies answered the call without hesitation, delivering critical supplies, making sure that things were taken care of.

The storm is over now and we have shifted from responding to the disaster to recovery. I’ve asked the federal government to declare Maine a disaster so we can qualify for the financial assistance that will help people get back on their feet.

We are working with the SBA to make sure they are helping our businesses to re-open.

And we are working with FEMA to assess the damage and get repairs started. We will not rest until the job is done.

But today is a new day. We have weathered the storm, and we’ve come through to the other side. We hold close to our hearts those who have been lost, and offer our thanks that things weren’t worse.

Maine’s best days remain ahead of us. The roads will be fixed and the homes rebuilt.

And as bad as the storm was, many places in Maine were unaffected and their natural beauty was left untouched. Maine is open for business and we will recover stronger and better.

The sun is shining and the clouds have past.

God bless you, and God bless Maine.

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Storm Recovery

April 28, 2007

Good morning.

For much of the state, life is beginning to return to normal after a difficult week.

On Patriots’ Day weekend, Maine was hit with an intense rain and high wind storm – with gusts reaching more than 80 miles per hour.

Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power. Roads and bridges were destroyed. Homes and lives were lost.

But now, the weather has cleared, school vacation is over and the Legislature is back in session.

A number of big issues remain in the works.

The Legislature continues to work on the budget I proposed back in January. I am determined that we will have a two-year budget that reduces K-12 administration costs, reduces the burden on taxpayers and increases the quality of education. I am also determined that we will find savings and improve care through better management of human services.

My administration is also advancing a plan that will reduce the cost increases of health insurance in Maine for individuals and small businesses, improving their access to coverage and keeping us all on a track to be the healthiest state in the nation.

Just this week, I vetoed legislation that would have doubled the number of slot machines in the state without first seeking voter approval. Come November, voters will have the final say on the question.

Even with all of that, my administration and I have remained focused on the Patriots’ Day Storm. I’ve received daily updates on what’s going on and what needs to be going on.

I read every e-mail sent to my office about families and businesses that are struggling.

And I can promise everyone out there still trying to recover – You have not been forgotten.

At times, progress can feel painfully slow.

On Tuesday night, Camp Ellis came together to talk about what needs to happen to better protect their community.

There was a lot of frustration. People wanted answers and they wanted action.

Those are the same things that I want.

Late Wednesday afternoon, we learned that President Bush has declared six counties in Maine as major disasters, which will qualify them for federal aid in rebuilding roads and bridges, and other public property.

We are convinced that more areas will also qualify for federal help. But it doesn’t happen automatically.

Individuals and business owners need to report damage to their town offices. The reports don’t guarantee that everyone will receive assistance; but it does help the Federal Emergency Management Agency determine if individuals will qualify for federal aid.

Damage estimates from the storm continue to rise. As of Wednesday, they’re exceeding $42 million and we know that more than 2,000 homes have been damaged.

But as much as some areas have suffered, I remain amazed at the resilience of Maine people.

On Thursday, I visited New Meadow Lobster in Portland. The business is on Commercial Street and was hit hard by the storm.

The owner, Peter McAleney, told me that he suffered more than $300,000 of damage. That’s the bad news.

The good news – is less than two weeks later, New Meadows is ready for the season, which begins next week. He’s been busy working and trying to get things ready. He tells me that he will be open for business.

It’s a story that’s been repeated all over the state. People are getting back on their feet, they’re helping each other out and they’re getting ready for a busy summer when tourists from all over the world will make their way to Maine.

And I’m making sure that Maine government is doing all that it can do to help.

The Finance Authority of Maine has created two programs that will provide low-cost loans to businesses hit by the storm.

And the Maine Housing Authority has programs to help people make repairs to their homes or to replace it entirely if it’s been damaged beyond repair.

There’s a lot going on right, and a lot of big issues that will draw the TV cameras and the headlines over the next few weeks.

Many of them are important and deserve the attention.

But Maine should know that no matter what else is happening, my administration is committed to helping families and communities recover from this devastating storm.

Related Documents

Storm Recovery

Principles

May 5, 2007

Good morning.

This week, Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature presented their visions of how to balance Maine’s budget. Much of what they proposed goes a long way toward what I hoped to achieve when I unveiled my plans in January.

They’ve come up with some good ideas.

But they’ve also come up with some things I find troubling. Nonetheless, I remain confident that we can find the right path forward for Maine.

In the budget I presented, I took a strategic approach toward Maine’s future.

I increased funding for higher education and put more investment in innovative industries that will help Maine’s economy grow and help create good-paying, sustainable, private-sector jobs.

If we want good jobs in the state of Maine, we have to make investments that will help businesses grow, and we have to make the investments in education that will create a highly trained work force.

I also proposed significant reforms to the administrative structure of K-12 education and in the administrative structure of the delivery of human services.

Our current structures don’t work any more. They cost too much, waste money on duplication and inefficiencies. We have to change.

My plan will downsize school administration, invest the savings on behalf of students and teachers, and give relief to taxpayers. While many of the details are still being worked on in the Legislature, I remain committed to those original goals.

We must change now for the sake of quality education, to reduce the property tax burden and to strengthen Maine’s economy.

Since January, the Education and Appropriations committee have worked hard to find a plan that will restructure school districts and achieve administrative savings.

They deserve a lot of credit for tackling a tough issue.

But there’s more work that needs to be done, even if we can see the finish line from where we are standing.

We must achieve the level of sustainable savings that I proposed. That’s $36.5 million in the state budget. And there must be predictable savings for the future and we must have guaranteed property tax relief for our citizens.

We have to commit to actual change, we just can’t talk about the possibility of working together in new ways and not do anything about it.

School aid is 32 percent of the state budget. Of all property taxes in Maine, 63 percent go to K-12 education.

We must achieve real, substantial cost-efficiencies now. Parents, businesses, taxpayers want to invest in quality classroom education, not in excess administration.

While restructuring administration, we must support local schools. Local people must have a clear voice in their schools.

Administrative change must not mandate school closings. There’s nothing in my plan that calls for any schools to close.

When I think about the idea of local control of education, we’re not talking about school boards and superintendents and where the superintendents put their desk…we’re talking about parental involvement. That’s the most important thing for a child’s education and their futures.

It’s not about being involved in those decisions indirectly, but directly because they affect our kids. So it’s not the bus routes and purchasing, it’s parents working with teachers and principals to teach kids – that’s local control.

My dad used to say, “You can teach a child how to brush their teeth in school, but if they don’t practice it at home it’s not going to matter much.”

And we also have to guarantee property tax relief. Maine people want excellence in education and they want us to spend their tax dollars wisely.

Over four years, the state has invested over $700 million in new funding in K-12 education. Now taxpayers need a break.

As the state achieves its 55 percent share of school aid and as administrative efficiencies occur, school districts and municipalities must show their voters how school funds are being spent.

Local voters must have the final say on school budgets and property tax relief.

Sustainable savings, change now, local support and local control of school spending and property tax relief — those are the principles I hold for school reform.

I’ll settle for nothing less.

Mainers are frugal and community minded. They have a passion for participation, and they understand that sometimes we must undertake difficult challenges for the sake of our children.

Support for change continues to grow. More and more, I hear from people that they understand that Maine can’t just tread water.

We’ve come a long way since January. As we finish work on the budget, I remain committed to those core principles of making sure that Maine moves forward, but moves smartly.

Thank you and good day.

Related Documents

Principles

Back to the Table

May 12, 2007

Good morning.

During this past week, Maine has been treated to a spectacle that shows up about every two years.

Advocates – many of them really good people – holding rallies in Bangor, Augusta and Portland warning of terrible doom and gloom.

This year, we had horse trailers and dump trucks circling the State House.

We had dual, made-for-television moments in different media markets protesting spending reforms in the state’s delivery of human services.

There are letters, phone calls, post cards and placards, all foretelling of desperate times if this idea or that becomes law.

It’s a little showy at times and it sure can get some people worked up, but in the end it’s all part of the process for developing a two-year state budget.

The decisions lawmakers are responsible for in Augusta resonate throughout the State.

And for all the hyperbole, the State budget really does have far-reaching impacts on the everyday lives of Mainers.

That’s why I take responsibility to propose a forward-looking and responsible budget so seriously.

Back in January, I submitted a budget to the Legislature that struck the appropriate balance between supporting the programs that directly and positively touch people and reduce the high costs of administration in both state and local government.

My budget included a major educational reform of consolidating administration in K-12 education and by guaranteeing property tax relief for citizens who have been over property taxed for years.

It required a dollar increase in the cigarette tax to pay for a requirement that the citizens of Maine voted for to have the state pay 55% of local education. From 50 – 55% cost the state $170 million.

By proposing a dollar increase in the cigarette tax, that equaled $137 million over the two-year period. I asked the state Department of Finance to cut an additional $33 million out of state government so we would be able to put $170 million in K-12 education in this two-year budget.

I know cigarettes take an enormous toll on the health and welfare of the State; I know that citizens don’t appreciate taxes on cigarettes; but smoking costs the state more than $500 million a year in unnecessary medical expenses. It literally kills the State’s most valuable asset – our people. We know that higher cigarette taxes reduce the number of people who smoke, especially among young people.

Protecting the health of our kids should be our highest priority, and we know raising the cigarette tax does just that.

Unfortunately, the Legislature reacted coolly to a few of the ideas in my budget. Now they are tying themselves into knots.

I don’t understand how, given a choice between protecting the health of Mainers and protecting the profits of Big Tobacco, somebody could side with a known killer.

My budget protects the health and welfare of our State’s residents by making sure nobody loses access to doctors, medicine or other vital services through MaineCare.

But our current spending can’t continue unchecked.

That’s why I proposed serious reforms of the State’s MaineCare program. On every health care choice I’ve ever made, I’ve been guided by three principles: Will it improve health, Make the system fairer and reduce the amount of money we spend on administration.

We’re not talking about throwing people into the streets. We’re only slowing how fast we allow spending to grow. The changes aren’t easy, but they are fair and they protect our people not just during the next two years but for years to come.

Maine has a tradition of passing bipartisan budgets. These require two-thirds support in the Legislature. That structure means neither party can pass a budget alone this time of the year, and that just a few people – a minority of lawmakers – can stop progress.

But it also means that everybody has a moral obligation to come to the table and negotiate in good faith.

Building a good two-year budget is difficult, but it’s not out of reach. I’ve already given the Legislature a good blueprint to follow.

And I’m asking you to call the Legislature to let them know that they should support the blueprint that the Governor laid out for them.

That number is 1-800-423-2900 in the House; 1-800-423-6900 in the Senate.

Let them know that they need to support the blueprint that I put forward that reforms education, guarantees property tax relief and invests in our economy. That’s what protects our future. That’s what protects our children.

And on a different note, I think it’s important to also recognize mothers and wishing all the mothers in Maine a Happy Mother’s Day. We couldn’t do what we do without them and thank you.

Related Documents

Back to the Table

Keep Pushing

May 19, 2007

Good day.

On Monday, we received confirmation for something we already knew was true – all the hard work and tough budget decisions we have made during the past four years are beginning to pay dividends.

Standard and Poor’s, one of the premier financial rating companies in the world, raised Maine’s credit score.

Just like an individual, states are judged on how credit worthy they are. And just like a person, everything from income to debt are part of the calculation.

We’ve moved up, and that’s great news.

In its report, they specifically pointed to things that we’re doing right in Maine.

Our economic and financial position are improving.

We have controlled budget growth.

We have made great progress in rebuilding the state’s reserves.

And our state debt is low, and we pay it back quicker than most other states.

The analyst responsible for giving Maine it’s grade summed it up nicely:

“We expect that the state’s prudent financial and debt management practices will continue to lead to positive financial operations and a long-term structural budget balance.”

Now it might not sound too exciting, but let me assure you it is.

Terms like “prudent management,” and “positive financial operations” don’t fit neatly into newspaper headlines or 30-second sound bites.

But it’s music to my ears and it should be to yours.

And the song they sing tells Mainers that we are moving in the right direction. All of the tough decisions that we’ve made in my first four years are beginning to work.

Four years ago, when I was first elected Governor, Maine faced a $1.2 billion budget gap.

Our reserves were sitting on empty.

Every year since then, I’ve balanced the budget, the gap has gotten smaller.

And we’ve built up our reserves to more than $150 million from zero.

Big change doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen and it has.

The new budget submitted for the next go-round will be about a tenth of where we were when I started back in 2003.

And we did it while we added $700 new million dollars to fund K-12 education to the level that the people voted for, to 55 percent.

It wasn’t easy. But it was the right thing to do for the state.

To continue Maine on the path to economic success, we must continue to make “prudent” and “long-term” budget decisions.

Right now, the Legislature continues to wrestle with how to balance the state’s budget for the next two years. I’ve given them a plan that protects the values that Mainers hold dear while providing real reform in the administration of education and human services, that account for 80 percent of our budget.

Maine’s constitution requires the Legislature to pass a balanced budget, but there’s always a temptation to look for the easiest path.

My budget doesn’t rely on one-time money, smoke and mirrors or tricks with numbers. It does add some new revenue by increasing the cigarette tax, but it couples it with administrative cuts to come up with the money necessary to fund education to 55 percent and also requires guaranteed property tax relief for that money going into education from the state side.

But just as important as what my budget does for the next two years, it also institutes reforms that we want to carry forward into the future budget.

We’ve got to change the way we’re doing business.

The structures that served us well for 50 years aren’t working, and they are tying our hands – keeping us from taking full advantage of the opportunities in this 21st Century global economy.

We’ll take our medicine today; and we’re going to make the reforms we all know that we have to make.

And, at the end of the day, when the final tally is taken, Maine’s economy will be healthier and the prospects for our people will be brighter.

If you’ve ever struggled to pay your bills, you know it’s a lot easier to get into trouble than it is to get out.

There’s no magic wand or silver bullet. Progress comes at the end of a day of hard work.

That’s where we are here in Maine. We stand firm, put our shoulders against the grindstone and we push.

And when it comes to this year’s budget, I’m doing the same thing. Planting my feet, putting my shoulder to the wheel and pushing.

And I’m not going to accept anything less than real progress.

I’m going to need your help.

Prosperity is in sight. All that stands in the way is making the right choices – reforming schools, streamlining government, improving human services, and cutting out the budget tricks. Call your legislator and let them know we need to move Maine forward.

Together we can get there from here. Thank you very much.

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Keep Pushing

Memorial Day Weekend

May 26, 2007

Good day.

This weekend, we honor the memory and the sacrifice of military men and women who have died in service to the United States of America.

The origins of Memorial Day date back to the Civil War, and the tradition of Decoration Days that were common in Southern States.

As the name suggests, communities set aside particular days to pay their respect to the men who had been killed.

The practice was soon adopted in the North, and after World War I it was expanded to honor fallen soldiers from all of the country’s wars.

Even while war rages today in Iraq and Afghanistan, we still struggle with the long shadows of fighting that ended long ago.

Last week, I attended the funeral of Staff Sgt. Glendon Harris. Sgt. Harris died more than 60 years ago while serving in the Army Air Corps in New Guinea.

While on a bombing mission, his B-25 was shot down by Japanese fighters. He and the rest of the flight crew perished in the jungle.

His remains were left unidentified, buried in the Tomb of the Unknowns in the Philippines, until new technologies finally caught up with old injustice.

On Saturday, Sgt. Harris finally came home to Maine.

Then on Monday, Air Force Col. Paul Getchell of Portland, a casualty from a different time and a different struggle – but with a similar story – was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

Col. Getchell was killed in action during a bombing mission over Laos in 1969. But his remains were not identified until recently.

Finally, for Col. Getchell’s family, the Vietnam War can be over.

We welcome both of these men home and remember their sacrifice, especially during this weekend.

There’s an inscription carved in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Philadelphia.

It says, “Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness.”

Long ago, Sgt. Harris and Col. Getchell gave up their lives defending the United States of America, and the freedom and liberty we often take for granted.

It has been a long time, but this grateful nation hasn’t forgotten them or the millions of others who fought along side them. And we never will.

Unfortunately, our nation’s wars are not all in the past.

So, as we enjoy the start of summer here in Maine with a long weekend and in the company of family and friends, brave men and women are serving their country in war zones around the world.

Members of the Maine National Guard and Army Reserves are serving in Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Great Britain and around the world.

Every day, they do their duty. I am humbled by their dedication and commitment.

Too often during my term as Governor, I have placed calls to the families of young men who died in uniform.

There is terrible grief and sadness in those phone calls. But there is also pride and dignity in the voices of folks who have every reason to be upset.

Instead, they want to talk about their son, their husband, their father. They want me to know that they loved their country and what they were doing and that they were proud to wear its uniform.

So on Memorial Day, flags will be lowered around Maine until Noon, in honor and tribute to America’s fallen soldiers. Then the flags will be raised to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of our country’s war heroes.

Since the birth of this nation, men and women have answered duty’s call. Many have laid down their lives and made the ultimate sacrifice.

So on this day when we remember, we pray for them and we pray for their families.

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Memorial Day Weekend

Budget Passes

June 10, 2007

Good day.

Last week, Maine showed once again what sets it apart from most other places around the country.

Democrats and Republicans coming together, working in good faith toward a common goal, to overwhelmingly pass a two-year bipartisan budget for the State of Maine.

Such cooperation is rare.

You only have to look at the evening news or the morning newspaper to understand what I mean. Partisanship overpowers ideas, and progress is stalled by ideology.

As we did earlier this year when the Legislature called for, and approved, a package that will invest $295 million in growing the state’s economy, Democrats and Republicans have found common ground on the state’s spending priorities for the next two years.

I am proud of what we have accomplished together.

The budget contains the first significant reform in the administrative structure of K-12 education in more than 50 years in the State of Maine.

It puts the focus on educating kids, not unnecessary administrative costs.

And it gives communities the opportunity for real property tax relief.

When we began work on this budget six months ago, we were given little chance for success. But Maine lawmakers stuck with it.

It took an incredible commitment from members of the Education and Appropriations committees and from leaders on both sides of the aisle.

The easy path was to stick with the status quo, no matter how flawed or unsustainable.

Like often is the case, doing the right thing was much more difficult.

The roll call of people who poured their hearts and soul into this and found a way to make it work is long. The state owes a debt of gratitude to each one of them for helping us to set the state upon the right course.

(OPTIONAL TO INCLUDE NAMES)

But much of the credit also belongs to Mainers who may never visit the State House, who stepped forward to support our vision for Maine with phone calls, e-mails, letters and advertisements.

In this state, the Governor and the Legislature are close to the people. We talk with you, we listen to you, we work with you. With this budget, we have heard your call for property tax relief, for better government, cutting government costs and improving education.

You made this happen.

Throughout the budget process, I have held true to the core principles in my original budget proposal.

We are reducing unnecessary administration in K-12 education and focusing our resources on the classroom where they belong. We are streamlining and cutting administrative costs in state government, especially in human services, and investing in higher education and research and development to grow Maine’s economy.

With the changes this budget makes, we lay the foundation for more opportunities for more Mainers throughout the state. And we will begin a new era in efficient and responsive government.

The work on this budget doesn’t end with its passage. The big job of implementing it remains.

I am committed to making sure our education reforms move forward in the best, most consistent way. I will stay involved and I will be in communities around the state – just like I was in January and February – to make sure things are moving in the right direction.

Passing the law is only the beginning. Now we must make sure it works.

It would be easy to dwell on the excitement and accomplishments of the past week and the passage of a bipartisan budget.

But the work continues.

This week, I look forward to signing several pieces of legislation that have incredible bipartisan support in the Legislature.

I expect to sign a bill into law that will once again put Maine on the forefront of environmental stewardship by taking an aggressive stand on the emissions of pollution that is changing our environment.

I also expect to sign a bill that will outlaw dangerous chemicals from household products, making the state a safer and healthier place to live.

And I expect to sign one of the nation’s most aggressive efforts to end unscrupulous and predatory lending practices in the state.

We’ve also got work to do on health care and tax reform.

And I’m proud of the work that we have been able to do so far. We have made the tough decisions, set the priorities that will guide Maine for the next two years.

We’re not going to rest on the success, but instead hope to build upon it.

We have a better foundation for all Mainers to have prosperity and opportunity for the 21st Century. I expect that more great things will be coming.

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Budget Passes

Accomplishments/Father's Day

June 16, 2007

Happy Father’s Day Weekend. Thanks for sharing a few moments of it with me.

This time of year, I can’t help but think about my own father and mother and the influence they had on my life. Without his guidance, I would not be the person I am today.

My father was a man of great integrity. He never shied away from doing the right thing, no matter how difficult it was.

He was dedicated to public service, and he was the person who first urged me to run for office almost 30 years ago.

I was lucky to have someone in my life who set such a positive example and I think about him often.

There’s a plaque that sits behind my desk. It asks: “What have you done for the people today?” It’s a question my father would ask me everyday, and it’s a question I ask myself everyday.

In Augusta, we’re heading into the last days of the Legislative session, and while time is short, there’s still much left to do.

But it’s also a good time to look at what already has been accomplished during this session.

When I think about my father’s question, I feel good about what we have accomplished.

Last week, Maine voters approved the first of a series of ballot questions that will help grow opportunity and prosperity throughout the state.

On Tuesday, voters said “yes” to investing $113 million in making our roads and bridges safer and it will attract $260 million federal dollars.

Voters also approved an $18 million investment in cleaner, safer water, which will attract almost $50 million federal dollars to help protect Maine’s water supply.

The two bond questions were passed by large majorities, re-affirming that Mainers will make the right decision when given the opportunity and the information.

The bonds were part of a package that was approved with strong bipartisan support in the Legislature earlier this year.

Voters will answer the remaining questions about investing in land, economic development, innovation and higher education during elections this November and next June.

Also this session, the Legislature approved my budget, which included the first substantial reorganization of K-12 administration in more than 50 years.

The plan will improve education, save taxpayers’ money and make our education system more efficient. It took a tremendous effort by hundreds of people, and at the end of the day we have something that all of us can be proud of.

We’ve also made real progress on protecting our environment, advancing renewable energy sources and keeping our children safe from dangerous toxins that have been hidden around us in every day items.

This session we passed bipartisan legislation that affirms Maine’s place as an environmental leader.

On Monday, I will sign a bill into law that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from Maine. This law will set the standard that other states will follow.

Last Thursday, I signed a bill that will ban the toxic flame retardant deca from products sold in Maine. Right now, that material is tucked away in furniture and television sets, needlessly exposing our children to dangerous substances.

No more. We know that there are better alternatives, and we’re working with both parties in the Legislature. We’ve made sure that those alternatives will be used from now on.

And through executive orders, I have formed groups that will help our state move forward with wind power, a clean and renewable way to generate electricity, and to protect the special qualities and natural resources that make Maine special.

On the surface, these issues might not seem related. But they are.

Taken together, our stewardship of the state’s finances and our environment, wise investments in education, innovation and economic development, health care and transportation will make Mainer stronger and more economically sound.

We’ve improved our long-term financial prospects, we’ve invested in areas that will help us grow, and we’ve made sure that our natural resources, clean water and air, and special places can be enjoyed for years to come.

All the hard work comes back to one idea.

I want every person in our state to have an opportunity for prosperity. It’s my goal to make sure they have the tools they need for success.

The work we’ve done this spring is a good start. But I’m not finished.

I will continue to demand fiscal discipline, aggressive government reform and restructuring, and investment in areas that will make our state that much better.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Accomplishments/Father's Day

End of Session

June 23, 2007

Good day.

The first session of the 123rd Legislature adjourned this week, ending a productive six months.

Maine people can be proud of their representatives in Augusta. This session opened with a long list of goals. Hard work and a strong will to work together for the benefit of all Maine people enabled us to accomplish much. Indeed, this has been one of the most productive legislative sessions I can remember.

With overwhelming, bipartisan support, we created a two-year budget that makes the most significant reforms in K-12 education in more than 50 years. It imposes new spending discipline upon state government, and invests in innovation and higher education.

With overwhelming, bipartisan support, we developed a package of targeted investments that make our roads and bridges safer, will protect the state’s special places and will help grow private-sector, sustainable jobs with good benefits.

And with near unanimous support, we have taken major steps forward to protect our environment by reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. We protected our citizens from toxic chemicals hidden inside consumer goods.

Thanks to your efforts, Maine now has one of the toughest predatory lending laws in the country, and together we have delivered to business a work force training program and nearly $70 million in real tax relief.

We’ve created a national model to protect the health of people serving in the National Guard.

And we’ve taken steps in advancing our goal toward universal health insurance coverage and an improved health care system.

DirigoChoice will have the option to become self-insured, a move that will give us the flexibility to improve the program and restrain the cost.

And we have made it possible for young adults to keep health insurance through their parents until they are 25 years old, a major expansion of coverage to an age group prone to go without.

Our success is the product of our ability to work together for the good of the people of Maine.

During the last days of this session, there has been a difficult debate around health care and tax reform.

On both issues, we still have work to do.

The Tax Committee this year undertook an enormous task, and its members have done it with great creativity and openness.

Working diligently for the entire session, the committee, and particularly its chairs John Piotti and Joe Perry, developed a reform plan that has moved the debate on taxes further than most people thought possible.

But this is a difficult and complicated issue with consequences for our entire economy and affecting every business and family in Maine. We have to make sure we get it right.

I am committed to working with Legislative leaders going forward to further advance tax reform and tax relief. My goal is to develop a plan, like our groundbreaking budget and bond package, that will gain broad support.

In consultation with the Legislature, experts and interests on all sides, we will examine the taxes Maine people and visitors pay, we will consider more ways to streamline government at all levels, and create further saving.

Our discussion must include both changing the tax code and reducing the burden.

We must make sure the spending caps that we have in place at the state, county and municipal level have the teeth to make them effective.

Tax code changes must be tied to spending changes.

Before January, I will develop a Governor’s bill to reduce the tax burden on Mainers, improve our tax laws and continue to restructure government and reduce administration at all levels, in all areas.

We will do more to take our case to the people, making sure that we bypass the special interests and engage the public interest.

I appreciate the work of the Taxation Committee. Its members have done a tremendous job. Their efforts and the efforts of many lawmakers who supported their work will be the foundation for discussions moving forward.

Like taxes, our work on health care is not complete. Although we took some big strides this session, health care reform still needs more attention.

My pledge is to work with you to achieve our goals of making Maine the healthiest state in the nation.

Our goal will be to increase the number of people who have health insurance and implement market reforms that will increase private-sector competition and help hold down insurance costs while expanding universal access.

If we continue to work together, I know we can do it.

The 123rd Legislature has delivered real results for Maine. Everybody in the state should be proud of what has been accomplished, knowing that more work needs to be done.

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End of Session

4th of July

June 30, 2007

Good day.

Last week, I had the great honor to attend the opening night ceremonies for Maine’s very first Festival of the Book.

It was an exciting night that kicked off a weekend of activities meant to connect accomplished writers with readers and to explore the work of some of Maine’s most notable authors.

The weekend Festival was created by the MaineReads organization and by my wife, the First Lady. They deserve credit for bringing together a program of great books, great people and great events.

On Friday night, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough read from his amazing biography of John Adams, one of our country’s most inspired and influential Founding Fathers.

McCullough’s portrait is built upon countless hours of research and an examination of what Adams wrote and what he read.

Through his pages, McCullough brings the Boston lawyer and scholar and political philosopher alive, sharing his inner-most thoughts, doubts and aspirations as recorded in his diaries and in the margins of the thousands of books from his personal library…and I mean thousands of books!

On Wednesday, we will celebrate the Fourth of July and the birth of our nation. It’s a good time to think about John Adams and his role as a revolutionary thinker, Founding Father and president.

It was on July 4th, 1776 that Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, forever changing the course of world events.

The text of that document means as much today as they did 231 years ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed.”

John Adams had earned his reputation as a lawyer traveling a circuit that included Maine, which was then part of Massachusetts, was among the authors, with Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin.

Harvard educated, frugal and self-aware, Adams was a leading voice in the birth of the United States of America. He nominated George Washington to be the head of the Continental Army, and later served as our new country’s second president.

And through his writings, we can see his influence on the political thought that guides our country to this day.

“Government is nothing more than the combined force of society, or the united power of the multitude, for the peace, order, safety, good and happiness of the people....There is no king or queen bee distinguished from all others, by size or figure or beauty and variety of colors, in the human hive. No man has yet produced any revelation from heaven in his favor, any divine communication to govern his fellow men. Nature throws us all into the world equal and alike.”

It is the ideal of equality and the notion that the authority of the government comes only from the people and should be used only for their benefit that continues to drive us today.

The United States remains a grand experiment, a nation built upon a dream and the efforts, ingenuity and sacrifice of generation upon generation of Americans, determined to live according to the ideals put to paper by men such as Adams, Jefferson and James Madison.

Today, as we face a difficult war and relentless additions to the list of heroes who have sacrificed in the name of our United States, I am reminded of Adams’ words to his friend, Jonathan Sewall, during a visit to Portland in 1774.

Sewall was a Tory and a defender of England, but nonetheless remained a close friend to Adams. As retold by McCullough in his book, during a visit to Maine, the two friends meet on a hill overlooking Casco Bay.

Both remained unshaken in their beliefs, be it on different sides of the struggle for independence.

“Swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish,” Adams said. “[I am] with my country … [and] You may depend upon it.”

If you talk to the men and women who bravely serve our country today, you will hear similar words.

Like Adams, who could hear the canons roar at Bunker Hill from his home and saw friends and colleagues die, our servicemen and women know firsthand exactly what it means to sacrifice for an idea.

We are lucky to have such men and women amongst us.

Happy Fourth of July.

God Bless Maine, and God Bless the United States of America.

Thank you.

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4th of July

Opportunity Maine

July 7, 2007

Good day.

During my six years as governor of Maine, I have signed a lot of important bills into law.

We’ve protected people from discrimination, balanced tough budgets, made some structural reforms in education and health care and invested in the state’s economy.

On Monday, I signed a special piece of legislation that will help college students and the state’s economy well into the future. It’s called Opportunity Maine.

The bill was brought to the Legislature by a dedicated group of young people – many of them recent college graduates – determined to make Maine more hospitable for students by addressing the problem of college debt.

More than 500 volunteers worked statewide to gather more than 60,000 signatures. The bill was destined for the ballot.

But a bipartisan group of state lawmakers took up the cause and helped pass the bill. But they didn’t just pass the bill, they passed it with overwhelming support in both the House and Senate. As a matter of fact, it was unanimous in the House, of all the republicans and all the democrats. And in the Senate it was 27-8, sending it to my desk for signature.

I was very proud to sign it.

Opportunity Maine is a prime example of the innovation and commitment that young people have to the state of Maine.

Mainers love this state and want to stay here after graduation. That’s what this bill is all about.

I was pleased 2 weeks ago to tell the participants of Girls and Boys State – those are juniors throughout the State of Maine in high school - that I was going to sign that legislation.

Because I wanted them to know, when I looked out and saw them among the most promising faces in our state to let them know that we in the state capital care about them, and that we want them to stay here in Maine.

They are our future leaders, and we can’t afford to lose them.

I believe in this legislation, and I know that it’s a key to opening up opportunity for Maine’s students.

My parents raised eight of us, and they made it clear the importance of education and higher education. Making sure that we had the chance for an education was one of the ways they took care of us. They instilled the idea of getting an education is one of the foundations where we could then put out our shingle, be able to determine our own prosperity, and realize our real opportunities here for ourselves and our families.

This legislation gives us the tools to offer more to our young people - a fresh start right here at home.

Because we don’t believe that earning a degree should force any graduate out of state in order to pay off their student loans.

We don’t want our graduates to be debt-ridden because they make the choice to stay here in Maine after graduation.

For four years, my administration has worked hard and maintained tight budgets, reformed and restructured the administration of administration of education and health care. Now that’s beginning to pay off, and we can put more resources into where they need to go in terms of tax relief, especially property tax relief, and higher education opportunities for all of our citizens.

This is about our generation rolling up our sleeves and laying the foundation for the next generation.

We’re telling our students: If you live, work and pay taxes in Maine, you’re not going to have this student debt hanging around your neck.

Additionally, this legislation helps Maine businesses because it provides for them a well-educated work force.

We will keep more of our home-grown graduates here, and attract more back to the state.

This legislation is a big deal. It’s going to require us to invest significant resources in the future, but we’ll be spending that money on the right thing.

Nobody gets this tax credit unless they’re living and working and paying taxes in Maine. For that, we have a wise investment in our children, in our future and in our state’s economic future, and I believe it will pay huge dividends.

Thank you very much.

Related Documents

Opportunity Maine

Mount Katahdin

July 14, 2007

Good day.

This week, I had the opportunity to do something I have never done before, and something that no other Governor has done since Ken Curtis did it over 30 years ago.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I climbed Mount Katahdin with my son, Jack, and a group of other hikers that included some of the state’s most thoughtful conservation thinkers, old friends and new friends.

After a brisk 3.3 mile hike to Chimney Pond Tuesday night, we continued to the top of Maine’s highest mountain on Wednesday.

It was a challenging climb both on the way up and, in some ways, even more-so on the way down.

We set out at about 6:15 in the morning to climb the Saddle Trail. We had some tremendous viewpoints on the way up the mountain, looking down on Chimney Pond and miles upon miles of conserved land from thousands of feet in the air. The most spectacular view was with the sun shining on the pond, as a star in the night of a cloudy, damp day. And, as we climbed higher, it quickly turned to more fog and rain.

But none-the-less, from the peak of Saddle Slide, which is about a mile before the summit, the views were still spectacular.

Standing on the top of the mountain I understood Gov. Baxter’s passion for creating and preserving the state park that today bears his name.

Something else that impressed me on the way up was the people we ran into. Young couples, parents with children, fathers, sons, mothers and daughters – people from Blue Hill, Deer Isle, Auburn, Portland and Millinocket – and all there to make memories and see what Governor Baxter saw so many years ago.

It occurred to me that many of the memories that are made on a trip like ours with your family and friends easily outlast the sore muscles and bad backs, and it’s the people that are remembered even as the views grow fuzzy in the mind.

I’ll never forget talking with our group after the hike to Chimney Pond as we stared up at Mount Katahdin in the bright sunlight of that basin, and how pristine and preserved it was, as if we were the first people to ever see it.

I won’t forget as Park Director, Jensen Bissell, and his very capable staff shared with us stories of this year. Especially when a hiker was lost and how patient his staff was in guiding her to safety. Even though it was a short distance away, it took over eight hours to get there and they never lost patience.

And while I’ll never forget the feeling I got when I saw the sign on top of “Katahdin Peak” 5,267 feet, I will also never forget the people who did it with me. Those memories will endure.

Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin are magical. They’ve drawn countless visitors and their natural beauty is awe-inspiring.

I have said this before, but it’s worth repeating: Our greatest duty is to prepare our children for the world they will face and protect the natural resources that they will inherit.

Each year, thousands of people are drawn to Maine because we’ve remained diligent to those qualities that set us apart.

Last year, the state worked with private donors and outdoor enthusiasts to add Katahdin Lake to Baxter State Park. The lake was always part of Gov. Baxter’s original vision, but it took more than 40 years to fulfill his vision, and it’s done.

During my time in office, we have also worked hard to preserve Maine’s special connection to the environment because we in Maine value clean air and clean water, and we’ve made investments to protect them.

In Maine growing our economy means protecting our quality of life and natural resources. It’s the legacy we owe our children and grandchildren.

Climate change is real, and its impacts will be drastic, the effects will reach into every part of our economy, changing our forestry, farming and fishing, and our recreational tourism forever.

As bad as it could be, by taking action now we can make a difference. We still have time to change.

Here in Maine, we’ve been leaders in fighting global warming and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year, the Legislature enacted my bill to formalize Maine’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It’s the first cap-and-trade program to regulate and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the country and a model for other regions to follow.

You don’t have to climb Mount Katahdin or make your living from the sea or the woods to understand how interconnected Maine is to the environment. It’s clear in every part of the state.

From our revitalized riverfront communities to our agricultural fields and pristine lakes, Maine’s future is tied to the land we walk upon, the water we drink and the air we breathe.

Thank you.

Related Documents

Mount Katahdin

National Governor's Association

July 21, 2007

Good day.

This weekend I will be traveling to Michigan to participate in the annual meeting of the National Governors Association.

The conference is an opportunity to represent Maine and talk about our successes. It’s also an opportunity to tell Maine’s story to some of the leading businesses in the country, and to share ideas and strategies with other governors – and learn from them what they are doing and their successes as well as what they have been working on and what has not been working well for them.

There will be sessions about promoting innovation in the economy, addressing climate change, modernizing education and improving health care.

In each of these areas, Maine has made significant progress. Just this year, the Legislature passed an investment package that will support research and development, higher education, job creation, better roads and bridges and will protect our environment.

We’ve confirmed our position as an environmental leader by banning harmful toxins in consumer goods and taking concrete steps to reduce the release of pollution that causes global warming.

And we did something other states have been unable to accomplish: We restructured K-12 administration to make it more efficient and more modern, all the while investing more than $800 million new dollars over four years into local public education, finally bringing about some real property tax relief for communities.

It’s a record we should be proud of.

I know that health care will be a hot topic at the National Governors Association meeting.

Last week, we celebrated a long list of health care bills that we enacted this year.

We have accomplished a lot in that area.

We did it by strengthening Dirigo Health Reform, our plan to provide universal access to health insurance to all Mainers. While a number of states have turned their attention to it, it was Maine that started the ball rolling with Dirigo.

And we remain on the leading edge of the health care debate. While other states are working against entrenched interests to get their plans off the ground, Maine is actually insuring about 20,000 people – small businesses, self-employed people - through Dirigo.

And while our plan is controversial here at home, it has received accolades around the country from other states and impartial observers like the John F. Kennedy School of Government as an innovation leader.

With legislation passed this year, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance policy until they turn 26 years old. Young adults are one of the hardest groups to reach with health insurance. They are just starting out and money tends to be tight, and too many of them don’t think about getting sick or getting hurt.

But it can happen, and this law will make sure some of them have the protection against those catastrophes.

Other legislation addresses consumer protection issues such as making more information about prescription drugs available, and their costs;

Expanding coverage for cancer screenings;

Calls for reviews to expand access to dental care and assistance to those with debilitating diseases such as eating disorders and mental health issues;

While state leaders will be meeting and trading recipes on how to make their homes economically stronger, healthier and smarter, there’s a debate going on in Washington that’s going to receive a fair amount of attention during our conference.

Congress and the president are debating the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-CHIP for short. The question is whether to expand the program to cover more kids.

In our state, this program has received overwhelming bipartisan support. It’s bipartisanly supported by our Congressional Delegation in Washington, and it covers about 15,000 kids in our state, all of them from families with income less than 200 percent of federal poverty.

In Maine we’re talking about middle income, middle class working families.

Despite its success, there are thousands of Maine kids who don’t have insurance.

Making sure every child in Maine can see a doctor shouldn’t be a question of ideology or political philosophy.

It’s a question about our responsibility as a community as the richest country on Earth. We have a moral obligation to take care of our children, and for me that’s where the debate ends.

You can be sure that this weekend, I’ll be telling Maine’s story, I’ll be taking notes on ideas and suggestions that other Governors have and what they’ve been able to experience – both successes and some more challenging circumstances. And I’ll be advocating for programs like S-CHIP and also about innovation and economic development, making sure that Maine is moving with the rest of the nation and the nation is moving in this global economy to make sure Maine children and Maine families aren’t left behind.

Thank you.

Related Documents

National Governor's Association

Regionalization

July 28, 2007

Good day.

Last weekend, I traveled to Michigan for a meeting of the National Governors Association.

Governors from all over the country came together for a weekend of hard work and exchanging ideas.

It’s easy to think about Maine as standing alone against the challenges of a changing economy and global competition. But as I talked with other governors, the message that came through time and again was that many of the problems states face are the same. We’re all part of this national economy, good, bad, or indifferent. We, ourselves, cannot change the world, but we recognize that we, working together, can make a difference.

We’ve all lost manufacturing jobs, natural resource-based industries are beset everywhere by foreign competition, cheap labor, a disregard for the environment, whether they’re in Maine, Wisconsin or Michigan.

Old-line industries, like automaking, that once provided good jobs and benefits to thousands of middle-class families are being lost.

And every state is looking to stretch resources further, to provide better services while holding back on government growth.

While Maine has some unique assets and a few unique problems, we are not alone in the things we are trying to do or the problems we are trying to solve.

One of the great lessons for me of this year’s conference is that there is great opportunity for states that can put aside competition, work together for regional solutions to big problems.

We’re already starting in the Northeast with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This brought states in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic together to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.

It’s a cooperative effort that we believe will become a national model for how to manage air pollution by helping industry, stabilizing electric rates and taking care of reducing air pollution.

But this is just a beginning.

We have much to gain from cooperating with our neighbors.

During the NGA meeting, I spoke with the Governor Douglas of Vermont and it seemed clear to me that the old rivalries between neighbors no longer work.

Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont must work together on issues ranging from passenger rail to economic development to environmental protection. If we want to capitalize on our full potential, we must do it by working together.

Alone, we are relatively small, rural states, but together, we have an opportunity to build employment clusters that take advantage of all of our strengths.

Northern New England is a great place to live and work. By working with our neighbors, we can create the critical mass needed to draw new businesses and jobs to the region.

A recent national report reinforces this by saying that we can stem the out-migration of jobs to India and China by working together in rural America and northern New England is just the place.

Geography is not the only criteria that we should consider when looking for partners.

The University of Maine is doing groundbreaking research on the production of ethanol from wood. This technology holds the promise to revitalize our wood products industry, take advantage of one of our great natural resources and to make Maine and the nation more energy independent.

Now we are not the only state working on ethanol. Iowa, for example, is committed to creating alternative fuels from corn. We have a chance to work together with them to speed advances that will benefit both of our states.

Over the weekend, I spoke with Iowa Governor Culver and Colorado Governor Ritter, and we believe that together our states have a better chance of a major break through than we do working separately.

Energy security, reliable electricity rates and the development of cleaner-burning fuels are vital to our country’s economic and environmental health. We have much to learn from one another and much to share.

In addition to talking with one another, governors also heard from representatives of some of the country’s leading companies.

What they told us cuts against the grain of much more popular rhetoric. Tax rates, they said, are important, but not more important than regulatory stability and speed. Faster decision making.

In Maine, we are working to drive down the taxes on our citizens and businesses, but we also need to look at ways that we work, and try to make it easier for businesses and entrepreneurs to deal with state government.

That doesn’t mean that we are going to sacrifice clean air and clean water or loosen the regulations that protect public health and safety. But it does mean that we are going to work to simplify the process for businesses seeking permits.

We are going to modernize our codes and rules, and work to cut the amount of time it takes to get a new project going.

Maine is leading the country in health care and education, environmental stewardship. Other states look to us as a model to follow.

But it’s a two-way street. We have much we can learn from other places.

I intend to build upon my experience working with other governors to open new doors for Maine workers, businesses and researchers.

We’re going to reach out and reach up. There’s great opportunity waiting for all of us.

Thank you.

Related Documents

Regionalization

Domtar

August 4, 2007

When faced with difficult news, there are really just two ways that a person can react.

You can passively accept what you’re hearing and try to move on.

Or you can move aggressively to make things better.

When Domtar Corporation announced this week that it was permanently closing part of its operation in Baileyville, I was disappointed and concerned for the community and the workers affected.

I’ve seen this before in Maine, and each time it rips at my heart. Maine’s paper industry is in transition, and the changing nature of global competition has hurt some of older mills.

I hear from people all the time who say that there’s no future in the paper industry in Maine. They have given up hope on one of the state’s most important industrial sectors and look for excuses or someone to blame.

My administration has never lost faith in Maine’s ability to compete and to be successful.

It’s hard to hear about another mill – another community – going through this struggle, but we know from experience that both can come through to the other side.

Look at Lincoln, Millinocket and Old Town.

When the mill in Lincoln declared bankruptcy, I had to send in the state police to keep the opportunities for redevelopment from being wasted.

We saved that mill by being aggressive, and now 400 people are working and a there’s a $21 million payroll.

In Millinocket, two mills were on the verge. Now they are back, and 700 people have good jobs.

And in Old Town, Georgia Pacific turned its back on Maine and allowed its mill to collapse. We worked for eight months, partnering with the University of Maine and local and federal officials, and we found a new owner – and new hope.

200 workers are back on the job, and more will be coming.

For the Woodland mill in Baileyville, the news was not nearly as bad as it was in Old Town. While 150 jobs will be lost, more than 300 jobs remain, and the mill will continue to make pulp.

The shutdown of the paper machine in Baileyville was one of just four announcements made by Domtar this week. The company also closed two facilities in Canada and another paper machine in Port Edwards, Wisconsin.

I have spoken to the Domtar’s CEO and other senior officials. They have assured me that they see a future for their pulp operation in Baileyville and intend to invest millions in upgrading the operation.

That’s good news.

But we will also take what we have learned from other mills and put it to work to secure Woodland’s future.

Maine has been aggressive in taking steps that have kept Domtar’s pulp operation competitive. Our forest certification program helps the company to better market its products worldwide.

The certification program gives the “green” seal of approval to Domtar. It guarantees that the wood being used to produce pulp is harvested in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.

Sustainable forest management is the hook that gives Maine companies an advantage in the global marketplace, and we need to expand participation and increase the number of acres covered. That’s one way to protect the forest product industries – and jobs -- in Maine.

Maine has also partnered with the University System to develop new technology that makes it possible to produce ethanol as part of the pulp-making process.

The process holds great promise to make Maine pulp operations more profitable while also creating an alternative source of fuel. That technology can be put to work at pulp mills around the state, including the one in Baileyville.

The work being done at the University is the kind of innovation that will drive this state’s economy into the future. It will help modernize our old industries and help to fight global warming and make our state and country more energy secure.

That’s the future of the paper industry in Maine. And I believe it can still be bright.

At the same time, we haven’t forgotten about the people – the families who will be hurt by Domtar’s decision. We are there for them.

The Maine Department of Labor will work with every affected worker. We will make sure they have the help they need to get by in the short-term, and the opportunities and training for the long-term.

These men and women are our friends and neighbors, and we will not forget them. This is a tough time, but they will not go through it alone.

We face an imperative in Maine. We must innovate, dedicate ourselves to making smart investments in technology and infrastructure, and educate our people so they are prepared for a future that rewards the highly skilled and well-trained.

If we do this – and we must – then our old industries will be reborn alongside promising new ones.

Related Documents

Domtar

Take It Outside

August 11, 2007

We can start today to make a difference in the lives of our children.

For those of us who serve in office, we often think about the big things that need to be done.

We work to build a strong, efficient and effective education system, to make schools better and make sure teachers have the resources they need.

We try to reduce pollution and preserve Maine’s special places.

And we try to make sure every child in the state has access to quality health care.

But when it comes to taking care of our children – and ourselves – there are more basic, simple things that we can do to make a difference.

Earlier this month, I kicked off a new initiative called “Take It Outside.”

It’s a simple message: Kids are healthier and happier when they are exposed to the wonders of nature.

Too often, we are losing our connection to the outside world.

Not long ago, I hiked Maine’s tallest peak, Mt. Katahdin.

I climbed the mountain with my son, Jack, and a group of friends.

It was an unforgettable trip – I will always remember the view looking up at the peak from Chimney Pond – and the view looking down at Chimney Pond as we approached the summit.

The memories will last forever, and the experience renewed my commitment to work hard at preserving what makes Maine special.

I have said this before, but it’s worth repeating: Our greatest duty is to prepare our children for the world they will face and protect the natural resources that they will inherit.

Atop Katahdin, there’s no doubting the importance of protecting those places that make Maine special.

Each year, thousands of people are drawn to Maine because we have remained diligent to those qualities that set us apart.

During my time in office, we have worked hard to preserve Maine’s special connection to the environment. We value clean air, clean water and open spaces, and have made investments to protect them.

That’s one of the reasons why Outside Magazine in its August issue named Portland its Best Town on the East Coast. The magazine had tough criteria: The towns have to combine “stunning natural beauty,” an active social scene, affordable housing and a good work job market.

“We tried to look for a mix of fantasy and reality,” Outside’s Editor Charles Keyes told the Reuters News Service.

“We wanted towns that had a great outdoor lifestyle but still were realistic places where you can live and work,” he continued.

For Maine, growing our economy means protecting our quality of life and natural resources. It’s the legacy we owe our children and grandchildren.

Maine has always had a special connection to the natural world: our traditional industries, fishing, farming and forestry, all require an understanding of nature.

Sharing Maine’s special places has been a key component of our economy and way of life.

Sporting camps, guides, summer camps and outfitters all profit by sharing that knowledge.

Yet in Maine, as elsewhere, young people are increasingly disconnected from nature.

Richard Louv (pronounced LOOV) drew attention to the issue with his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder.

We know he’s right.

Sadly, in Maine as elsewhere, the number of overweight children is on the rise.

It’s easy to blame television and video games.

But we should also look at ourselves, and ask whether we could be doing more.

After all, children learn a sense of what’s important from the important adults in their lives — parents, grandparents, teachers and neighbors.

Are we taking our kids to parks?

Are we playing outdoors with them?

Are we introducing them to the joy and wonder of our natural world?

Are we doing everything we can to connect children with nature?

I have directed state agencies to evaluate their programs, rules and policies with respect to the role they play in encouraging Maine people, especially young people, to experience and appreciate the natural world.

I’d like to know whether our transportation, education and health policies are working to get children outside, or are they, inadvertently, contributing to keeping them indoors?

This is an issue for all of us.

We want to work with the best minds, including those organizations, like Chewonki and the Maine Conservation School, that are already doing a great job getting kids outside and connected to nature.

Next spring we will hold a Blaine House Conference on Youth and the Natural World.

I look forward to receiving the findings from our state agencies and incorporating them into our planning.

In the meantime, the weather is warm and there’s plenty of time for swimming, canoeing, hiking, biking, and enjoying summertime in Maine.

Get outside, have fun, and enjoy Maine’s natural beauty while living a healthy, active lifestyle!

You can do it today. Don’t wait. Get outside and enjoy what Maine has to offer.

Related Documents

Take it Outside

Joint Task Force

August 18, 2007

Cooperation, team work and coming together for a common cause have always been Maine trademarks.

During natural disasters, emergencies and hard times, Mainers are always quick to offer a helping hand to their neighbors across the street, across town or around the state.

This summer, it’s happening again.

Late in July, we learned that Domtar would be closing its paper machine in Baileyville and reducing its work force by about 150 people in Washington County.

It was difficult news to hear, but my office and the offices of our state’s congressional delegation acted swiftly.

We put people on the ground in Washington County almost immediately to help the workers who had lost their jobs, and we held meetings on-site to discuss our approach to economic development in the region.

This week, through the cooperative efforts with Sen. Olympia Snowe, Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. Mike Michaud and Rep. Tom Allen, we have formed a state-federal task force to take a broader look at what can be done to speed Washington County’s recovery from the Domtar decision and to help find new jobs for displaced workers.

I had a long talk with Sen. Snowe about this task force Tuesday night and about the need for action. We are of one mind.

It’s absolutely necessary that the state and federal government, working with private industry and local communities, take a collaborative, unified approach to the problems that face Domtar’s former workers and their communities.

The issues are many.

Whether we’re talking about securing federal assistance to workers based on unfair trade practices, moving quickly to approve new businesses looking to relocate in Washington County or protecting existing industries, our efforts are most effective when we work together.

Going as far back as I can remember, Maine’s Congressional Delegation has worked well with the Governor’s Office and with each other when it comes to taking care of our home state.

The differences that divide the political parties fade away when the subject is jobs.

When the Pentagon took aim at Maine’s military bases, the Congressional Delegation came together with my administration to protect national security, our state economy and our work force.

We will apply that same level of determination to Domtar and Washington County.

While about 150 jobs were lost, Domtar’s pulp-making operation will continue in Baileyville. We must make sure that we do what we can to safeguard the facility, and help it grow.

Domtar still employs more than 300 people in Baileyville, and the company has told me and others that future investments there are possible.

Washington County faces a number of economic challenges, but it also has significant assets.

The Port of Eastport provides Domtar – and potentially other industries – reliable access to national and international markets.

Workers in Washington County are some of the best anywhere. They’re highly skilled and well-trained, and with a little help they can make other companies in the region successful.

And Downeast remains one of the most beautiful and relatively undiscovered gems in Maine’s tourism economy.

Maine’s Department of Labor and Department of Economic and Community Development have sent rapid response teams to Baileyville and Washington County to help displaced workers with job placement and retraining.

In addition, the Department of Labor has been working with Maine’s Congressional Delegation to receive Trade Adjustment Assistance, which helps workers get back on their feet and back to work.

We owe our workers this support. They have spent their professional lives helping to build a prosperous business and a strong community. Now we need to make sure they have the support to move on to new opportunities.

Time and again, Mainers rally to help one another. We’re doing it again.

There are political issues that divide us. We’re not always going to agree, but when it comes to taking care of our neighbors we are all on the same team.

The new federal and state task force will bring together people at every level of government and from the community to work collaboratively and move Washington County forward. Through the combined efforts and energies of this task force, we will do everything possible to bring new jobs and a new hope to Baileyville and Washington County.

At the end of the day, our common goal is to help the workers who have lost their jobs and their families, and to make sure the region can meet its full potential.

Related Documents

Joint Task Force

Energy

August 25, 2007

Good day.

Today in Maine and across the United States, the cost of energy continues to hold back our economy. High gas prices make it hard for people to get to work and expensive for businesses to ship their products to their customers.

High heating oil prices leave many Mainers with difficult winter choices: Turning on the heat or going without other necessities.

And high electricity rates drive up the cost of doing business and force families to stretch their dollars even further.

High energy costs today are caused by electricity deregulation that hasn’t worked out as it was promised, federally imposed fees that do little to help Maine and a national energy policy designed more to protect the interests of big oil rather than the public interest.

We know that high energy prices hurt poor families the most, and make it difficult for business to add new jobs and protect the jobs that they have. A dollar spent unnecessarily on electricity is a dollar that can’t be invested in new technologies or new products.

This week, the Maine Public Utilities Commission, with my support, appealed a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that places a 6 percent surcharge on residential electric bills in Maine and a 10 percent surcharge on businesses here in Maine.

It’ll cost Mainer’s more than $300 million over the next four years.

For such a big price tag, you might think Maine is getting something of value.

Well, we’re not.

Instead, Mainer’s are suffering while energy companies receive huge windfalls.

Consider Huhtamaki. It’s a chinette plant in Waterville – over 400 people work there. I visited them this week to discuss the cost of electricity.

This unfair fee is already costing the company $65,000 a month.

The costs aren’t limited to the private sector. MSAD 47 in Oakland is spending an additional $22,000 a year because of the fee. That money comes straight out of your pockets in property tax dollars.

Maine can’t solve the country’s energy problems on its own, but we know we have the resources and wherewithal to improve our own situation.

My administration is aggressively pursuing new cooperation with New Brunswick that holds the promise of more stable energy markets and prices.

We are also supporting the development of alternative sources of energy, like wind power and bio-fuels, that could turn Maine into a real energy leader.

As an example, we’ve been working with the University of Maine, and Red Shield in Old Town on cutting-edge technology that allows ethanol to be produced during the pulp-making process.

Not only does it hold out great promise for cleaner-burning gasoline and energy independence, but the process has the potential to reinvigorate Maine’s paper industry.

Earlier this week, I kicked off a great program that will help families improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

It’s called “How Does Your Home Perform?” and there’s a link off the State of Maine Web site. The program helps families make their homes healthier, more comfortable, more energy efficient.

We bring contractors who are certified and trained together with homeowners, and make sure the work is high quality. Low-cost loans are also available so families can turn opportunity into action.

The loans range from 1% - 3%.

We’ve set achievable goals on renewable energy, we’ve established tax credits for the production of alternative fuels – so Maine is leading the way with our energy policies, but we need to do more.

Maine has been hurt by these high energy prices, but there is a plan, there is action, and we need to work together.

Our people are creative and motivated and are working on these new technologies and these new investments we need to break free from the strangle-hold of energy uncertainty.

We will continue to invest through the university in R&D innovation. We will pursue new relationships with our neighbors to the north and better deals for our people. And, when necessary, we will take our fight to court to stop punitive and unfair federal decisions that could hurt Maine families and businesses.

Thank you all and have a nice weekend.

Related Documents

Energy

Back to School

September 1, 2007

Happy Labor Day Weekend.

Labor Day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers – and it gives many of us a day off, to leave behind the hustle and bustle of our jobs.

It’s the start of the football season and the beginning of an exciting 4-week finish to the baseball season, as the Red Sox hopefully enter into the playoffs.

And, for children, their families, educators and administrators, it means school is back in session.

This year, we are working on major changes in the administration of K-12 education.

This past June, the Legislature approved a plan to consolidate the school administrative units in an effort to reduce property tax burdens, put more resources into teachers and classrooms and less into Administration overhead.

The plan calls for no more than 80 districts, down from 152.

Since passing the law, meetings have been taking place among existing school units, all tasked with creating new partnerships between communities that will better serve our students and taxpayers.

Friday was an important day in this process – it was the deadline for communities to submit their initial reports on consolidation efforts to the state officials.

Early feedback I am receiving is that most communities are working cooperatively with neighboring districts and developing innovative and exciting ideas for the future.

I am also hearing about a few districts that seem to prefer the status quo - using inaccurate data to say that savings will not be achieved.

The status quo for most districts is not an option.

Why?

Just look at your property tax bill – it continues to increase despite the state now funding 55% of local education.

We’ve now committed $800 million NEW dollars over the last four years – money that should have been used for tax relief, or invested back into schools.

Instead, property taxes are still rising, not enough of the new money is making it to the teachers and the classroom and education costs have continued to increase, despite enrollment in public schools dropping by 43,000 students over the last 30 years.

Ironically, in the same time period, we have gained in Administration. We are now spending $2,000 more per pupil than the national average for administration of education.

That’s why my plan will put more money into the classrooms, where it belongs.

We can’t live in the past and rely on an infrastructure that worked 50 years ago.

The state has already undertaken an effort to streamline state government and eliminate Administration.

We’ve merged Information Technology, Human Resources, payroll and accounting functions across all state departments to save over $11 million in all funds and improve accountability across state government.

We’ve reduced state spending in Health & Human Services by $130 million by streamlining Administration and better managing the care of managed care services.

But we realize that more needs to be done. Maine is a big state with a small population.

Maine cannot afford the amount of Administration we have. We must be more efficient and more focused.

We have chosen to consolidate from 152 districts to 80 to provide property tax relief, while increasing excellence in our education system.

We’re now requiring four years of math and science. We are trying to make sure that everybody has the access for higher education.

Now, we’re going to continue to work together with school districts, superintendents and other educators on this plan.

The next deadline is December 1st, when final organizational plans are due. If you have ideas or input, I encourage you to speak with your town officials.

In the meantime, there is more work to do finding savings across the board.

The Legislature has set up an online suggestion box at Maine-dot-gov for you to submit ideas for savings.

I have personally gone over those suggestions, and I have really found some of them to be very helpful. I am hoping that we continue to have your input and suggestions, and at the same time to be able to share with you information about what already has been done.

As I talk to people about the steps of eliminating a human resource and budget people, and IT people in each of the state departments, they were unfamiliar with those changes, saving $11 million over the biennium with that action alone.

There are many other areas that we have worked hard to economize and stretch dollars. At the same time, there are many more areas that we need to continue to look at and demand from the departments and agencies better quality services and being able to do it with fewer tax resources, allowing our citizens the tax relief and opportunities to be able to provide for themselves and their families.

So, I ask you to work together as we position Maine to take advantage of the 21st Century.

Thank you – and have a great Labor Day Weekend.

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SCHIP

September 8, 2007

Good day.

Health care is a basic human right, and universal health insurance coverage is my goal for every man, woman and child in Maine.

This is a great challenge. Health care is an issue so important and complicated that to truly provide universal insurance, a national solution is needed.

But as we just learned in the latest Census data released last month, the rate of the uninsured in the nation has climbed, this includes more children who are without health insurance.

Absent a national solution, with health care costs continuing to climb, states have had to go it alone. But Maine has led the way.

In the latest Census data, Maine tied for first in the nation in health insurance coverage.

Through Dirigo Health Reforms, we are addressing underlying costs in the health care system while working to improve the quality of care and providing more insurance options in the health care marketplace.

We announced this week that DirigoChoice will now be offered through Harvard Pilgrim, a nonprofit insurance company. This new partnership is a better financial arrangement for Dirigo and helps bring competition back to the health insurance marketplace in Maine.

We have expanded coverage through Medicaid and through innovative efforts that ensure people don’t go without the health care they need, but that they get it by better managing and tightening the controls in the Medicaid program.

Also, in the recent State Legislative session, we achieved legislation to require insurers and allow employers to extend a child’s insurance coverage on a parent’s plan until the age of 25, regardless of whether or not the child is in school.

Much of our success in keeping our rate of uninsured low has been through the use of the tool known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan.

I was very pleased to be part of its creation at the federal-state partnership, being established in 1997. I was in my second term as a 2nd District Congressman from Maine.

This program has lived up to its promise. It is a unique program providing states with precious funding, and with the flexibility to craft their own effective programs.

Maine’s program is one of the most successful in the country.

In fact, 93% of children in Maine have health insurance. Even when talking about the hardest group of kids to insure – the poor and near-poor, children of working families – the very group designed for Children’s Health Insurance to cover – Maine’s has reached a successful coverage rate of 88%.

More than 13,000 Maine children have health care because of this program.

But now, Maine and other states’ good faith efforts to extend affordable insurance to children are being threatened.

As I expressed in a letter to President Bush almost a year ago, pulling back coverage to our children is unacceptable.

Funding for this program is one of the best investments we can make to ensure that our children grow and develop healthy, reduce chronic disease instances and costs, and attend school better equipped to learn.

Simply put, future success of Maine’s efforts to provide quality affordable health care to Maine children depends on the federal government continuing to meet its responsibility to this program.

Luckily, Congress is moving in to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program in a way that keeps the promise made ten years ago.

Both the current House and Senate versions of the reauthorization would enable Maine to continue the health insurance program for children.

Both bills would give Maine and other states the tools to expand that coverage.

I want to extend my thanks to our Congressional Delegation: to Senator Snowe and Senator Collins; Congressman Allen and Congressman Michaud – for their strong support of Children’s Health Insurance Programs.

Their voices have been loud and clear through this debate.

Working with my Administration and other governors, they have rejected the White House’s attempts to curtail insurance to low and moderate income families.

Along with our Delegation in Washington, D.C., Children’s Health Insurance Programs has strong support in Maine from the Maine Legislature, the Maine Children's Alliance, Maine Equal Justice Partners, Maine hospitals, Maine physicians, among many others in the State of Maine, because they all know there’s nothing more important than protecting the health and welfare of the children of the State of Maine.

Thank you very much and have a good weekend.

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Jails

September 15, 2007

Earlier this year, Maine was on the verge of crisis in our prisons and jails.

Prisoners were left sleeping on the floors, guards were stretched to their breaking points and the Legislature was left struggling for answers.

Through the hard work of the Appropriations Committee and Criminal Justice committee, working with my administration and Commissioner Marty Magnusson, we were able to develop a short-term solution that protects our dedicated corrections officers and the inmates they oversee.

But the fix was temporary and the problems of an overcrowded and outdated system persist.

They demand immediate action.

I have a plan that will save taxpayers – property taxpayers - millions of dollars, that will relieve pressure on property taxes and keep the state from wasting money on new prisons and jails we don’t need.

As it stands today, we have 16 separate corrections systems, all operating in one State of Maine.

The current system is inefficient and unsustainable. People are getting hurt, they aren’t receiving the care they need, and when they do receive it, it’s too expensive, and that burden falls directly onto the back of property taxpayers.

The system must change.

My plan will unify 15 separate county jails with the state Department of Corrections, to create a single statewide system.

It will save money. It will take better care of prisoners. And will make our communities safer and more secure.

Over the last three years, the cost for counties to operate their jails has increased about 12 percent per year. During that same time, the cost to operate the state prison system has increased about 6 percent per year.

By creating a unified system, we can reduce the overall costs for housing prisoners by $10 million in the first year alone. By 2015, annual savings will grow to almost $38 million.

So without a unified system, at least four counties and the state will be forced into borrowing millions of dollars to build new facilities. With my plan, that’s not necessary.

It cost property taxpayers $66 million in 2006 and an estimated $71 million in 2007 to support county jail operations. If nothing is done, it will balloon to $148 million – property tax dollars - by 2013

It’s too much. We can do better.

My plan will create at least one specialty program – and perhaps two – that would treat prisoners with mental health issues. Currently, as you’ve read in the newspapers, there is limited ability to treat psychiatric patients within either the prison or jail systems. The unified system will also benefit from reduced administrative overhead, improved purchasing power and increased flexibility.

While constraining costs and relieving the pressure on property taxpayers is a high priority, our plan will also lead to better outcomes for the prisoners. We can’t continue to have prisoners sleeping on floors, and allow mental illness and substance abuse to go untreated.

These men and women are in our custody, and we are responsible for their welfare. We can’t wait for another crisis that puts the lives of guards and prisoners in jeopardy.

This isn’t a new idea. We have been talking about solutions to overcrowding and treatment problems in jails and prisons since at least the 1990s. I have a report from the 1997 Privatization Task Force that recommends a single statewide correctional system. Other states, including our neighbor Vermont, have already gone down this path with good results. It’s the right choice for Maine, too.

I know it’s difficult. I know it’s hard to change. But we cannot continue to burden our taxpayers and have a system that really is dysfunctional.

I understand that there are a lot of questions out there and that there are some sheriffs and county commissioners that are upset that they might lose some of their authority. But we all have to put the interest of the state – and our citizens and the common good – above our personal ambitions.

And I want the workers in the corrections field to know that they are important and they are valued and we certainly appreciate their service and want to continue to work with them.

My plan would freeze the current county assessment for jails.

The state will take over responsibility for all future growth in costs, which would protect those property taxpayers from double-digit increases in jail spending and the debt which would have been required to build new county jails.

That’s what this plan offers -- A guarantee that property taxes won’t go up to pay for county jails in the future.

Before I put my plan forward, you weren’t likely to hear too many good things about county jails. They were usually talked about as a financial liability.

They drive up property taxes, they’re difficult to operate and they’re expensive. For most counties, the jail is the single biggest budget item.

A single, unified system gives people a break on their property taxes – and they need it.

So, I am committed to putting this plan forward. We know we have a solution. And we know we must muster the political will to take action. There are no alternatives. We must move forward.

Thank you and good day.

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Dirigo

September 22, 2007

Good morning.

If you are following national politics, one of the big news stories this week is that Sen. Hillary Clinton has issued her plan to provide universal coverage for all Americans.

With release of her plans this week, she joins Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards, who have also released detailed proposals for universal coverage.

Added to the mix is the work that’s being done in California by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the work that was done to establish universal health care in Massachusetts by former Gov. Mitt Romney.

In Maine, we recognized the importance of universal health insurance about four years ago when the Legislature supported Dirigo Health Reform with a large, bipartisan majority.

Since then, a lot has happened in Maine and in the United States. While most states have seen the number of people without insurance creeping up, Maine has been able to hold the line.

According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census, Maine is tied for first in the nation for making sure our people have health care coverage.

Dirigo Health Reform isn’t perfect, and it surely attracted its share of detractors, many of them motivated by little more than ideological zeal.

In other cases, there are legitimate differences of opinion. Three years ago, Maine partnered with Anthem, the state’s largest insurance company, to create DirigoChoice insurance product.

DirigoChoice is a private health insurance plan that’s part of a larger Dirigo Health Reform effort. It makes quality health insurance more affordable for businesses and individuals and has subsidies available for people who need a little financial help.

The insurance plan has been a modest success. Thousands of people have insurance today who would not have it without DirigoChoice, and thousands of others have used the plan to help bridge gaps in their coverage.

Recently, the state had to look for alternatives.

Harvard Pilgrim, a nonprofit health insurance company that is consistently ranked among the best in the country by its clients, has agreed that Dirigo is an attractive business opportunity.

It bodes well for Dirigo and the health reform efforts we are trying in Maine, but it also helps all of our citizens by providing competition in the private insurance market. So these are companies that are interested in working in Maine and with the Dirigo Health Program on this effort.

We know the Dirigo Health Reforms are working. Just this week, the Superintendent of Insurance determined that the program had saved almost $33 million in health care spending in its third year alone.

While we believe the savings were larger, $33 million is significant. That’s money that wasn’t needlessly spent and will instead be re-invested in expanding coverage to people who don’t have it.

To make health care more accessible and affordable, we have to control costs. On that score, Dirigo is creating real dividends.

Momentum is growing also in this country for a new direction on health care. We can not be satisfied with a status quo that allows 45 million U.S. citizens to go without health insurance.

It’s bad economic policy. But more than that, it’s just wrong for the most innovative, industrious country in the world to be content with such health care insecurity.

I’m proud of what we have accomplished in Maine, even though work remains and the struggle for full health insurance coverage is far from complete.

But the challenge of providing access to quality, affordable health care to all our citizens is a national problem that begs for a national solution.

Until we have one, we will continue our efforts here in Maine.

In addition to Dirigo, we need bring greater competition to the health insurance market, adopt market reforms that will make the rates more transparent while also holding down costs.

There will come a day in this country when every man, woman and child has access to good health care. It won’t be easy and it won’t be cheap.

That day’s not here yet, but we can get there.

If we work together, put aside the partisan bickering and focus on good public policy, Maine can continue to be a leader in making sure people have the health care that they need, and it’s affordable and high quality. And we can continue to be a model for the rest of the country.

Thank you.

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Allagash Wilderness Waterway

September 29, 2007

Good day.

Recently I introduced an initiative designed to motivate parents to take their children outside and spend time together enjoying the Maine outdoors.

The reason was simple: Kids are happier and healthier when they are exposed to the wonders of nature.

I launched the initiative in July, just two weeks after my son, Jack, and I climbed Mount Katahdin.

Two months later, we are still talking about that trip – the memories that were made, the feelings of achievement when we hit the summit, and the aches and pains after it was all done, and the laughs we had along the way.

Both Jack and I remember vividly the scene from Chimney Pond, looking up at Maine’s highest peak, Mt. Katahdin. Breathtaking.

Earlier this month, we had another opportunity to experience one of Maine’s natural wonders.

Jack and I canoed 33 miles of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Northern Maine.

We brought 10 others with us, including 2 other parents with their children – Department of Conservation Commissioner Pat McGowan was joined by his daughter, Chelsea; and Karin Tilberg from my office was joined by her daughter, Linea.

Much like Katahdin – the views were spectacular.

The peaceful feeling as we paddled along the serene waterway is something that I will always remember.

I paddled with my friend Phyllis Jalbert (jal-BEAR), who is a registered Maine Guide with more than 5 decades of paddling experience.

My son paddled with another longtime, well-known Maine Guide, Gil Gilpatrick of Skowhegan. The two of them traveled the Allagash in a canoe that Gil had made during the Ice Storm of 1998.

Getting outside with a group of friends and families is almost always a wonderful experience.

It’s not just that we spent a weekend participating in healthy outdoor activities in one of the most pristine rivers in the country – but we also shared laughs, memories and stories with friends who were there with us.

The aches and pains of the 33-mile canoe trip have already gone away – for the most part - but the memories of the adventures and playing cribbage by campfire with my son will last forever.

The other parents who took their children on the trip feel the same way – they not only enjoyed the exercise, but they loved being with their family and friends.

And that’s what “Take It Outside” is all about.

The initiative isn’t about just going to the top of Katahdin or a trip through the Allagash – but it can be a walk through the woods, playing catch in the park, biking or snowshoeing one of Maine’s breathtaking trails, or even playing ball in the backyard.

The point is to spend quality time with your children while providing them with a healthy, outdoor experience. And you know what? It will be good for you too.

We are proud of our state parks, as well as our efforts to preserve Maine’s special connection to the environment. We value clean air and water and open spaces, and we have made the investments to protect them.

People come from all over the world to see our natural beauty and experience the beauty that we have right outside our backdoor.

There’s an old saying, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” We have worked hard to ensure that what we have in Maine will never be “gone” – but we’ll collectively work together to make sure our children still know that what they have is really precious.

Once again this weekend, we are encouraging our children to engage in outdoor activities.

With the Boys & Girls Club of America, Nickelodeon television, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, I have proclaimed Saturday as Worldwide Day of Play in the State of Maine.

The Waterville Boys and Girls Club is conducting a walk and jog along the Kennebec Trails for youth 6 – 12. Nickelodeon is turning off programming on all of its television stations and Web site Saturday from noon until 3 to encourage kids to get outside and play.

While it takes more than three hours out of one day to instill a healthy lifestyle, it certainly is a start.

As parents, teachers and neighbors we need to ask ourselves if we could be doing more.

“Take It Outside” will allow us to work with organizations that are already doing a great job of getting kids outside and connected with our natural resources – and to see where there is room for improvement within our own state agencies.

Next spring, for example, we will hold a Blaine House Conference on Youth and the Natural World.

In the meantime, we are in the first full weekend of autumn. There’s no better place to see it than hiking and biking along Maine trails, enjoying some of our parks throughout the state.

But despite the aches and pains – which I still relish - I have many great memories from those trips to Mount Katahdin and the Allagash. Those memories will last forever – and I encourage everyone listening to create your own memories today and “Take It Outside.”

Thank you. And have a great weekend.

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Listening

October 6, 2007

Last spring, members of the Legislature came together with my administration to overwhelmingly pass a strong, bipartisan state budget.

As part of that budget, we committed to a process to find at least $10.1 million in savings in the state budget.

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee was tasked with identifying those savings through cuts, restructuring and improved efficiencies, and my administration committed to working with them.

In August, I submitted a list of changes that could save the state $11.3 million. That’s a good start, and as you’ve already pointed out, it’s ONLY a start. But if it’s adopted by the Legislature it would fulfill the requirements in the budget.

But I’m determined to go further.

The Appropriations Committee has made progress in its efforts, and its work will continue in October.

The committee deserves a lot of credit for the work it has done, and the way it has done it.

They created a way to submit ideas on the Internet, and thousands of suggestions have come in.

I am taking these suggestions seriously.

People need to know that we’re listening – their voices are being heard.

I keep a list of those ideas that people have sent in with my other budget materials on my desk, and my staff is evaluating them to determine the savings and also in terms of improving quality and dedication of services.

While there’s still a lot of work to do on many of the ideas, they give us a very good place to start.

One idea that was put forward by the people is to merge the state agencies that deal with Natural Resources.

For a state like Maine, with a long tradition of conservation, outdoor activities and a natural-resource-based dependent economy, such a merger would be a major change.

But I am committed to looking at it. If it’s a good idea, we must do it. I know it is going to make people feel uncomfortable, but we cannot leave any stone unturned.

Another idea that I’ve been talking about for a while also showed up on the public list. E-mailers suggested that we merge the Department of Transportation with the Maine Turnpike Authority.

Such a move faces some hurdles, but it also appears to make a lot of sense. The Turnpike, which is a separate independent agency, and MaineDOT do many of the same jobs and provide many of the same services. I believe that there are operational efficiencies to be gained with better cooperation.

And Maine isn’t the only state that’s looking at this.

Governor Patrick in Massachusetts this week proposed a similar idea. He would abolish the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and a number of other independent transportation-related bureaucracies and form one agency that would deal with transportation issues for his state.

This is what I’ve said for some time and that’s the approach that we’re going to be considering and putting forward before the Legislature.

Other ideas from the public include further examination of the state’s energy consumption.

What would the savings be if the thermostat in state buildings was turned down to 65 degrees during winter? I don’t know, but it’s worth finding out and we’re going to find out.

The ideas are far-ranging and touch every area of state government.

I am committed to making government at all levels more efficient.

We need to be able to do this so that we can provide the resources to invest in research and development so our businesses have the latest technology to secure better paying jobs and prosperity for all Mainers; so that we can provide tax relief for income and property tax payers; and so that we can have higher quality of health and education services.

We can do better. We can be smarter about how we’re doing it and work better together.

Last spring, we took major steps toward improving K-12 administration. We are eliminating unnecessary administration and putting resources into the classroom where they belong.

We’re also, this year, going to be adding four-year requirements for math and science in order to graduate from high school. We’re building more rigor and quality in the classrooms with higher education standards.

This year I’ll be proposing a unified corrections system that will protect property tax payers from double digit increases to pay for county jails.

The changes are big and they make some people feel uncomfortable.

But we can’t move forward by keeping one foot in the past and one in the future.

We must transform government for the new century. We must put both feet in the future, so that all Mainers – my son and your son and daughters – have opportunities here and don’t have to leave Maine and go elsewhere.

We owe it to them, we owe it to ourselves and we owe it to Maine’s future.

Thank you and have a good day.

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Investing

October 13, 2007

Good morning.

In less than a month, Maine voters will go to the polls. The decisions voters make will have a lasting effect on Maine’s children and our state’s economic future.

It’s not enough for us to sit by and wish for a stronger economy. We have to pursue it aggressively.

There are three questions on the ballot that ask voters to approve new investments in job creation and business innovation, in higher education and protecting our environment.

We must make investments today if we want to be successful in a global, information-based economy.

I know that Mainers have what it takes to be successful. When I travel around the state, I am constantly impressed with the quality of our people, their work ethic and productivity, and their ideas.

Our people can compete – and win – around the world. They just need a level playing field and an opportunity.

That’s what Questions 2, 3 and 4 on this November’s ballot will do. They will help create the level playing field on which our people can work and win.

Question 2 will invest $55 million to support private-sector job creation and business innovations. If we want to have high-paying jobs with good benefits, then we have to invest in R&D that will lead to new industry, new technologies and the advances that go with them.

Question 2 gives us an opportunity to put resources to work strengthening Maine’s economy. It will give Maine the spark that it needs.

Just as important as creating new jobs, we have to provide our children and grand children with a quality education.

There was a time in Maine when a young person could get a good job without having a college degree. Those days are largely gone.

Today with the information-based, technology-based economy, it depends on a highly trained, educated workforce.

A college degree is no longer optional, and we have to make sure that every person in the state has the opportunity to receive a quality education.

I was at a car dealer the other day and they were telling me the importance of people having the ability with technology with today’s computer involvement with our automobiles. It’s unbelievable the technical expertise that today’s auto mechanics need to have - and it happens in all of the industries – in order to be successful.

There is no better predictor of economic success than education. People with more education have better jobs and earn more money.

Question 3 on the ballot will invest $43 million in higher education in our University, Community College and Maine Maritime Academy.

Our goal when we created the community college system was to make college accessible and affordable, opening the doors wider than they have ever been opened before for all Maine people.

We’ve succeeded beyond expectations. Enrollment at Maine’s community colleges is exploding. Now that success demands that we provide our schools with the support they need to serve our students.

The University of Maine offers students great academic programs at great values, and its professors and students partner with Maine industries and they’re leading the way in our efforts to innovate.

The work that’s being done at the system’s seven campuses is amazing. In Orono, they’ve developed ballistic plates out of cutting edge composite materials that are already at work protecting U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Engineers are working on new technology that holds incredible promise for Maine’s paper industry, Maine’s energy industry. A new process is being developed that will allow mills to make biofuels as part of pulp-making processes.

And Maine Maritime Academy offering a unique educational experience continues Maine’s connection to its ocean-based economy.

We must support our institutions of higher learning. They equip our students with the skills they need for a brighter future. They need our tools to do the right job.

So I’m asking for a yes vote on Question 3.

The world today is smaller than ever before. Technology, the Internet and wireless communications connect us to the world in ways we could never have imagined just a few years ago.

Those advances have given us great freedom. Industry leaders chose Maine because of the special qualities we have to offer.

Our state is rich in natural resources. Maine is beautiful and clean. We protect our environment, we invest in land conservation and we’re good stewards of the things that make us special.

Question 4 will invest $35 and a half million to support those efforts. We’ll be able to protect our working water fronts and farm lands, and safeguard Maine’s tradition of access for outdoor recreation.

Maine has a world-renowned brand name. We stand out for the quality of the products we produce and the quality of our way of life.

Question 4 helps us to protect those assets, including clean air and water, our state parks, historic sites, and our great outdoor traditions.

Maine can’t afford not to make these investments. But I need your help. I need your support and your vote on November 6 so that Maine’s economic vitality is secured for our future generations. It’s important for all of us.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Breaking the China

October 20, 2007

As I grow older and watch my son mature into a fine young man, I often think of my father and mother and the lessons they taught me.

One in particular guides me today.

When I was a state Senator, representing my hometown of Bangor, I was running the family business and my wife had a good job as a registered dietician.

To put it simply: I was comfortable and we were comfortable.

My father told me that my responsibility was NOT to be comfortable or satisfied. He told me that it was time after six terms to either move up or move out. He told me that I owed it to the people who had elected me and who trusted me with their votes to keep moving, to keep up the fight for their interests, and to challenge myself to do more.

It was his urging that prompted my first run for Congress, and ultimately my campaign for governor.

I have been blessed by the people of this state, who have given me their trust and support.

And I continue to hear that challenge from my father to cast off the comfortable and to be challenged by “What did I do for the people today?”

Maine has tremendous natural resources, an innovative and determined workforce, and a quality of life that attracts people from around the world.

But our assets cannot protect us against the changes of a new century.

We must change just as the world is changing around us.

The government structures that have worked so well for so long - they’re no longer sufficient. We spend too much on administration, too many levels of government, too much overhead and more and more of our resources are drained away from where they need to do the most good. In higher education, scholarships, and research and development. Providing platforms for opportunities and prosperities to do business here and around the world.

We are facing a future with a government from the past.

The United States is facing uncertain economic times. Revenues are mirroring the national trend, and we have to be prepared.

I am committed to make the changes necessary to ensure Maine’s financial health and the prosperity of all our people.

It’s time for us to rattle the shelves, and probably break a few dishes, but to recognize in doing so that we are going to have better opportunities for all Maine citizens so our young people, when they graduate from school, they will find their opportunities here and not have to go elsewhere.

We owe it to them. We owe it to their future. And it’s our responsibility in this generation to do the work that is necessary.

We started earlier this year. We’ve already tackled reforming K-12 education administration. The debate was spirited and it continues in some quarters, but the truth is we are well on our way to a successful reform.

We have gone from from 290 administrative units to less than 80.

We’ve added more transparency to the school budget process, and put more resources into the classroom, where they can do the most good.

But we have to continue to attack inefficiencies by looking at government at all levels, administrations in all areas, and move Maine ahead.

In August, I began a conversation over the future of the state’s prisons and jails.

The way we house prisoners is dysfunctional and places unnecessary pressures on prison personnel, taxpayers and inmates.

A unified corrections administration system will save taxpayers money, and deliver better outcomes for the inmates - the mentally ill, women with substance abuse.

Entrenched interests oppose the plan, fearful that they’ll loose some of their authority. But the change must come.

While there are some questions about existing county debt that need to be resolved, I am confident we can find a solution that works for every taxpayer in the state.

And I’m not going to just stop there.

As I’ve indicated before, every area needs to be reviewed.

My administration right now is reviewing a possible merger between the Maine Turnpike Authority and the Department of Transportation. Here are two organizations that basically perform the same functions.

They both maintain roads.

And we have to be able to work together to wring out the efficiencies, the duplications and the overlaps out of those two systems.

We’re also looking at our natural resource agencies in state government. These departments are populated by dedicated and skilled public servants, but we have a lot of administration, and we need to be able to break down the walls that separate our experts into these little silos.

The issues that face Maine in the future require coordinated responses and new approaches. We just can’t do things the way we’ve been doing them or we’re not going to change the results. And the results we need are not the ones we have been getting.

In order for better opportunities, better results, and a future where prosperity will be for every single Maine citizen, we need to change.

With your help, I know that we’re going to be successful.

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Trade Mission

October 27, 2007

Good day.

This weekend, as we root for the Boston Red Sox to what we hope will be their second World Series victory in four years, we should take a minute look at the makeup of this team and why they are successful.

The Red Sox have the free-spirited “Manny being Manny”; Jonathan Papelbon who has an unbreakable concentration; and the big bat from the loveable Big Papi; and an impressive rookie class of players who dazzled us just a few years ago at Hadlock Field.

The Boston Red Sox are achieving success by having a mix of seasoned veterans and talented young energetic rookies from their own system. But the Sox also know that in order to be successful, sometimes you have to look beyond your borders.

Last year the Red Sox went overseas and signed Japenese baseball sensations Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima. Daisuke has baffled opposing batters with his “Gyro-ball” and Okajima was voted to the American League All Star Team in July. These two off-season acquisitions have proven to be very instrumental in their success this season.

But much like the Red Sox, Maine businesses also realize that to be successful, sometimes it is imperative to look beyond U.S. soil. We live in a global economy and it’s no longer a competition with New Hampshire and Vermont - but we’re competing with businesses that are in countries thousands of miles from here.

Next week I will lead a delegation of Maine businesses and community leaders from Maine on a trade mission to Japan and South Korea.

It’s an important trip that holds great promise to help grow our economy, introduce Maine products to fast-growing trade partners in Asia and to create new jobs here at home.

I’m a bit of a homebody. I grew up in Maine and love this state. When I was a member of Congress for 8 years, I never went on any overseas trips. But as Governor, I have a responsibility to help boost the state’s economy and do what I can to bring economic development to the State of Maine.

These trade missions that have been established over the years by different Governors and different Administrations have sought to bring businesses, industry and community leaders in closer contact with officials overseas.

This mission that I’m taking is going to be a crucial one.

In the previous three, we have increased sales from Maine companies by at least $12.8 million dollars - and that’s a conservative number that only tracks new sales in the first year after the mission.

Yes, we’ve gone to Ireland and the UK, Germany, Italy, and France. Each time we’ve met with success.

But if Maine wants to expand its share of the international marketplace, we’ve got to pay attention to countries and show what we have to offer. If you want to expand trade with Asia, you’ve got to go to Asia.

Japan is the fourth largest trading partner of the State of Maine. It accounts for more than $128 million in exports. South Korea is fifth, with more than $100 million in exports.

When the Maine International Trade Center began planning this year’s trip, the nonprofit association went to businesses and ask: “Where should we be going?”

And the answer came back time and time again: we should be going to Japan and South Korea.

To expand our success in these markets, we have to be aggressive in pursuit of new trade opportunities. We can’t sit back and expect new trading partners to find us. We’ve got to go out and find them.

When Maine companies grow and export more to other countries, the effects ripple around the state. New jobs are created, the economy expands and state revenues increase.

This year’s trip features a wide range of companies. There’s a seafood company specializing in lobsters, a distiller, high tech companies and an old Maine standard like Maine Pulp and Paper and Thomas Moser Cabinetmaker.

We also have a strong contingent from our universities and community colleges. Their goal is to attract new students – and new ideas – to Maine’s great schools, broadening the experience for our kids, growing enrollment and breaking down the cultural walls that stand between the United States and other parts of the world.

There’s no question that trade missions have a positive impact on Maine’s economy. Businesses operate with an eye toward their bottom line. The high level of interest in this trip shows the potential for international trade.

This trip is about creating jobs and growing Maine’s economy. Maine has tremendous resources, innovative businesses and a reputation for quality. Part of my job is spreading that message.

The world is changing. Maine is very well-positioned to take advantage of those changes. But we can’t be content and wait for it to come to us because it won’t. We’ve got to act with confidence and show the world that what we have to offer they need more of.

I am convinced that this trade mission will be successful – as the others have been - and that success will spread throughout our state.

Wish us luck, and know that while we’re gone I’ll be thinking of home…and cheering for the Red Sox from 7,000 miles away.

Good luck to you and good luck to Boston!

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Keep ME Warm

November 3, 2007

When it comes to talking about the weather, there’s never a lot of certainty in Maine. Like the saying goes, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will probably change.”

But if there’s anything that we can say for sure, it’s that cold weather is on its way.

And for many Maine families, that truth comes with a chill as harsh as any winter wind. They are left to wonder how they’ll manage to keep warm with energy costs soaring and with little hope of relief.

We can’t control the price of heating oil or how high the mercury rises in our thermometers. But we can do our best to make sure Mainers don’t have to go through this winter’s short days and cold nights alone.

While high energy prices hit all of us hard, Mainers with low-incomes suffer the most. They are forced to spend a higher percentage of their income on heat and sometimes make it impossible, the choices that lie between staying warm, buying medicine and putting groceries in the cupboards.

It’s really no choice at all.

That’s why we have done our best, working with Maine State Housing, to stretch every single dollar out of our energy assistance programs that help Mainers who are struggling to make ends meet. They receive help buying heating oil.

The program makes a real difference. During the 2005 heating season, the heating oil program, called LIHEAP, helped almost 49,000 Maine families.

While the assistance usually doesn’t get a family through winter alone, there’s no doubt that it helps during the hardest times of the year.

Our efforts to help our neighbors don’t stop with heating oil.

We also have the Keep Maine Warm program.

This program helps families make the most of their resources by reducing energy costs.

Working together with a number of state agencies, private companies and nonprofits, 1,000 Warm Kits will be available to low-income homeowners.

The idea behind the kit is pretty simple. If we can help homeowners make their houses more energy efficient, they’ll have more money to spend on the essentials.

The kits contain a number of useful items, from fluorescent light bulbs, to low-flow shower heads, to caulking for interior storm windows. It also includes helpful information about how to take efficiency even further.

Brochures about the program will be available at a number of government agencies and Community Action Agencies, where kits can also be picked up.

It also includes $60 worth of home improvement tools that can make a difference for families living on the edge.

But the efficiency ideas on the brochures can work for everyone.

Heating bills will be high this year, and while we’ll have to make sure our less fortunate neighbors are taken care of, we’re all going to feel the sting of high oil and electricity prices.

A few simple steps – replacing conventional light bulbs with fluorescents, sealing cracks around doors and windows, insulating the water heater – can add up to significant savings over Maine’s long winter.

For more information on the Warm Kits or energy efficiency programs, Mainer’s can call the state’s information line at 2-1-1 or check out the MaineHousing or Maine Office of Energy Independence and Security Web site.

A few small changes can go a long way.

The very best protection that any of us has during difficult times is each other. If you’re doing OK, check in on a neighbor, call your friends and try to look out for each other.

Mainers have a long history of reaching out to one another during difficult times. So as we approach winter, I often think about the great Ice Storm and the hardships it created.

And as difficult as that was and as trying as that was, it really showed the greatness of Maine people and how they reached out to each other. Even if they didn’t have it themselves to give…they gave.

We might be reluctant to ask for help, but we don’t hesitate to offer it to others.

This winter is going to be cold, it could be long. But we know some of our neighbors are going to need help in order to make it through safe and sound.

The State of Maine is going to do its part, and I know I can count on all of you to do yours.

God bless you, and have a good day.

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Keep ME Warm

Veterans Day

November 10, 2007

Good day.

This weekend, we pay special tribute to the men and women who have served their country and continue to serve in the armed forces.

As we go about our daily lives this Veterans Day weekend, we must remember that there are still Mainers who are in harms way wearing the uniform of the United States of America.

There are soldiers from the Maine National Guard serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and other dangerous posts around the world.

We should keep them in our thoughts and prayers everyday, but especially on Veterans Day.

I recently visited South Korea and Japan on a trade mission to help Maine businesses extend their reach into international markets.

While visiting Seoul, I had the great privilege to meet an extraordinary group of soldiers from Maine serving in the United States Army.

I met with Sgt. Marie Stuart of Augusta, Staff Sgt. Justin Small of Palmyra. I met Private First Class Amanda Mountain of Presque Isle and Spc. Rachel Moore of Liberty and a host of others.

I want these young men and women to know that Maine misses them as much as they miss Maine, and that we pray for their safe return.

They wake up every morning thousands of miles from home, but just miles away from nearly a million North Korean soldiers who answer to the orders of a despotic dictator.

These young soldiers stand on the first line of defense for millions of South Koreans who owe their freedom and democracy to an earlier generation of soldiers who fought – and too often died – to help keep their country free.

We owe these men, and women who serve our country today and those who served in the past, our greatest respect.

In Maine, we take military service seriously.

Recently we had another report, which was released, that demands attention.

According to a Harvard University study, one in eight veterans younger than 65 lacks health insurance. That translates to about 1.8 million veterans nationally who are uninsured.

These are men and women who have bravely served their country, and have come home to find the new enemy they face is economic and health care insecurity.

It’s outrageous and demands a national solution. The time has clearly come to make sure every American – and especially our veterans who have risked their lives for their country – have access to affordable medical care that they need.

In Maine, we’ve built a strong support network for our veterans and our current military personnel. And we continually work to improve the services we can offer.

This January, I will submit legislation that will create a veterans campus in Bangor. Our priorities are to add a new hospice facility, an outpatient clinic and new independent housing for veterans to the existing facility.

The changes won’t happen overnight, but we have a vision for what that campus should be, and we will work to make it happen.

We have similar plans in northern, Downeast, and western and southern Maine – to submit these kinds of models to better take care of our veterans, their families and the support that they need.

I take seriously the responsibility, and will not waiver from my commitment for our veterans.

We talk about service, duty and honor on Veterans Day. Our veterans live up to the meaning of these words every single day.

And just as an aside, I just left a radio broadcast in Augusta where the National Guard has been working hard over the last several years in spite of having served in Afghanistan and Iraq to continue to draw in canned goods for the homeless and the hungry in the Greater Augusta Region.

They have been doing it in enormous pressure, demands, constraints, balancing off all of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their family responsibilities to continue to do this. I don’t know how they do it, but we are lucky to have them. They make our community and our state shine brightly across the nation.

I hope you all will join me in saying thank you to all these men and women who serve this great country.

Have a good day.

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Veterans Day

Energy

November 17, 2007

Good day.

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, but for too many Maine families, thoughts aren’t on turkeys with the trimmings or family gatherings.

Instead, they’re worried about keeping the heat on this winter and being able to afford the gas they need to get to work every day.

The price of heating oil and gasoline are near historic highs, and there’s no guarantee of relief in sight.

It’s creating real strain, leaving many Maine families, senior citizens and businesses with a lot of frustration, anxiety and difficult choices.

There’s no quick fix for energy prices. But by planning effectively for the future, we can reduce our dependency on foreign oil. We need to as a state, and most importantly, nationally.

In Maine, we’re leading the way on the development of domestically produced, renewable and clean energy.

We have our windmills up and running in Mars Hill; we have over $2 billion worth of proposals for more wind power generation around the state and they’re in the permitting and pre-permitting process.

Maine has tremendous potential when it comes to wind, solar and tidal power, and to grow new industries to produce the equipment necessary to capitalize on that clean energy.

We also have the natural resources necessary for these new biofuels.

The University of Maine is working to perfect new technologies to create ethanol as part of the pulp-making process. The innovation holds the promise to revolutionize papermaking in Maine and open new markets for the Maine-made fuels.

But for all the potential and all the progress we’ve made, the opportunities of tomorrow won’t lower heating oil prices today.

My administration has developed an emergency action plan that will help to address high energy costs and avoid a crisis as winter reaches its full fury later this year.

First, with our Congressional delegation’s help, we will demand that Washington meet its obligation to fully fund heating assistance programs.

In Maine, more than 80 percent of households rely on oil heat. Price spikes like the one this year hit us particularly hard, and low-income Mainers - half of whom are senior citizens on fixed incomes - suffer the most.

The federal government must meet its obligations and increase funding for heating assistance.

I’m signing a letter along with the Coalition of New England Governors, to urge Congress to approve this additional heating contingency fund.

We must demand that they meet their obligations. But we’re only one state out of 50. We can’t solve all of the world’s problems. But we can do what we need to do to ease the burden on other Maine families.

I have activated the state’s Energy Task Force, which is part of Maine’s Energy Emergency Plan.

The Task Force brings together the agencies and resources that the State will use to respond if the energy situation worsens.

Costs are high right now, but the worst of winter is still in front of us. The work we do today will put us in a better position to respond in case of an emergency this winter or a fuel crisis.

We’re also going to work with private charities as part of our Keep ME Warm program to have the additional funds so we can help those who don’t qualify for these programs.

We have 1,000 kits that have been made available for lowering energy bills. They’re going fast and I suggest you call the State’s information line at 2-1-1 for more information.

The Public Utilities Commission has provided an additional $400,000 to this program through so that we’ll be able to purchase products in bulk so that we can reach more customers.

I’m also asking the Maine Department of Transportation to establish a “Free Fare Friday” program that will let people take the bus on Fridays at no cost.

The idea is that we can introduce people to a cheaper, easier way to get around on Fridays and that will translate into greater use of transit the other six days of the week.

This pilot project will begin the Friday after Thanksgiving and run for six weeks with an ad campaign.

I’ve also talked to the President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Dana Connors. Government and business need to work together and we both need to change the way we think and operate these businesses.

We need to be flexible with workers. We need to make changes that will allow them to take public transportation, car or van pool, or telecommute.

It’s not going to hurt our productivity, and it could help reduce the demand for gasoline and save money.

And finally, I’m calling on Mainers to do what they do best: Look out for one another.

As the temperature drops, we need to make sure our neighbors make it through this winter safe and sound.

The State of Maine is going to do its part. That’s what we can do and what we must do.

And working together, we’re going to make sure that we’ll be through this storm safe and sound.

Thank you.

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Energy

Thanksgiving Weekend

November 24, 2007

Good day.

Families across Maine have come together this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving.

While there’s no doubt that our State faces many challenges in the days and months ahead, we also have much to be thankful for.

When the pilgrims first came to the United States almost four hundred years ago, they faced a daunting task: To carve out a new life from the wilderness of this new world.

Today, we are trying to adapt to a dynamic and changing world.

The old ideas and structures no longer work. Maine is facing an era of transition, where innovation, technology and global trade are replacing industries that have sustained us for generations.

Through it all, the spirit of our people remains hopeful and resilient. We have great strengths and many assets that will carry us well into the future.

I am thankful to live in a place like Maine, where our people not only are not deterred by difficult times, but take inspiration from our ability to overcome.

This weekend, we give thanks for the people in our lives who matter to us most.

It’s a time for family and for taking stock of the blessings that we’ve been given, and I count myself among the truly lucky.

I have a wonderful family and friends. And on Thanksgiving, we are able to spend some time together and enjoy the warmth and memories that only family can provide.

On Thursday, I also spent some time at the Dorothea Dix Center in Bangor and the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.

For years, I have gone on Thanksgiving to share a meal with some of the men and women who work at the centers and spend time with the people that they are helping.

Like our police officers, firefighters, soldiers - these men and women willingly sacrifice their holiday – and time with their families – to help others.

I want them to know that we all appreciate what they do.

And I also want the patients at the hospitals to know that they are important and that no matter what troubles led them to where they are today, Maine has not forgotten them.

With the holiday season now in full swing and the politics of a new Legislature and a presidential election picking up steam, the dash between now and the New Year will add to the pressures that most of us feel.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the gift-buying and the holiday parties, and forget about the hardworking men and women who hold society’s fabric together - the glue in our communities.

But there are countless people, most often working behind the scenes and out of sight, and make it possible for the rest of us to enjoy the holidays.

I’m thankful for them.

And this week, I also want to remember a man that all of Maine should be thankful for.

Last week, my friend, and yours, Harold Alfond passed away.

Maine is marked by the legacy of this man who gave much of himself and inspired others to do the same.

Through his gift giving and leadership, Harold brought people together to achieve great things.

He always believed in people. He especially cared for the children of Maine.

He has left a lasting mark on this state, and I am thankful that I had a chance to know him and see it firsthand - his passion for Maine and for providing opportunities, especially to the children of our state.

Also, it’s my prayer that we all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, that we are able to recognize the blessings in our lives and the people who make them possible.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

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Economic Development

December 1, 2007

I have some good news to report this weekend.

On Thursday, Maine welcomed to the state a major new employer.

athenahealthcare. They’re going to bring their company to Belfast, Maine, creating hundreds of new jobs.

athenahealthcare is an impressive company. It has been honored as one of the “Best Places to Work” in Massachusetts, they’ve had the third most successful Initial Public Offering of 2007, and they’re committed to being the employer-of-choice for the Belfast region.

These are good paying jobs with benefits. They’re not only going to help the individual workers, but they’re going to be able to strengthen an entire community.

The company helps doctors focus on taking care of their patients. It puts this Web-based technology to work to provide business services to doctors’ offices. Freed up from billing, collections and dealing with insurance companies, the doctors can concentrate on health care, which is what they were trained and educated for.

To bring athenahealthcare here, Maine had to win a fierce competition with five other states.

Working cooperatively on the local, state and federal level, Maine was able to beat out Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

Maine won the multi-state competition because we created the economic incentives -- like Pine Tree Zones, our workers training program -- that make the state attractive.

We won because our workforce ranks among the best in the country, and we have the available real estate resources to meet the needs of a large and growing company.

And we won because we were able to marshal the resources of Maine & Co., working collaboratively with Bank of America and bringing together support from our congressional delegation, the state departments and the Belfast area specifically.

Our economy in Maine continues to grow. But like most other states and the country as a whole, we aren’t growing as quickly as we’d like.

Maine has gained almost 4,000 jobs since last October. But if we want to be prosperous, we have to remain committed to two tracks of economic development.

First, we must aggressively pursue companies like athenahealthcare that can create good jobs and provide workers with the platform skills they need to advance in new careers.

When these quality jobs come to the state, they help to raise incomes. As we hold taxes steady, our per capita tax burden goes down and that’s progress. Maybe not as fast as we would like, but progress nonetheless.

And we have to continue to work to constrain administrative government spending. Right now, we have more administration than we can afford – at all levels – local, school, county and state.

We’ve got an opportunity to make more structural changes to put Maine on firmer financial footing.

In January, we are going to change to our education reform law that’s going to make it even easier for school districts to join together. We’re going to break down the walls and the silos that are holding back some districts.

The days when Maine could afford 290 school districts’ administration are long gone. The new law we passed earlier this year is going to create a new education system that’s going to focus on better outcomes for students, more rigor in the classroom, more professional development for teachers and be able to save taxpayers money.

We have to rethink our government structures and we have to be prepared to make difficult choices. Right now Maine has a corrections system and 15 county systems. They’re all trying to do the same thing: Keep communities safe and rehabilitate prisoners.

The current arrangement is too expensive - the results are inconsistent. We have extra bed capacity at the same time that we have prison overcrowding. And we face enormous construction borrowing that’s completely unnecessary.

A unified corrections system and administration solves those problems, gives us better outcomes, gives an opportunity for the inmates to rejoin society successfully, and saves taxpayers money.

But that’s just the beginning. We’re looking throughout all levels of government for ways to reduce costs, reduce administration and operate more efficiently.

We have got to be able to recognize that we are going to promote and be aggressive about promoting economic development, job production and prosperity for individuals.

But that other rail of reducing the cost of administration, the cost of government spending, and the burden on taxpayers at all levels has also got to be as fierce. Because the destination is making Maine a leader at providing opportunities for our citizens so they don’t have to leave our state and find jobs elsewhere.

They can raise their families here and provide bright opportunities in the future based here, as has been proven this week with athenahealthcare; as has been proven with T-Mobile and Cianbro and many other increased developments occurring in our state.

We can, in fact, attract those kinds of jobs, grow those kinds of jobs, even in a difficult economy.

Maine is a great place to live and a great place to do business. athena’s decision to come here is just the latest example of that.

We’re glad to have them here, and we look forward to more and more good news.

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Energy and Hanukkah

December 8, 2007

Good day.

Winter arrived in Maine this week, dumping a foot or more of snow across the State.

A December snow storm in Maine is hardly news. But the first storm of the year always brings out the sweaters on TV news, puts reporters on the side of the road with rulers and generally gets the crowds out to the supermarkets.

This week was no different.

What is different this year is that high oil prices are making winters teeth even sharper than normal.

Truck drivers in the State are facing record-high diesel fuel prices, and just about everyone is bracing for the next heating oil bill.

Gasoline is biting into almost everyone’s wallet.

And families and businesses are anxious about making ends meet and hopefully having enough left over for Christmas.

It’s a difficult time, and for some, they’re standing on the very edge.

Maine’s forest products industry has been especially hard hit. The men and women who haul logs out of the woods and the ones who then transport the finished products to the market are finding it difficult to compensate for diesel fuel that’s topped out at more than $3.90 in some parts of the State.

Last Friday, I set down with a group of truckers who were asking for help.

I wasn’t able to do everything they wanted. But I told them that we will do what we can, as fast as we can.

And right after that meeting on Friday, I declared an economic emergency in Maine and issued an executive order that recognizes the crisis in the forest products industry.

By some estimates, the industry could lose 20 percent of its independent drivers if things continue. These are the small businesspeople who create jobs, pay taxes and have helped Maine’s paper and forest product sectors survive difficult times before.

They are asking for help now, and we’re going to do what we can to answer that call.

We’re going to make it easier for them to get tax refunds from the diesel tax that they use for off road work.

I’m putting Legislation in to temporarily exempt parts and services necessary to keep their rigs running from the sales taxes.

And we’re going to make sure we don’t adopt any new regulations that are going to add pressure to them until the economy – and fuel prices have stabilized.

I’m also meeting in Washington with the Congressional Delegation and federal administration representatives to push for weight limits being raised so that we can get these trucks off the state and local roads where they are expending too much on fuel and mileage. In terms of safety, we need to get them on the interstates where the weight limits need to be raised.

We need to also pass anti-speculators legislation so that we can enforce laws against speculators from driving up the prices of crude oil, which have a ripple impact on diesel and gasoline prices.

And we need to push for additional low-income heating assistance. Half of all of our recipients are senior citizens on fixed incomes and we can’t afford to let them go cold this winter.

I’ve also asked John Kerry, my director of the Office of Energy Independence, and Karin Tilberg, who is a senior policy analyst in my office to work together with the trucking industry and the forest products industry to continue to dig into what we can do to be helpful – and we are going to be as helpful as we can. We are going to work with this industry. It’s an important part of the State of Maine and they need our help.

And it’s not just the truckers who are struggling.

As I pointed out before, we have 50,000 families who depend upon low-income heating assistance, and we need to make sure that we keep them warm this winter also.

So, as I pointed out before, our State can’t solve the energy crisis by itself; we need leadership from Washington. But we can – and we are – taking steps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to loosen the grip it has on our economy and our people.

At sundown on Tuesday, our Jewish friends and neighbors began the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah honors the victory of the Jewish Maccabees over the Greeks more than a thousand years ago.

After the victory, the Maccabees rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem, but they did not have enough oil to keep the lights burning as required.

As the miracle is retold, a single day’s supply of oil burned for eight days, enough time for more oil to be made.

The story is not about oil itself.

Instead, it’s about resilience and survival and faith.

We join this week in the celebration of the festival of Lights, and we know that despite the difficulties we face, Maine people will come together, help one another out and make it through a difficult winter.

Thank you and Happy Hanukkah.

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Alfond College Challenge

December 15, 2007

This week Maine received an incredible gift from a man whose generosity is already well-known around the State.

On Tuesday, I was proud to take part in the formal introduction of the Harold Alfond College Challenge.

The Alfond College Challenge brings together the ideals that have driven Harold Alfond’s lifetime of giving.

Harold’s generosity is legendary in Maine and it continues today. Beginning this January in Central Maine and going statewide next year, the Alfond College Challenge will start every newborn off with a grant of $500.

The grant, which will be invested in a college savings plan, will start Maine children on their way to a college education.

As the name says, the program will also challenge parents to begin saving at the beginning of their child’s life for college.

Money invested today can grow dramatically by the time a baby is ready to start their higher education.

If left untouched, the $500 will grow into almost $2,000 by the time a child is old enough for college. With a little help from parents and grandparents – maybe just $50 more a month – the account can grow to $25,000.

And the program assures that families have the information they need to be smart investors who plan for their children’s future.

Given the growing cost of higher education, it’s essential that families start planning early. While the task of putting a child through college can seem daunting, the job is more manageable a little bit at a time.

So dollars invested today can make a real difference down the road.

Throughout his life, Harold repeated the same mantra over and over again: A community’s greatest assets are its children.

That philosophy is central to Harold’s giving and to the Alfond College Challenge.

It’s our collective responsibility today to take care of our children. In the future, it will be their responsibility to take care of the world.

Harold was dedicated to making sure they have the tools they need to be successful.

It’s impossible to estimate Harold Alfond’s impact on Maine. He has touched so many lives and so many communities with his generosity.

But his activism went well beyond making gifts.

He continually challenged people and communities to do more than perhaps they thought possible.

He reached out to people, he built partnerships and he drove people to do amazing things.

Whether it’s the new cancer center or a one-of-a-kind partnership with the “Y” and the Boys and Girls Club in Waterville, Harold brought out the best in people.

I’m grateful to have had a long friendship with Harold Alfond, and just before his passing talked with him about the important Challenge as a way to encourage all Maine families to plan and prepare for higher education.

Harold didn’t go to college, but he recognized early on that the days of making a good living with just high school diplomas were disappearing.

He has committed himself to making sure every child – regardless of background – has a chance.

Harold believed that in this new economy that a person should get a college degree regardless of the cost. The benefits, he said, would last a lifetime.

But he wasn’t blind to life’s hard realities and for some families, college can appear like a distant dream.

With the Alfond College Challenge, the dream is a little closer into reach, is more attainable, and less distant.

While Harold was building Dexter Shoe, he also was building a family with his wife, Bibby.

Bibby was a modest and necessary partner for Harold. Her goodness has shown through in all of his work. Her eloquence and gracious nature are a shining light, and her commitment to doing the right thing helped to shape Harold’s thinking and his actions.

Together they raised the family – and a beautiful family. Together that family and Harold and Bibby instilled that ideal of service and generosity to their children and grandchildren.

Harold Alfond was my friend. I miss him dearly, but also have remained inspired by him.

In the book about Harold and Bibby’s life, Harold said that he didn’t plan to retire until 10 years after his passing.

He was serious, and Maine will be a better place because of it.

Generations of Maine children have been touched by Harold Alfond and his family, and he will continue to reach out with a hand up to generations to come.

The people of Maine owe Harold a great debt of gratitude. He has made the world a little bit kinder and a little bit gentler for all of us, and he has challenged us to do better for ourselves and our children.

Beyond everything he has done, that will be Harold’s legacy.

Related Documents

Alfond College Challenge

Christmas

December 22, 2007

Back in 1897, an inquisitive little girl named Virginia O’Hanlon sent a letter to The New York Sun.

Virginia wrote that some of her friends had told her that there was no such thing as Santa Claus.

So she put the question to her newspaper: “Papa says, ‘if you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”

The short letter, composed with the earnestness that can only be mustered by a young child, prompted one of the most famous newspaper editorials ever written.

Francis P. Church, an editor at The Sun, wrote back to the little girl in the pages of the newspaper:

“Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see,” Church wrote.

“They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.”

“All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.”

Church continued: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.”

“There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.”

“Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.”

“The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.”

“You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart.”

“Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.”

“No Santa Claus!,” Church explained. “Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Virginia O’Hanlon became a school teacher and principal in New York City, where she worked for almost 50 years.

Her simple question and Mr. Church’s thoughtful and touching words in response speak to the true beauty of Christmas.

It’s not the presents or the food, the tree or the lights. Or the hectic scrambles or impossible balancing acts that make the holiday.

It’s about the joy of family and friends, the expectations of better times ahead, and the knowledge that there is love and kindness in the world.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful and caring family.

And I’ve been given an opportunity beyond the wildest dreams of an 8-year-old wondering about Santa Claus.

And everyday I go about conducting the People’s Business with the knowledge of how lucky I am and appreciative of the trust the people of Maine have placed in me.

So, as we come together this weekend, let us remember what’s important. It’s our family, it’s our friends and our community. It’s the men and women who are serving our country far from home in the military. Let us hold them close in our thoughts and prayers, and be thankful for the sacrifices that they are making and their families are making for the rest of us.

It’s cold out there too and there’s snow on the ground and heating oil prices are too high. So check in on your friends and neighbors, and make sure they’re OK and spread a little holiday cheer.

Mainers, we take care of one another when times are tough, and I know this weekend will be no different.

I hope that everyone has a safe and warm holiday season.

From Karen, Jack and myself, God Bless you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Related Documents

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

The New Year

December 29, 2007

Governor John E. Baldacci Radio Address The New Year

The year 2007 is nearing its end.

When I look back on the past year, I do so with mixed feelings.

In Maine, we have seen great accomplishments, and we have met great challenges.

We have laid the foundation for great opportunity, and we have made the difficult choices that will strengthen the State in the coming year.

We have invested in our roads and bridges, our community colleges and universities and in our environment.

We have continued our commitment to K-12 education, spending unprecedented state resources – about a billion dollars a year -- to make sure students receive a quality education.

And we have completed significant conservation projects that will ensure that Maine’s North Woods are preserved and remain open for traditional uses, including hunting, fishing, hiking and snowmobiling.

We’ve celebrated together as our beloved Boston Red Sox won the World Series, and our New England Patriots stand on the threshold of legend.

We’ve seen the Legislature work together in a bipartisan way to protect Mainers from unscrupulous lenders, to invest in the innovations and technologies that will drive our State’s economy forward, and to make the most significant reform in K-12 education in 50 years.

These are all things that we should be proud of and should celebrate.

But we’ve also endured tragedy and loss.

We remain a nation at war, with young men and women pulled from their family’s loving embrace to fight in far-off places where the outcomes remain uncertain.

Our economy is suffering under the weight of bad decisions by national policymakers, a weakened housing market and record-high energy prices.

Too many families face cold nights, empty cupboards and debt they cannot manage.

Around the country, States have watched as revenues have dropped just as people are in the greatest need.

Maine has not been immune.

In November, we learned that Maine’s revenues would not its meet expectations and that we would have to address a $95 million downturn for fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

Families and businesses all around Maine are struggling. They are being forced to make tough decisions, to set priorities and adjust to new realities.

State government must do the same thing.

I have ordered spending reductions of $38 million for the current fiscal year, which began in July.

This decision brings me no pleasure; many of the reductions will be unpopular. But it is my Constitutional duty to make sure the State budget is balanced.

We are doing what is necessary right now.

Every part of State government was called upon to make recommendations on how to reduce spending while maintaining their core missions.

The process was deliberative and exhaustive.

The cuts we are making will not be easy, but we are moving forward in a way that makes sure that we can protect our most vulnerable citizens while also upholding my obligation under the Constitution to balance the State budget.

In January, I will submit a supplemental budget to the Legislature that will follow many of the reductions I’ve already put into place by executive order.

The supplemental budget will also allow me to adjust some of the curtailments that would be necessary absent legislative action.

It’s my hope that the Legislature will recognize the need for quick action and that together we can pass a strong, bipartisan supplemental budget.

This time of year, we often see images of Father Time -- stooped with age, bearded and worry – handing off his duties to Baby New Year.

For the Old Man, his work is done; for the baby, it’s just beginning.

For most of us, the New Year is neither a beginning nor an end. It’s a continuation, a time to take stock in where we’ve been and where we want to go.

As Ellen Goodman has said: (QUOTE) We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws, but for potential (End QUOTE).

When I look around the rooms that make up Maine, I am inspired by the ingenuity of our people, their entrepreneurial spirit.

I know that our State’s potential far outweighs any of its challenges -- if we are prepared to make necessary changes.

I believe we are at a turning point where we can re-imagine what government looks like and how it functions.

The work has begun, and it’s my resolution that it will continue in 2008.

Thank you for listening and have a Happy New Year.

Related Documents

Audio of Governor's Weekly Radio Address, 12-29-07

Welcome Back

January 5, 2008

Good day.

The Maine Legislature returned to Augusta this week with much work to do and the hope of a successful session.

To the person, the men and women in the House of Representatives and the State Senate are dedicated to doing the best they can for the state and the people they represent.

It’s no easy job to serve, and this year promises to be just as challenging as they have been in the past. Members of the Legislature will see their patience and perseverance tested.

I know the feeling of excitement and opportunity that builds among State lawmakers on the eve of their return to Augusta.

For 12 years, I represented my hometown of Bangor in the State Senate. Those were challenging and good times. My colleagues and I were able to accomplish a lot.

I know that today’s Legislature comes to town with those same high hopes and great expectations.

They will be greeted with many difficult questions that will require their full attention and commitment. They will be called upon to put their normal lives – and too often their families and friends – on hold while they get to work away from home.

It’s no easy task. But like my mother used to tell me, she said: “John, you ran for it. You asked for it. Don’t complain about it.”

First of all, on our to-do list, lawmakers will be helping me to close the revenue shortfall of $95 million dollars.

With a lagging national economy, high energy prices and a struggling housing market, Maine revenues haven’t met expectations.

Last month, I took the action to reduce government spending by $38 million for the rest of this year. It is my constitutional duty to ensure that the budget is balanced.

I’ve done that.

That step put us in a stronger position to deal with the changing revenue picture.

Next Wednesday, I will deliver a speech of the State of the State to a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In it, I will describe my plans for the State budget and unveil the details of how I think we can best move forward.

No doubt there’s going to be arguments this year about Maine’s priorities. There will be disagreements, some of them heated.

But in the end I am convinced that all of us – Democrat and Republican and Independent – are here for the same reason.

We are here to do what’s in the best interest for Maine and its people.

Democracy is a great conversation where competing ideas vie for support.

Between now and April, the conversation will cover a lot of ground. We’re going to talk about our priorities as a state and the shape and function of state government.

We’re going to talk about how to reduce spending, how to streamline government and how to take care of our most vulnerable citizens while also recognizing the limits of what the State can and can’t do.

We’re going to talk about economic development and job growth and how best to put the resources of the State to work delivering opportunity and prosperity to all of our people.

We’re going to talk about K-12 education and college access and about how to best to prepare our children and grand children for a lifetime of success.

And we’re going to make sure that our veterans and servicemen and women are better taken care of when they return home from war.

We’re going to talk about energy and how to wean ourselves from dependency of foreign oil.

And to talk about how we can protect the health and welfare of our people, providing better access to health insurance and to get us away from dangerous toxins that are hidden in everyday products.

It’s going to be complicated at times because of the election-year politics that will entice us with the lure of partisanship.

Thursday, caucus goers in Iowa began the process of choosing a new president. New Hampshire primary voters will follow suit on Tuesday.

In Maine, the entire Legislature will be up for election in November.

The temptation for showmanship and confrontation will be great.

But Maine’s better than that. The passions of November have no place in the policies of January.

We’re sent to Augusta to work together, to solve problems and make Maine a better place to live and work.

In 1961 during his inaugural address, President Kennedy spoke about the necessity of a constructive dialogue with the Soviet Union.

I think his words apply equally to politics in a time of sharp partisan divide.

“So let us begin anew,” Kennedy said, “remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

“Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems that divide us.”

With those words, I’d like to welcome the Legislature back to Augusta. Working together, this session holds great promise for Maine, our shared goals of prosperity, opportunity and good health for all of Maine’s people.

Thank you.

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Welcome Back

Post State of the State Part 1 - Need for Change

January 12, 2008

Earlier this week I delivered my State of the State address.

My message was simple.

We have experienced tough times in the past, and have many challenges facing us now.

State revenues are not immune from the national economy teetering on recession. We are forced to make hard decisions and set priorities.

But Mainers are resilient.

We recognize when the way we have operated in the past isn’t getting the job done, we need to change.

And we have some choices to make. These choices will help to define who we are as a State, and what we hope to become.

We must strengthen government at all levels to better serve people in the demands of this new age, and we must also prioritize our spending so we can support those things we value most.

We’ve been working at this for some time already. The steps that we have taken by eliminating short-term borrowing and building up our reserves have placed us in a stronger position to deal with this fickle national economy.

And we have done it all without raising the sales or income taxes.

Think of it – a billion more dollars into local education, built up our reserves by $158 million, making sure there is no more short-term borrowing, and being able to do all of that without raising the sales or income tax. I think that’s an accomplishment the state should be very proud of.

But still, we must do more. First, three things I can promise that we will not do:

We will not pull the safety net from underneath the people who are the most vulnerable.

We will not take from our financial reserves.

And we will not increase taxes to balance the budget.

We will attack redundant administration so that we can free up resources for our priorities.

Since taking office in 2003, we have reduced the rolls of State government by more than 600 jobs. We have centralized back-office and administrative functions in all State departments. And in the first two years alone, we have been able to save over $11.5 million dollars.

Last year we recognized that our current education system was not sustainable.

We had 40,000 fewer students since the early ‘80s, but we have 400 more administrators, not counting superintendants. It’s not sustainable and we can do a better job to provide education to our children.

In August, we began a conversation with the County Commissioners and Sheriffs about the financial hardships created by our current, fragmented system, a system that is bad for taxpayers and bad for mentally ill and drug-addicted prisoners who do not get the care they need to break the cycle of crime.

I am submitting legislation to unify the state prison system with 15 county jail administrations.

And also, on another front, for three decades, the world has experienced amazing advances in science and technology.

But Maine’s natural resource agencies haven’t been allowed to keep up. The structure hasn’t kept pace with the changing times.

And in my budget, I propose a process that will result in no more than two natural resources agencies, where today we have four: the departments of Agriculture, Conservation, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and Marine Resources.

We will seek efficiencies and combine programs that shouldn’t be separated by bureaucracies.

In the area - the Health and Human Services Department - we must also seek change.

Through a contract with a private company called Unisys Corporation - nationally respected - the Medicaid computer system will be fixed.

I have also proposed a reorganization of the upper and middle management at the department that will empower frontline workers, reducing from 10 to 6 the number of central offices in the agency and consolidate management at the regional level.

In my budget, we will bring together three of the largest purchasers of health care in the State so that we’ll be able to purchase health care to save taxpayer money and provide better care to consumers.

The Maine State Employees Association, the University of Maine System and the Maine Education Association will join forces and put their enormous buying power to work to lower prescription drug costs.

So, it will save money for thousands of workers who need medicine, it will save taxpayers dollars who contribute to the system, and it will increase the amount of money that could be available for retired teachers’ health care.

These are just some of the proposals that I have put forward to the Legislature and to you, the people of Maine, to enable us to reform government so it works better, so that we can make critical investments in our future.

We are streamlining government and cutting administration.

And we are controlling spending.

We are investing in education and innovation so our children and families can succeed here in Maine and not have to go elsewhere.

And we are helping to increase the amount of incomes and good jobs and benefits.

That’s the roadmap that gets Maine where it needs to be.

Next week I’ll talk about some additional steps that we need to address in order to improve the lives of the people of Maine and to grow Maine’s economy.

Thank you and good day.

Related Documents

Need for Change

Clear Choices

January 19, 2008

As a State, we face a number of choices.

They aren’t simple, but they are clear.

Our revenues have declined, we have a growing list of needs and we don’t want to raise taxes. And we have a government that in many ways needs to be updated for the 21st Century.

That’s our situation.

Unlike the federal government, which can literally print more money when it wants to, Maine must – and should - balance its budget.

It’s good fiscal policy and it would be irresponsible for our State to spend beyond its means.

But at the same time, the requirement often leaves us to struggle over priorities and how to best put the resources of the State to work.

In tough economic times, like those we face today, our people need more help, not less. But the same slowing economy that hurts job creation and takes a bite out of paychecks also leaves the State with fewer resources to help those in need.

We must prepare for the possibility that more bad news about the economy is coming.

Such times demand that we react with compassion and determination.

We can’t shy away from changes that will put us on more sound financial footing and fix the structural shortcomings in government that needlessly draw resources away from where they can do the most good.

Last year, we began a process of reducing the number of school administrative units. With bipartisan support of the Legislature, we passed a reform that will reduce from 290 to 80 the number of school administrative districts in the State.

Since the early 80s, the number of students in Maine has declined by almost 40,000 and is expected to decline by 20,000 more in the next five years.

During that same time period, the number of school administrators has increased by 400, not including superintendents.

For 50 years, we have done the same old thing, the same old way, and it hasn’t produced the excellence and results that we need.

It’s not sustainable and it drains resources from students and teachers.

Now we’re on to a new structure that will better serve our people. It will save taxpayers money and provide a better quality education for our children.

In August, we began a conversation about the way we treat inmates in our prisons and county jails, the property tax burden that they place on all of our citizens and it’s a very fragmented system.

It is bad for taxpayers and bad for mentally ill and drug-addicted prisoners who do not get the care they need to break the cycle of crime.

I have submitted legislation to unify the state prison system with the 15 county jail administrations.

They’re not breaking local laws or county laws, they’re breaking State laws. Those are State prisoners and the State’s responsibility.

The plan has evolved from when we first began talking about it. We have listened to the concerns from counties. And we have made changes to improve our plan.

If we can tone down the rhetoric and the fear, I believe we can find a solution that will save money and improve the treatment of people in our care.

Also in my budget, I have proposed a process that will reduce the number of natural resource agencies from four to two.

It’s been almost 30 years since we developed our approach to the stewardship of Maine’s natural resources and in those three decades, the world has changed dramatically.

And Maine’s natural resource agencies haven’t been allowed to keep up.

The merger process will seek input from farmers and fisherman, sportsmen and all those willing to come to the table.

Our goal is to enhance the services provided to natural resource-based businesses; To increase outdoor recreation; And to improve natural resource management.

The back office work of all of those agencies – the I.T., human resource and budget people – have already been combined into a natural resource service center. We have been able to do this kind of activity throughout State government and saved over $11.5 million dollars a year. But we need to do more.

Our people need better and higher quality services. They also need tax relief. We have got to look at reducing the administration of these bureaucracies.

We need to have it for the resources to invest in education, economic development, health care and tax relief.

We must also transform government at all levels, strengthen it to meet the demands of a new age. And we must prioritize our spending.

Our efforts are not confined to a single area. We are looking at government at every level, and we’re looking for improvement.

We know that our future economic success is going to be built upon the foundation of our people and the special qualities that define our neighborhoods, towns and our State.

The only way for us to be able to do it is to do things more efficiently – not just on one level of government, but on all levels of government. Integrated, collaborating, partnerships. Serving the 1.3 million people in our state better so that they can produce the results that will better their lives, be able to better support their families, strengthening their communities.

It works from the grassroots up in strengthening our economy, strengthening our people and strengthening our future is my goal and the administration’s goal as we work toward this future.

Thank you.

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Clear Choices

Energy

January 26, 2008

I have said time and time again that Maine has it all – natural beauty, an amazing work-force and tremendous people. We are a state that is admired from afar and cherished by those who are lucky enough to live here.

But that’s not to say that we don’t face challenges.

Mainers are resilient – we meet those challenges head-on and we work through them.

Every year, Mainers face the inevitable challenge of the winter season. The joys of skiing and snowmobiling are overshadowed for some of the harsh weather and energy prices that seem to only go up.

I know families are struggling with this.

When I became Governor in 2003, one of the first things I did was to create the Office of Energy Independence at a time that oil was selling for about $20 dollars a barrel.

Fast forward five years to the present – oil prices have topped out at $100 dollars a barrel, gasoline prices have doubled and people throughout the Northeast are struggling to stay warm.

We’ve established the Keep ME Warm Program to aid families who need heating assistance but don’t qualify for Federal heating assistance.

With the help of the United Way, Eastern Maine Funders and the Maine Community Action Agencies, the program has raised more than $1 million dollars for fuel assistance.

Last month, Irving Oil announced a donation of $100,000 for the fund; and L.L. Bean said it would donate $250,000.

This fund is a great example of “neighbors helping neighbors.”

In addition, we learned last week that Maine will receive an $8.8 million dollar relief package in emergency funds for additional fuel assistance.

With that money, more than 48,000 households that require energy assistance will be able to afford more oil for this winter. It won’t be able to get them through the entire winter, but it will help.

I want to thank our Congressional Delegation for working together to help bring the much-needed money home to Maine.

High energy prices are not just affecting families, but businesses are hurting as well.

I have talked to the truck drivers and small business owners who are being pushed to the brink.

This month, the statewide average for diesel hit a record price three days in a row. This problem is not going to correct itself.

I have heard the call for help and we’re answering that call.

Earlier this week, the Legislature passed - and I signed - a bill that allows for a temporary 5-percent increase in the amount of weight trucks can haul forest products on Maine roads.

The action is one step that can be taken to ease the burden on our forest products industry – and we’re already working on additional legislation to ease the tax burden for the industry as well.

But for too long, our country and our state have been dependent on costly foreign oil.

Eighty percent of Maine’s homes are reliant on oil for heat.

As prices have risen, we have sent billions of dollars out of state to pay for it. Money that otherwise would have remained in Maine with families and businesses here.

We have got to end our addiction to foreign oil.

We cannot be shy about new energy projects. We need to harness our natural resources and turn them into energy that is produced AND used here in the State of Maine. Wind, tidal, solar power, and our abundantly available natural resources in this State and we should capitalize on that.

Throughout the State we have over $2 billion dollars worth of wind power projects either approved or awaiting approval.

Maine’s economy is changing – and our industry must change with it.

During my State of the State, I announced a “Wood-to-Energy Initiative” to bring Maine-made sources of heat into homes and businesses.

The partnership will bring together the public and private sectors to explore what is possible and what is practical.

Maine will join New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to look at the possibility of available forest resources to support a variety of initiatives while operating on a sustainable basis.

We will identify the business potential of new bio-energy and biochemical uses of our forest products;

And we will analyze the best use of those available forest products in terms of employment, profitability, long-term viability and sustainability.

We can develop renewable sources of energy made in Maine, by Maine businesses for Maine people. When we work together, everyone wins.

While the temperature isn’t as harsh as it was a few days ago, this weekend is still cold. And no matter how much we’ve come to expect winter, it doesn’t always make it easier to pay the bill. Keep an eye on your families and neighbors and lend a helping hand when it’s necessary.

Brighter, warmer days are ahead, but we’re going to stick together and help one another through this cold season in Maine – just as we have always done in the past.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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Energy

Jail Compromise

February 2, 2008

Good day.

It’s been about six months since we began an intense debate about the best way to manage the State’s prisons and jails.

At times, the discussion looked like an argument.

But I’m happy to say that after months of hard work and effort, my administration, county officials, sheriffs - have all agreed that a plan that will save taxpayers money and lead to better results can be done.

Last weekend, long negotiations resulted in that compromise plan that combines the best elements of two competing proposals to reform prisons and jails.

While there’s much work to be done and a number of details to be resolved, Maine is on the way toward much-needed reform.

Now, county commissioners, sheriffs and my administration can work in unison with the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee to finalize a plan that will modernize the way we run corrections in Maine.

Most Mainers probably haven’t paid close attention to the debate that has surrounded prisons and jails for the last several months.

Prisons and jails are rarely considered in our daily lives. And when we do think about them, the thoughts are often confined to money – how much jails cost and how much they add to property taxes.

Under the compromise brokered between the counties and the State, we will reduce the burden on property taxes, we will create a more efficient system and provide better mental health and rehabilitative services to prisoners.

We will create a State Board of Corrections that will determine the best use and mission of our prisons and jail facilities and help to hold down overall costs of implementing bulk purchasing.

We have better control over bed space, alleviating unnecessary overcrowding and doing a better job managing where prisoners are housed.

Right now, between the counties and the state, we have more space than we need, but the current system doesn’t allow us to effectively utilize it.

The State Board of Corrections will also determine future needs for the system and approve all of the construction projects. This alone will save the state millions of dollars in unneeded construction costs.

And ultimately, some jails are likely to close, but like new construction, those decisions will be made by the State Board of Corrections, which will include representatives from the ranks of sheriffs, county commissioners, along with representatives of the administration and the State at-large.

So while there will be greater coordination between the State and counties, the day-to-day operations of the jails will be left in the capable hands of local sheriffs.

Jail officers will remain county employees, and will receive support from the State as they work toward national accreditation.

The plan will lead to uniform policies from jail to jail and facility to facility.

And most importantly, the new compromise plan will stop the growth in property taxes to pay for jails and will lead to better outcomes for prisoners, which will make our communities safer.

The compromise plan which has been developed took the determined and good-faith efforts of many people, including county commissioners, sheriffs, the Department of Corrections and countless others.

Going forward will require the same kind of commitment from the men in women on the Criminal Justice and Safety Committee and the lawmakers in the Legislature.

I’ve talked with many of them, and I know that we are all working toward the same goal: A better, more efficient corrections system that saves taxpayers money, protects public safety and improves our efforts toward rehabilitating the people in our care.

I think we all realize the way we’re doing things today can’t continue. It’s not sustainable.

The good news is that we’re largely agreeing on how best to move forward and to make those improvements.

So we are taking an important step for the State of Maine that will pay dividends in dollars and in improved lives for years to come.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Jail Compromise

Premier Graham's Visit

February 9, 2008

Good day.

Just about a year ago, I had the honor and privilege of visiting New Brunswick, Canada, where I addressed the province’s Legislative Assembly.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to re-introduce Maine to one of our closest neighbors and to improve our cross-border cooperation on a number of issues.

Those efforts have already paid great dividends, and this Tuesday New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham will visit Maine and speak to a joint session of the Maine House of Representatives and State Senate.

Together, Premier Graham and I have begun to lay the groundwork for a new energy future.

Maine and New Brunswick are blessed with great potential for development of renewable energy resources.

We have enormous potential for wind and tidal, hydro-electric and bio-mass, and we have ready access to a New England market that is hungry for “green” power.

Last February, Premier Graham and I signed a memorandum of understanding that begins to examine the hurdles and benefits to greater cooperation on energy production and transmission.

We sit on the edge of the Boston-Washington market, and we have what millions of people need: lower-cost, reliable electricity.

And there are also challenges that must be overcome before Maine and New Brunswick can fully capitalize on our joint potential.

Work to break down those barriers continues, and Tuesday’s visit by Premier Graham demonstrates that we have committed and sincere partners in New Brunswick.

You know, Maine families and businesses face an increasing – and unfair – burden from high costs of electricity too.

As it stands today, we are stuck in system that takes – and makes - money from Maine to pay for poor decisions made in other states.

Our electricity prices are unnecessarily high, and it puts real stress on our manufacturing and business development; and it puts real stress on working families.

So, I believe by working with New Brunswick, I can, and we can develop an alternative to our current predicament that will save our people money and make our businesses more competitive.

To be successful, we need an aggressive pursuit of renewable production, and expanded wind generation and further development of wood-to-energy initiatives.

I want Maine to develop energy resources that utilize our natural resources, put people to work in good-paying jobs and reduce energy prices.

And we are going to need to support increased transmission capacity to carry the energy produced in Maine and New Brunswick south to the states that are desperate for it.

You know, Maine’s ties to New Brunswick go further and deeper than emerging energy partnerships.

We are also close culturally in our ties between the province and our state, and a long tradition of trade and movement between our territories.

We have much in common.

Last year, Premier Graham and I watched as representatives from our two community colleges signed an agreement to share knowledge, experience and resources.

And this year, we are going to discuss ways to increase the ties between our artistic and creative communities.

Through March 22, the exhibition of late Maine artist Bernard Langlais is on display in Saint John and so far, it’s been a great success and speaks to the potential of even greater cooperation.

And, of course, New Brunswick and Maine are tied together by our people, who travel back and forth across the border for work and for recreation.

Canadian tourists are an important part of Maine’s economy, and during Premier Graham’s visit, we will speak to the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, which is being held in Bangor on Tuesday.

Tourism is Maine’s leading industry, and we will work with Premier Graham and his government to make it as safe and easy as possible for visitors to travel back and forth across our shared border.

I look forward to continued cooperation between New Brunswick and Maine, and I am confident that we are stronger when we work with our neighbors on common goals.

And I am proud to welcome Premier Graham to Maine on Tuesday, and I look forward to his address before the Maine Legislature.

Premier Graham and I began a common goal for the people we serve. And it was to set our state and provinces on the road to energy independency and self-sufficiency and to lead our countries in energy conservation and environmental protection.

I am confident that in Premier Graham, Maine has found a partner in progress.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

Premier Graham's Visit

The Budget

February 16, 2008

Every year, Maine’s Legislature deals with a long list of ideas.

Lawmakers diligently move through good ideas and bad; big ideas and small ones, critical matters and minor ones.

But there is no bigger item on the agenda than the State budget.

Ultimately, how the State allocates its resources defines our collective priorities as a community.

This year is no different.

We began 2008 with bad economic news. Revenues were not meeting expenditures for the fiscal year.

We passed a two-year budget. The Revenue Forecasting Commission revues the revenue figures and streams, makes a determination whether those estimates for the two-year budget were on target or not.

Because of the declining economy, Maine’s revenues were estimated to be declined by $95 million dollars for the two-year budget. Therefore, with that notice, I began a curtailment of all State spending so that we would be able to meet the budgetary responsibilities that the Constitution has assigned to the Governor of a balanced budget.

I presented a Supplemental Budget to the Legislature to incorporate those cuts - and additional cuts - because it’s my goal that this $95 million dollars be realized without any tax increases, any additional fees or fines and be truly balanced, as it was two years ago.

Since that time, we’ve had an additional slowing of our national economy and the Revenue Forecasting Commission has indicated that it will be meeting at the end of this month to further review whether they need to decline state revenues once again.

Estimates are being thrown around from anywhere from 30 – 50 million additional dollars that the State will lose because of this slowing economy that we have.

And, due to other factors overall with the federal changes of rulemaking in terms of the Medicaid program, the State is estimated to see somewhere between 20 – 30 million dollars less of revenue from the Medicaid match for the Targeted Case Management Program.

Those things, while they’re still in flux, have given us an opportunity to continue to roll up our sleeves, to continue to look for savings, continually trying to spread resources, but we recognize that our ultimate responsibility is to the citizens of this State who are tightening their own belts. I’m determined to make sure that we don’t add any additional burdens to that.

It is difficult for groups and organizations – and some people – to recognize that we have to change. I’m trying to find, in all of the darkness, opportunities to reorganize how we’re doing things - to use this as not so much as a crisis, but as a challenge and an opportunity to change things for the future.

The core of our responsibilities and priorities are to our children, to our most vulnerable. We need to make sure that the safety net is there.

We need to reduce the amount of administration at all levels of government – even in non-profit and social organizations that we reimburse.

Those are difficult because those associations have been built up over a long period of time.

But our ultimate goal is to make sure the safety net is strong and at the same time we are providing for economic development and growth.

We need to recognize that the best opportunity is an opportunity and foundation of higher education, research and development so that once they graduate they find the new opportunities here in our State and don’t have to leave the State of Maine and go elsewhere. But they find it here and that we retain and protect the highest quality of life that we have.

Because in the State of Maine, we have an opportunity in the 21st century to make it Maine’s century. If we can expand broadband Internet capacity, if we can protect our quality of resources, if we can ensure the doors to higher education are opened wider than ever before and providing research and development with the university and other non-profit institutions so that the latest cutting edge technologies can start up factories and processes here.

And make Maine the renewable energy, the green energy State, the hub energy State of the 50 states, so we can be a pioneer in wind, wood and tidal.

I think Maine’s future is bright, we have to work at it. It’s not going to be easy and there are going to be sacrifices.

And also, I know this has been a difficult time with the winter that we have had and the ice storm that’s reminiscent of ’98 in some small way that we wish would stay back in 1998.

But I just want to thank our line crews, our road crews, our State Police, Sheriffs and local Police Department, and all those people that have given of themselves during a very difficult time.

I really appreciate – and I know the State really appreciates – what you have been doing. So on behalf of all of us, thank you for your service.

Related Documents

The Budget

NGA Conference

February 23, 2008

Good day.

In the early 1900s, it became clear to many of our country’s leading thinkers that the United States needed a highway system that could tie communities together.

Work began planning for the network of roads as early as 1921, but it took the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 to bring to life what’s known today as the Interstate Highway System.

As a young soldier, President Dwight David Eisenhower realized during a cross country trip that our national security and our economy were closely tied to our ability to move people and goods from place to place.

Initial estimates expect the Interstate System to cost about $25 billion to complete. By the time it was finished, it would cost more than $110 billion and adjusted for inflation, the price tag was closer to $425 billion.

President Eisenhower also realized that the job of building highways from coast to coast was simply too big for States to accomplish on their own.

Today, our country faces a long list of problems that are too big for individual states to tackle alone.

We must have an active and willing federal partner if we are to be successful.

As it stands today, the federal government is not meeting its responsibilities to the states.

Federal funding for roads and bridge repair is declining, leaving states short of revenue they need to keep the Eisenhower Interstate System running smoothly.

New Medicaid rules are threatening to strip states of billions of dollars worth of health care support.

And the President’s latest budget has been accurately described as a disaster for the states. It takes money from low-income heating assistance and state-level drug enforcement and further undermines every state’s financial ability in a time of economic trouble.

The national economy is struggling, and the effects are trickling down to Maine. We know the revenues of our state that we are collecting are declining.

Our administration is working with the Legislature to close a growing budget gap by making the hard decisions necessary to balance the budget.

But the problem is compounded by actions – and in some cases inaction – in Washington that adds to the burdens placed on Maine taxpayers.

This weekend, I will be traveling to Washington to participate in the National Governors Association Winter Meeting.

I will deliver a message to my fellow governors and to the President that Maine needs a willing partner in the federal government if we are going to meet the challenges of today.

Like most other states, Maine must balance its budget every year. We can not continue to carry an increasing burden passed on by the federal government content to let its decisions add to our economic turmoil.

Maine learned earlier this year that the federal government is planning to change the rules on Medicaid. The result will be a drastic reduction in funding for health care to older Mainers and disabled children. The state will lose tens of millions of dollars and communities will lose much more.

The rule changes, which go well beyond the intent of Congress, will ripple through our State’s economy, leaving families struggling to provide for their loved ones and people out of work.

The change comes at a time of already increasing pressure on the State budget, making it difficult – if not impossible – for Maine to continue to provide all the services that people currently receive.

Other states are facing the same crisis.

But our problems are not limited to health care.

As the costs of building and maintaining and repairing our State’s highway and bridges have gone up, federal support has not kept pace. Federal support has actually declined every year since 2002.

The federal government has played a major role in funding transportation in the United States, but as it reduces its participation, states aren’t able to fill in the gap. We need a recommitment to the nation’s infrastructure from Washington.

As the nation’s governors gather this weekend, we will also be discussing the advancement of new energy resources, improvements in education and long-term care for our older citizens.

While states rely on the federal government, we just can’t wait for action.

On energy, for example, Maine is leading by example. We are aggressively pursuing the development of wind and tidal power, and my administration has created a Wood-to-Energy Task Force that is going to explore every opportunity to turn Maine’s forest into an environmentally friendly, renewable energy resource.

And while the federal government has stalled on efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions and develop a sensible energy policy, Maine and other Northeastern states have forged ahead.

And while federal regulators left Mainer’s suffering under the high burdens of energy prices, Maine has sought out developments and built new, cooperative relationships with New Brunswick that we believe will lower electricity costs for Maine ratepayers in the future.

Working together, in a bipartisan way, I believe this country’s governors can deliver a potent message to Washington that now – during a serious economic downturn – is not the time to pull support away from transportation, health care, energy and education.

Now is the time to put the incredible power of the federal government to work solving problems, not creating new ones.

Thank you and have a nice weekend.

Related Documents

NGA Conference

The Economy

March 1, 2008

Good day.

Last weekend I was in Washington for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

It was a productive weekend of meetings, and I was able to exchange ideas and listen and learn from other governors from every part of the country.

Two things are very clear from the trip: The national economic downturn is truly national. It’s taking its toll on states from coast to coast as diverse as California and New Hampshire.

There’s talk that gasoline prices could top $4 a gallon. I know that’s hard to imagine.

Families and businesses are already suffering from gasoline prices that have gone up about 20 cents in just the last two weeks. Diesel prices are even higher, and we’ve all felt the sting of home heating oil.

It’s no wonder that the national economy has slowed to a crawl and that prices are steadily climbing on everything from food to appliances. Just this week we learned that the producer prices have climbed more than 7 percent since last year – that’s the worst inflation since 1981.

The poor national economy is affecting families and businesses in Maine, and it’s also affecting state government and its operation.

The two-year State Budget depends upon certain revenues now that are not there, because the economy is not as robust as was expected or estimated for the budget when it was passed a year ago.

So we have got to tighten our belt. We have got to make changes so that we’re not burdening families and people and businesses in the State of Maine when they’re going through difficult times.

All told, Maine revenues have declined by about $190 million for the two-year budget of 2008 and 2009.

The situation demands action, and it demands leadership.

Already, I have submitted cuts for the budget that will close half of the budget gap without raising taxes and without draining our reserve accounts.

And next week I intend to submit further cuts that will balance the budget.

My legislation will not include tax increases.

As I said, people are struggling and businesses are struggling and families are struggling. Yet some folks are quick to look at a tax increase as a quick and easy fix, but it’s neither.

We must explore every option; look at every cut; make the tough decisions now.

If Maine’s spending is left unchanged, the budget problems we face this year will continue to grow next. The gap will get bigger and bigger, and the choices will be harder and harder.

That’s why we must restructure the way government operates at the state, county and local level.

The people of Maine have sent us to Augusta to lead and to do the hard things required of government in difficult economic times.

Yet despite the clear evidence, there are those still who are reluctant to change.

Some folks, who I am convinced are well-intentioned, would move us backwards on the important school reforms passed just last year.

The landmark school law will provide students with a better education, while eliminating unnecessary administrative duplication. And it will save taxpayers money.

We can’t go backwards. We need to change and we need real progress. To do so otherwise would be betraying tomorrow for the illusion of gain today.

We are also making real progress on our efforts to create a unified, statewide corrections system that will combine the best elements of our state and county systems.

Presently we have 16 different administrations of correction. This new, unified, statewide corrections systems approach will be much more beneficial both to the counties, where they are going to be housed, and to the State, but also to the taxpayers by making a better, more efficient correctional system.

It’s real progress, shows real cooperation and we’ve been able to approach it by working together. It’s something Mainers should be proud of.

I also know that my original proposal to set in motion a merging of Maine’s natural resources agencies ruffled a lot of feathers. But even there, we can point to some real gains.

Conversations have continued, and we are working toward a real evaluation of how best to provide services to Maine’s hunters and fisherman and farmers. And we won’t forget our natural heritage and the traditions that make Maine special.

As I have studied the changes that are required to bring Maine’s budget in balance, I don’t see lines of numbers. I see real faces and real people.

I understand the implications of what I am proposing. My decisions have not been made lightly or in haste.

We will not turn a cold shoulder to the desperate or the sick. And we will not forget about our less fortunate neighbors.

But we cannot continue on the same path, doing things the same way and expect different results.

We need to point ourselves to the future.

The challenges placed on Maine by a faltering national economy demand that we move today with an eye toward that future.

It’s not enough to act for the short-term. We must do what’s right and change for the long-term.

Thank you and have a nice weekend.

Related Documents

The Economy

Budget Revisions

March 8, 2008

Good day.

Maine and the nation face an uncertain economic future.

The national economy is either in a recession or on the edge of one. Maine is not immune from the effects.

As serious as the State’s financial circumstances are, I know that Maine families are facing pressures just as great at home.

They are caught in the vice of high gasoline and high energy costs, rising inflation and insecurity. The housing market is stumbling along and the stock market is also unsteady.

We must rebalance government without adding to the burdens Mainers are already struggling to overcome. And we must be prepared, because our national economy could still get worse.

This week, I submitted a new round of cuts to the two-year state budget.

It builds on the changes I submitted earlier this year.

Since last year when we passed a two-year state budget, the State revenues pegged on that State budget have declined twice.

It’s now about $190 million short of its original target.

In addition, the federal government has reneged on its obligation by changing reimbursement rates for Medicaid, placing an added weight on the backs of Maine taxpayers.

For all the talk of stimulus from the federal government, we know Maine must find its own path through this crisis.

We must bring our spending in line with our revenues.

That’s why I am proposing a new round of spending reductions and it hits every part of State government.

We have worked diligently to mitigate the cuts to education, and we have looked for innovative ways to ease the impact on classrooms.

These cuts are painful to me, and I do them reluctantly. But given the national economic slowdown, we have no choice.

We have also tried to limit the impact of the cuts were proposing to health and human services, and to protect our safety net for Maine’s poorest, oldest and sickest.

Health and human services and education spending account for about 80 percent of the State budget. There is simply no way to reduce spending by $190 million without touching those areas.

There will be changes to Medicaid, which serves the State’s poorest.

There will be changes for seniors.

People will lose their jobs. State offices will close.

We’re cutting 71 positions, including 20 management and administrative jobs in health and human services and we’re reorganizing their central office.

We’ve maintained frontline law enforcement, and we’ve protected as many core programs as possible.

I’ve heard the stories from people who are losing important support from the State. They have reminded us all about the crucial responsibilities that the State fulfills.

I know the tears are real and the cuts painful.

But I honestly believe that Maine taxpayers are near the end of their capacity to pay.

The change package includes no tax increases, or no dipping into the stabilization fund.

We’re not out of the woods yet, folks. We won’t know until April just how bad things will get. We must be ready for bad news, and make sure we have the reserves to react.

As the economy stalls, the costs are growing beyond our ability to keep up.

Right now, we know that the fiscal strain we face this year and next is repeated in the next two years.

So, it is our responsibility to act today in a way that not only solves our short-term problems, but also puts us on the path of sustainability in the future.

We’ve put forward real reforms: less school administration, a unified corrections system and more efficient natural resources management.

These changes are absolutely necessary.

We can’t continue to waste money on outdated government structures.

We do so only at our own peril because our problems are only going to be more difficult to solve in the future.

There’s still reluctance in many quarters to accept reforms. But they must happen. Otherwise inefficiency will continue to rob resources from our children, from our sick and elderly and disabled and from our economic prosperity for a brighter future.

So, we have a responsibility to the people of Maine, and I know there are those out there working two and three jobs a piece just to get by. We don’t want to add to their struggles.

So I know that the reductions are difficult.

I know that is a responsible approach under very tough circumstances.

And I appreciate you listening and recognizing what we have to do together.

Thank you very much.

Related Documents

Governor's Weekly Radio Address for March 8, 2008

Bringing Balance to the Budget

March 15, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, there was plenty of turmoil in Augusta.

A number of folks were brought to the State House to oppose the changes to the budget I submitted last week.

When I made my recommendations on how to bring Maine’s budget into balance without raising taxes, I knew that the choices were the best of a bunch of bad options.

The rally on Wednesday was effective. It put real faces on decisions that are often talked about in terms of just dollars and cents.

But the reality of the situation is that all of Maine is struggling right now under the weight of a declining national economy, some say is nearing a recession.

Working men and women, some of them punching the clock at two jobs or more apiece, aren’t able to make due. They’re falling behind on their bills and they’re making tough personal choices about what to do without.

Small businesses are being crippled by rising costs that they can’t pass along to their customers, who are also suffering.

Consumer confidence is down. Oil and food prices are up.

We just can’t balance the state budget on working men and women. We must bring the structure of state government into check with the resources we have available.

I just want to put into perspective the added weight that Maine families are carrying right now.

This isn’t going to come as any surprise to you. You’ve been experiencing the pinch all along.

The cost to put gas in the car now accounts for 4 percent of the household budget this year, where it was 2 percent last year.

Since last year alone, the cost to drive to and from work has increased more than $600 dollars for an average Maine family.

The cost to fill the oil tank for winter has gone up more than $800, and still climbing.

And food prices are going through the roof. The cost of eggs and milk is going up. Fruits and vegetables are up 20 percent.

The grocery bill for a family of four in 2008 will be $700 more than it was in 2007.

Wages are growing, but they aren’t able to keep up.

And the very people hit hardest by these higher costs would also carry the greatest burden if we were to raise the taxes.

We can’t do it. We can’t add to the weight and burden that is already holding them down.

This week, I meet with an inspiring group of people involved in the Peace Corps.

Many of these men and women put their lives on hold so they could travel to other countries to help people in need.

They have upended their own lives and transplanted themselves in far-off places for the common good. They’ve served in such places as the Ukraine and Zimbabwe, Turkey and Ghana and many other places.

This week they traveled to the Blaine House so we could recognize the important and selfless work done by many of these volunteers that make up the Peace Corps.

It came as no surprise to me that Maine has one of the highest rates of per capita Peace Corps volunteers in the country.

Mainers have been answering the call for more than 47 years, helping others with agriculture, health and education.

And volunteers represent the spirit of Maine that I know so well.

Our people are willing to give of themselves to help others. They answer the call when someone else might let the phone ring.

They do their part to help their neighbors and to help strangers – people they might never meet.

But right now, I know the national economic condition is hitting all of Maine and all Mainers. And I know that state government’s ability to pay has fallen short of its obligations.

We must bring things back into balance. We must restructure government at all levels and all areas to be more efficient, and we must make cuts.

What we cannot do is to hurt and burden the hard-working men and women of this State who have stepped up, done the right thing by their families and communities and have helped build this State into a place I am proud to call home.

I understand the cuts that I have proposed touch real people. I know that. And for anyone who doubts the important work of government, this week’s rally should leave no doubt.

I welcome good ideas on how we can better make the reductions that are necessary to resize Maine government.

But I also know that higher taxes also touch real lives and real people. Mainers are patient, caring and giving. But even they have their limits.

We live in challenging times. But if we are disciplined in our decisions today, we will reach brighter days sooner rather than later.

Thank you for listening.

Related Documents

Bringing Balance to the Budget

Easter Weekend

March 22, 2008

This weekend we celebrate the most holy day of the Christian faith, Easter.

It's a time of rebirth. Regardless of a person's faith, we can all take heart in this time of great celebration and renewal.

Easter is a holiday about lifting the spirits, individually and collectively. It is a time to share with a loved one and to celebrate the ties that bind us to our family and to our community.

This year we seem to need more uplifting than ever and it’s a recognition that the long cold winter here which is hopefully ending; and the uneasiness we have about our future – our economic future -- will be replaced by hope of better things to come.

For a number of months now, we have been dealing with great challenges and I have talked to many Mainers who have expressed their worries about making ends meet. They want nothing more than to provide security for themselves and their families and to see their communities healthy and strong.

But instead, they are gripped by anxiety of fear that the slowdown in the national economy that has impacted Maine jeopardizes their economic security.

Adding to the struggling national economy, the burden of the ever-rising prices of gasoline and home heating oil, the continuing war in Iraq and the protracted winter of cold temperatures and repeated snowfalls. It’s easy to see why such great anxiety has taken hold.

Everyone in Maine is impacted. All of us are sharing in this turmoil.

But Mainers are resilient. We’ve experienced tough times before, and we’ve come through it.

I have no doubt that we have brighter days ahead.

Like the long cold winter, the financial challenges we are experiencing won’t disappear overnight. And as with the ice storm we experienced a decade ago, it will take the collective work of all of us to get through this economic ice storm. And we are experiencing it together and we have to stick together to get through it.

That’s why I have asked all Mainers to do what they can do to look out for themselves and their communities and families. And that is why, under my proposal to close the state budget deficit, I have asked all state departments to share the sacrifice by reducing spending in their areas – not raising taxes and burdens on individuals, working families and small businesses.

Many of those people and businesses are already shouldering the burden of government that spends too much, and many are just holding on. We shouldn’t add to the struggles of hard-working families who have seen the spike in energy costs and the impacts from everything from home heating oil, to transiting to work, to increasing food prices.

Only through such structural changes in our budget will we stem the tide of rising budget shortfalls – now and into the future.

We need to rebalance government to better serve people with fewer resources.

So that’s why I was pleased late this week, the Appropriations Committee – after working long nights and weekends – reported out a budget that meets the guiding principles I set forth.

With this budget, we brought State spending in line with our revenues, we’ve restructured government to make it smaller and more efficient, and we’ve taken major steps toward improving our financial position in future years.

The budget approved by the Committee restores partially funding to important programs, including the university and community college and our Health and Human Service programs that serve our most vulnerable populations.

Make no mistake, the budget process going on in Augusta is difficult and painful, but we can no longer afford to put spending changes off for another Legislature or another Governor. Maine people need and deserve real relief right now.

This past week we have recognized St. Patrick’s Day and Franco-American Day. Two great celebrations, like Easter, are special because they celebrate who we are as a people. Maine draws its great strength from the cultures that have come before us in this State. And we have survived and thrived because we have stood together through those times, and have been able to come through it stronger than when we started.

Times of great challenges are a true test of our strength, and Mainers have always been there and have always come through.

As with Easter bringing new hope to Christians; as spring brings new growth and hope for all of us; we join together with our families and communities this weekend in reaffirming that tomorrow will be better, and the answers for the troubles that we face and that winter is almost over are in front of us.

And I wish all of you a happy and healthy Easter.

Thank you.

Related Documents

Easter Weekend

Aroostook County Visit, Energy Summit

March 29, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, I traveled to Aroostook County.

I visited Caribou where I was briefed by local emergency management officials about the impact that this harsh winter has had on The County.

The toll on people, animals and property is clear.

Normally, the hardy folks in The County shrug off bad weather. They poke fun at the rest of us when we start complaining about big snows and cold spells.

If anyone can handle the snow and the cold temperatures, it’s the people who live in Aroostook County.

But this year, it’s been even too much for them. If you haven’t seen the piles of snow firsthand, it’s difficult to believe.

And if you add to it the price of heating oil, gasoline and electricity, it has been crippling.

It’s bad enough that roads have narrowed to little more than paths cut through packed snow, but gas prices being high are kind of like a “one-two punch.”

So, the State is going to continue to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and, if possible, we will try to draw financial support for the storm that brought 18 new inches of snow to The County just last week.

My trip to Aroostook wasn’t just to see the snow, but I also visited the wind farm at Mars Hill to celebrate the project’s one-year anniversary – the light at the end of our economic slump.

In short, the amount of time that the wind farm has been in operation, it has generated enough power to put the electricity to 19,000 homes; it’s saved more than 240,000 barrels of oil and 111 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions have been avoided.

Now that’s significant. It’s good for our economy, it’s good for our environment and it’s good for our people.

And we can continue to develop alternative sources of energy in Maine, we will be able to reduce our dependency on costly foreign oil and bring down the price of electricity and gasoline to Maine families and businesses.

Maine has more than $2 billion dollars in wind power projects already approved or in development. Our State has a tremendous opportunity to become one of the leading producers of clean electricity in the country.

On Thursday, I will be hosting an Energy Summit at the Civic Center, here in Augusta. The event will cover a broad range of energy-related issues which is going to focus on efficiency.

For all of Maine’s potential to produce green energy in the future, we can save real money today by reducing our demand. Improving energy efficiency is the quickest way to cut energy costs for families and business alike.

The Energy Summit will include an introduction to energy-efficient technologies and services that can help cut costs for small and large businesses, builders and schools and hospitals.

The keynote speaker is Thomas Casten, chair of Recycled Energy Development. He spent 30 years developing decentralized recycling projects. And he is going to help us to better understand how we can save money and reduce pollution.

There will also be plenty of opportunities for the participants to learn from one another and to participate in some small-group discussions on practical topics - from financing energy investments to efficient technologies in commercial building projects.

I’m looking forward to the summit and know that it has the potential to be a great success.

While most of the news we hear about energy these days is negative – high prices and pollution and unstable supplies – positive things are happening here in the State of Maine.

I have submitted legislation this week that lays the ground work for Maine to break away from the power grid that currently holds our State hostage. Today, we are forced to pay electricity rates that are too high for our homes and businesses with little return for Maine consumers.

We’re going to make sure we have the options to improve our situation and to lower our costs.

I’ve submitted legislation that is going to ensure that Maine remains in control of our energy future. Federal regulations threaten to take many decisions out of our hands. We are going to make sure that Maine is not dictated to by the federal government, but by the citizens of this State.

We are working to implement those recommendations, along with the implementation of the Wind Power Task Force recommendations, which are going to put forward a plan that makes it easier to put up wind resources and work on producing electricity.

We are going to be able to zone areas of Maine and expedite the development in those areas, agreed to by environmentalists, consumers, business industry and the public.

The Task Force helped to recognize the barriers, find reasonable and workable solutions to them, so my hat is off to them.

Those recommendations protect our environment and our special places and qualities of life, and they also put us in position to maximize the benefits of wind power for Mainers.

By combining new technologies, an aggressive pursuit of alternatives to fossil fuels and an emphasis on conservation and efficiency, Maine can end its dependency on expensive foreign oil.

So it’s not unrealistic to imagine that day when we stop sending those hard-earned dollars overseas and start using those dollars here in Maine to generate economic development in putting our people to work.

Thank you and have a good day.

Related Documents

Aroostook County Visit, Energy Summit

Enacting a Responsible Budget

April 5, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week the Legislature and I worked to finalize the details of changes to Maine’s current budget.

The process was necessary because the State – caught in a national economic downturn – was spending more money than the tax resources coming in.

A $190 million shortfall had to be addressed.

Maine, like most states, must balance its budget annually. We don’t have printing presses like they do in Washington – we have to really make it happen.

When the national economy is faltering and federal cuts hit Maine, we either have to find additional tax resources to support critical programs, or we have to cut back.

A series of difficult choices confronted us in Augusta, and many Maine people offered their views to me and their Legislators about how we should approach this funding gap.

I appreciate the hard work of all of those involved through long and difficult debates.

The members of the House and Senate Leadership and the members of Appropriations in particular, did a tremendous amount of heavy lifting to craft a compromise that would pass the entire Legislature.

They also kept to important principles I outlined earlier this year when I developed a package of cuts that focused on reorganizing government in order to bring State spending in line with the tax resources that we had.

These principles were not to raise taxes on hardworking families and small businesses, not to raid the State’s rainy day fund and to find efficiencies in the way government does business and provide high quality services that Maine people deserve.

While these decisions were tough for all of us, we realized that if we are going to change the way we operate, building a government that we can afford and that continues to provide important quality services to our people - the Legislature enacted such a budget.

And I signed a compromise package that kept to my guiding principles.

There were real cuts in this budget, and you’re going to hear about those cuts, because they bring real pain. That’s why I put a proposal forward that shared the cuts among all departments and programs.

While some of the cuts I proposed to higher education and Medicaid were partially restored by the Legislature – and I appreciated being able to work with the Legislature to soften the edge of some of those cuts - a number of other reductions were included in the final budget.

A number of crucial restructuring and streamlining efforts made an additional reorganization of the Department of Health and Human Services necessary.

Combined with critical restructuring of the state Department of Education and local administration of education, we have tackled the two largest pieces of State spending, together accounting for a full 80% of the entire State budget.

These decisions have been difficult, but the end product is a reasonable and responsible budget that puts us on a firmer financial footing moving forward.

And that’s important, because we cannot predict when the national economy is going to rebound and we can’t ask hardworking families and businesses that employ people to shoulder more of a load when they’re having a hard time as it is, right now.

High energy prices that continuing to go sky-high, struggling to balance their bills and pay their people.

Families are under a lot of real economic insecurity right now and it’s not a question of “if” we are in a recession when people are gripped by anxiety.

Given the continuing housing crisis, credit crunch, war overseas and energy costs, we have got to be prepared for additional tough times. This budget helps us do that.

Our job doesn’t end with this budget. It’s imperative that we continue to reduce administrative inefficiencies in education, in corrections and streamline government at all levels.

We are all there to serve the same people. We have to do a better job working together and we have got to have fewer people to do it. And we know that’s what the future necessitates if we’re going to provide high quality health care, educational opportunities, economic development and protect our natural resources.

Given the challenges of the slowdown in the national economy, I’m proud that the Legislature was able to come forward again and work with me and my Administration to produce a budget that recognizes shared responsibility.

Not only are we addressing the short-term problem, but we are putting ourselves on a path of sustainability in the future – so that we are prioritizing spending and making sure that we have the funds to be invested in job growth and economic development.

Thank you very much.

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Enacting a Responsible Budget

Securing State Driver's Licenses

April 12, 2008

Today I want to talk to you about Maine’s Driver’s Licenses.

But first, let me just say that in our State we have some of the most terrific people, the most welcoming people, and people who are like family to all of us.

I’m thinking of the area in Aroostook County, where when I first campaigned and locked my car door, people said, “Don’t do that,” because people will think that you’re from away or you have something to hide.

Or how many stories of the families that don’t have a key to the front door because they’ve never locked it before.

We’re a very trusting people. We’re people who reach out and make sure we support each other.

But at the same time, the world is coming to Maine and we have got to be on our guard more than we have in the past.

And it’s been too easy to get a driver’s license, and has the potential to cause an awful lot of trouble.

The pace and the change of the world around us, there are too many people now who are willing to “game” the system for illegal purposes.

So right now I’ve introduced Legislation and it’s before the Legislature - two significant changes to the requirements for getting a driver’s license. So that when you renew your license or you’re going to get a new license in Maine, you’re going to have different certifications to enforce restrictions around making sure that people are legal residents in Maine and they have a residency here in the State.

Criminals from New York and Boston are bringing van-loads of people to Maine for the sole purpose of getting a driver’s license.

They don’t intend to live here or move here. But they understand all too well that a valid driver’s license has become “the keys to the kingdom.”

At a time, a driver’s license was simply a license to drive a car. But it has become much more.

It allows us to get on airplanes, to cash checks, to open bank accounts. It makes hundreds of daily business and personal transactions possible.

Maine cannot continue its practice of handing out driver’s licenses at will to people who shouldn’t be qualified to get one.

There are horrible examples of abuse. One man from Ireland came to Maine, got a driver’s license he should never have received and used it to buy a gun. He later used that gun to rob a bank.

Maybe this man would have gotten a gun anyway, and maybe the driver’s license had little to do with his criminal behavior, but having the driver’s license made it easier for him.

His actions put countless people – including bank patrons, workers and police officers – in danger needlessly.

We have to add a residency requirement to our driver’s license.

But that alone is not enough.

We need to make sure that people from other countries who are in the United States illegally can’t get a Maine driver’s license.

Right now, illegal aliens are brought north to Maine by crooks and con men to get a driver’s license. With that, they can skirt the law more easily and a dangerous, underground economy can continue to grow.

I have submitted legislation that would put an end to the State’s practice of granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. If you want a Maine credential, you should be able to demonstrate that you’re in this country legally.

Maine is the only state in New England that gives illegal aliens a driver’s license. In fact, Maine is just one of six states in the entire country that sanctions the practice.

It must end.

Maine cannot remain an island apart from the rest of our region and most of the country. It’s not acceptable, and we should have taken action before now to end the practice.

The issues around Maine’s driver’s license have attracted a lot of attention due to the national debate about REAL ID and Maine’s fight against the program.

Maine will not comply with the parts of REAL ID that our State finds objectionable.

The changes in driver’s license rules I’ve proposed won’t create a “national ID card,” and won’t be sending information about our State’s legal drivers to any national databases.

Just like we do now, we will safeguard the security of drivers’ personal information, and we will fight any effort to turn our State credentials into a national ID card.

The Homeland Security Department was absolutely right when it pointed out the gaps in Maine’s current driver’s license law.

If Mainer’s want their driver’s licenses to be accepted by federal agencies, including the screeners at airports, then we must make sure they are more secure and limit who is eligible to receive them.

Maine’s laws are too lax around driver’s licenses. Right now we’re giving our credentials to people who shouldn’t have them and that has to stop.

As I said before Maine is a welcoming place to live and visit. We don’t discriminate against folks regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or place of birth.

But it is absolutely appropriate to limit who qualifies for a driver’s license. If you want a Maine driver’s license, then you should live in Maine and you should be here legally.

That’s not too much to ask.

Thank you.

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Securing State Driver's Licenses

Health Care

April 19, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

When we talk about health care in the United States, there are two different conversations going on.

There’s the debate that rages in the hall of the State House and on the editorial pages. It’s about numbers and actuaries and growth rates.

And then there’s conversation taking place around dinner tables, in line at the grocery store or on front porches in every corner of the state where people are fighting hard to hang on to health care for themselves and their families.

They can’t change jobs, they can’t start a new business or retire early because they’re worried about their health care and whether they’ll be able to pay for it and their medicines.

Meanwhile, fewer companies are offering health care coverage to their workers and most are trying to have their workers pay more than they are paying now.

And hardworking people just can’t afford to see the doctor or buy prescription medicine for their children.

That’s the real conversation about health care, and it’s the one I hear when I get away from the Augusta.

People come to me and tell me their stories. They tell me about strain that the uncertainty causes. And they ask for a real solution – not a thirty second political sound byte.

So that was why I was proud this week that the Maine Legislature took a bold step to a real solution for health care coverage, making it more affordable and to protect the coverage of 18,000 working families and small businesses who have coverage today, who can now be sure that they will be able to keep it.

The Legislature passed it and I signed it into law that strengthens the State’s DirigoChoice health insurance program.

It helps more than 700 small businesses, working families, afford health care coverage for themselves and their workers.

It isn’t welfare or a handout. These people are working and don’t qualify for a government program like Medicaid or any other types of programs. This is a program that helps people become more secure in their jobs and in their health.

The program has become unnecessarily controversial. Part of that had to do with the way it was paid for.

When we started the Dirigo Health Program, we relied upon funding from something called the Savings Offset Payment.

Basically, the program was funded by the savings it created in the health care system. And it worked. Dirigo saved millions in health care spending.

But the complicated formula was difficult to understand. It made an easy target for those who would leave working men and women on their own to fend for themselves.

This week we replaced it with something much simpler, and more straight-forward.

The Legislature came up with an assessment on the fees on soda, beer and wine.

I found that a reasonable approach and a path forward.

Now it wasn’t my first choice to use beer and wine to fund this program. I think tobacco taxes are good public policy. Cigarettes kill people, and we should be as aggressive as possible in discouraging smoking.

But the compromise was struck, a majority in the Legislature supported the approach, and it came down to a choice of being able to either keep 18,000 Mainers having affordable health care for them and their families, or not.

I signed the law, it was passed. The new tools are available.

Also, to reduce the insurance rates for individuals and to be able to promote aggressively small businesses and self-employed being part of this health care initiative.

And a new pilot program for young people, 30-and-younger, to be able to offer them more affordable health insurance products.

With this reform, more of them will be able to get coverage. That’s good for individuals, it’s good for all us and hopefully it will help to drive down the cost increases of premiums for everyone.

Among the professional thinkers and talkers and lobbyists, health care is not just another issue, it’s good for politics and it’s good for profits. They don’t like Dirigo, and they’re not shy about saying it.

But for working men and women and small businesses and self-employed, Dirigo is a lot more than a political argument.

It’s like Bill Keleher and his employee Rebecca Boulanger say about Dirigo. Bill’s a business owner – runs a company called Micro Technologies and Rebecca Boulanger works for him. She used to pay $7,000 a year to cover herself and her two children while she was at work. Now she pays about $4,500 a year. Bill Keleher, the business owner in Richmond, said that he found Dirigo to be a tremendous help to his company.

So, these are business people, these are working people, these are people who want to be able to provide for themselves and their families. And, you cannot have a healthy economy if you don’t have healthy people and people working worrying about their children and their health care coverage.

That’s what this Legislature passed and that’s what I signed into law this week. I look forward to talking with you on this matter as we move forward and begin to aggressively promote it amongst small businesses and the self-employed.

Thank you very much and have a great weekend.

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Health Care

Session Wrap-Up

April 26, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Last week the 123rd Legislature concluded their business. This, the second of the two-year session, usually dubbed the “short session.”

But despite that description, it’s been a session filled with long and difficult debates over issues that impact all Mainers today and into the future.

Much has been accomplished in just four months.

The Legislature deserves a lot of credit for tackling complicated issues such as transportation infrastructure, health insurance reform, continuing the education consolidation of administration, identification security on our drivers’ licenses, renewable energy and addressing a near-$200 million budget shortfall.

They accomplished an amazing amount of work in a short amount of time, doing such a good job that it seems that we might want to consider making every session a short one.

Despite the successes this Legislature achieved, many of them left Augusta tired and frustrated. The end of the Legislative session is always tough, even during the best of times.

And we certainly are not in the best of times.

We face a difficult national economy on the midst of a recession and hopefully coming out. Hardworking Maine families are having a tough time making ends meet. Our challenge was to balance the budget during the national recession and without help from Washington and by doing this, making some hard choices.

We realized that much like a business, much like a family, we have to make changes now to be able to finance the programs that were established earlier.

The Legislature did not turn away from those circumstances and met the challenges head on.

Together, we balanced one of the most difficult budgets I have seen in my time in Augusta.

By bringing State spending in line with our revenues, we restructured government administration to make it smaller, more efficient and taken major steps toward improving our financial position in the future.

We brought industry and environmentalists together to protect public health and safeguard our natural resources.

We took impressive steps toward securing Maine’s energy independence and promoting clean, renewable sources of energy. I want us to do everything we can to keep our energy dollars in our own pockets and to create new jobs in the energy service sector.

We protected children from toxic chemicals, lead and secondhand smoke.

By containing rising costs of insurance and reforming DirigoChoice funding, we continue to make insurance more affordable and to work to contain rising health care costs.

We took steps to improve services for Maine veterans. By creating a veterans campus in Bangor we will have available for our veterans a one-stop-shop to access services, information and the state and federal programs that are available to them. They’ll be able to earn access a lot easier.

Back in August, I started talking about an idea to create a unified corrections system. Needless to say, there were a few skeptics. But because of all the varied interests getting together to do the hard work – I want to compliment our sheriffs, our county commissioners, our towns and cities throughout the State and our State Representatives and Senators -- they came up with a plan that won overwhelming approval in the House and Senate.

The entire state will benefit from a better, more efficient system that can save property tax money and do a better job of taking care of the people in our care.

We were also able to raise the minimum wage, making sure that Mainers are rewarded for the hard work they do.

Though the debate was long and sometimes divided, the Legislature came together in the last days of this session to eliminate barriers to school reorganization and gave communities the tools they need to move forward.

We updated our driving license requirements, ensuring that only Maine residents can access identification issued by the State. Securing our state licenses while safeguarding personal information helps protect all Mainers.

And we made significant new investments in our roads, rails and bridges. We know that there’s much work waiting to be done, but the Legislature’s actions have put many of those projects on a faster track.

This Legislature has been creating jobs, protecting our infrastructure and making sure that we can efficiently move people and goods.

I am proud of what has been accomplished.

When there were disagreements, the Legislature put the people of Maine first, and proved that when we work together, we can achieve great things for our state.

We are at an important time in our State’s history and we have the right people and the right abundant natural resources and a workforce second to none.

I’d particularly like to thank Senate President Beth Edmonds, who has been wonderful to work with as the leader of the State Senate; and Speaker of the House Glenn Cummings for providing the leadership in both the House and Senate to make this session one of the most productive Legislative sessions that I have been a part of.

I want to say thank you for your service and I look forward to working with you in the future.

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Session Wrap-Up

Aroostook County Flooding

May 3, 2008

Today I’m going to talk about the flooding in Aroostook County.

But as I do, I’m often reminded by the people of Aroostook County how self-sufficient and resilient they are.

And as a matter of fact, when I visited there earlier this year, they had just undergone a record snowfall. And they had said to me in a tired, exhausted expression, they’ve got all the snow in the State of Maine and they’re not sharing it with anybody.

When you want to know about how to conduct yourself, or to be able to look and see how families are being raised and neighbors treat each other, Aroostook County has always been the model for best practices.

When you talk about the St. John Valley and you talk about Northern Maine and Aroostook County, we know that things that flow from there always shine brightly throughout the rest of the State.

So, between the combination of snow and heavy downfalls of rain this week, The County has got a situation which is dangerous at the St. John, Fish and Allagash Rivers.

Days after the rain stopped, the waters continued to rise, and snow melted and the streams delivered millions of gallons of water to already swollen rivers.

The people of Aroostook County have been called upon to shoulder a heavy load this year.

As I mentioned, The County was rocked with a snow storm that dropped 17 inches of snow on Fort Kent in a three-day period. More than 40 roads were closed or restricted to a single travel lane.

On March 21 alone, high winds, blowing snow and dangerous travels conditions caused havoc. Police responded to more than 60 accidents in a single day.

The storm took a serious toll on the economy. The shopping mall in Presque Isle reported a $1 million loss in business due to the storm. And trucking companies lost two days of work, and a farm in Garfield lost 20 percent of its beef herd.

In total, more than 185 inches of snow fell this year. That’s about 15 and a half feet.

It’s been a long, hard winter.

And now the spring rains are coming.

At this point, we’re still evaluating how much damage has been inflicted by last week’s rain.

But on Tuesday night, I declared a state of emergency for Aroostook County, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency has been coordinating the response with local officials.

In preparation for the flooding, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife moved watercraft and personnel to Aroostook from other parts of the state to ensure there were enough people on the ground capable of doing water rescues and protecting public safety.

MEMA has coordinated with the Red Cross to make sure shelters were available for people who needed to evacuate. Most people, however, sought help from friends and family.

It’s always difficult to make a decision to order an evacuation, but the rapidly changing circumstances on the ground demand police, fire and emergency crews have the authority to protect lives.

And I have to say, I even heard stories when I visited of the Boy Scouts working with the Fire Department, working with the Police Department, working with the County EMA people. I was so proud they got their arms around it as a community and they worked together so well.

But our utmost responsibility in state government is to protect the public health, safety and welfare.

In that, we all have a job to do. A lot of bad situations can be avoided by making good decisions. I want everyone to be careful and be safe.

Maine is lucky to have on the ground an experienced emergency response team and I can’t thank Vern Ouellette and his deputy director Darren Woods and their team of volunteers and supporters who have done a tremendous job of taking care of their communities.

We would have never been able to get people to safety had Vern and his team not been there, so our hat goes off to them.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has been an incredible resource. More than 30 wardens responded creatively and bravely to a crisis. They put to use frond-end loaders, farm tractors and multiple boats and aircraft to make sure people were safely evacuated.

And speaking of helicopters and safety, we had the rangers that were there, the Department of Conservation. They just did a wonderful job as we were able to scout out Fort Kent and the area around the St. John Valley to see where we needed to plug holes and get resources to those affected areas.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency, under the capable leadership of Rob McAleer, every department in State government working in unison together with Maine Emergency Management Agency, are doing what is necessary – and will keep doing what is necessary - to not only respond to the crisis, but help the community and the region to be able to recover from the crisis.

Mainer’s are tough, and we won’t usually let a little bad weather stand in our way – as my mother used to say, “We’re not going to melt.” But at the same time, between the rain and the snow this winter in particular, it’s been a hard one. But it’s one in which we’re going to come out of it better than when we went into it and the entire state stands ready to help Northern Maine rebuild.

Thank you, be safe and have a good weekend.

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Aroostook County Flooding

Mother's Day

May 10, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Great leaders throughout the ages – from Aristotle to Napoleon and George Washington and Abraham Lincoln – have given credit where it’s most deserved: To our mothers.

Washington said: “All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”

Lincoln echoed that same sentiment and said, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”

For almost a hundred years, the second Sunday of May has been designated Mother’s Day in the United States.

It’s fitting that this year it also coincides with graduation for six of the seven University of Maine campuses.

Speaking as a parent, I can think of few gifts that will make me as proud as when my son graduates from college.

But I also know as someone who returned to college as a non-traditional student to earn my degree, most of us share credit for graduation with our parents.

I couldn’t have done it without the support – and prodding – of my mother and father.

And I believe most of the students graduating today would say the same thing.

Everyday, mothers across this State and nation go to work trying to make life better for their children and for their neighbors. They are the bedrock of our families and our communities, and give of themselves in ways great and small.

They have earned our love and respect everyday of the year, but it is fitting that we have put aside one special Sunday to loudly say “thank you for all that you do.”

There is no card worthy of the work, and respect that I have for mothers, other than to be able to say as Governor of the State of Maine, “Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you. Thank you for what you’re doing for our families in our community, our State and our nation. Without you, nothing else is possible.”

The world recognized Mother’s Day back in 1910 as “Mother’s Friendship Day” in West Virginia.

But since that time, those old limitations no longer apply. Women now serve in ways once reserved just for men.

For little girls growing up today, every dream is in reach.

And at the same time, none of that changes that special bond between mother and child.

When I think of my own mother, I remember her strength and determination and absolute commitment to her family, and especially her eight children.

She taught me and my seven brothers and sisters the importance of family and community. She showed us how to stand up for what we believe, and to face adversity without complaint.

She would often remind me when I was serving as a Congressman, she would say, “John, don’t complain about it. You ran for it.”

At the same time, when support and shouldering of responsibilities was necessary, she was the first one to make sure that I didn’t stand alone.

So, every child deserves the blessing of a loving mother. It is the foundation for so much of what we become as we grow older.

We know without a doubt that children with involved parents will do better in school.

And we know that the stability of home translates into stability away from home.

For many children, difficult family lives leaves them exposed to a harsh and dangerous world. Luckily, we have loving and committed foster families who willingly open their lives to help children in need.

This weekend, I want to say congratulations to all the mothers’ sons and all the mothers’ daughters who are graduating from college.

And I want to say happy Mother’s Day to the women who helped make it possible.

You deserve our love and gratitude and respect all year.

Thank you – and especially to the First Lady, thank you - and have a great Mother’s Day.

Thank you.

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Mother's Day

Tourism and Maine

May 17, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Whenever I travel on State business, I find that folks around the country and around the world have a special fondness for Maine.

Whether it’s our great skiing, ocean and beaches, world-class fishing and snowmobiling, the State’s natural beauty or our family-friendly attractions, people are attracted to Maine because we have so much to offer.

I lived away for eight years while I was serving in Congress, but my heart was never far from home. To me, we have everything right here, and that’s why I’m committed to protecting the things and places that make Maine special.

But I’m also committing to make sure that we spread the word.

On Monday, I signed a proclamation naming May 11 through May 18 as Tourism Week in Maine.

Tourism is one of the most important economic engines driving our State. The industry contributes more than $10 billion every year to Maine’s economy, and helps to create jobs for more than 140,000 people.

It’s our largest industry and is fundamental to the economic health of our State.

Maine is an incredible four-season destination for tourists and travelers and adventure seekers. This time of year, there’s an amazing opportunity for whitewater rafting enthusiasts on the Dead, Kennebec and Penobscot rivers.

Hurtling down Class 4 and Class 5 Rapids isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But for those who like an exciting and challenging run, Maine has plenty of opportunities.

The Penobscot Narrows Observatory opened this month.

It’s located at the top of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. The observatory gives visitors and incredible view of the Penobscot River and Penobscot Bay.

But the views also come with a built in history lesson at Fort Knox, Maine’s largest historic fort. The fort was built in the mid-18 hundreds on the river’s narrows to protect the valley from naval attack. Troops were stationed there during both the Civil and Spanish American Wars.

The new bridge and the old fort show the very best of engineering from today and yesterday. It’s a great place to visit - ideal for a day-trip with the family from just about every place in the State of Maine.

In a couple of weeks on June 1, Portland will host its annual Old Port Festival. It’s a great event for families and adults. There’s live music, great food and activities for people of all ages.

That’s just the beginning. The calendar is full of special events and annual affairs. A full list is available at www.visitmaine.com.

Maine has a great tradition of attracting travelers. For hundreds of years, Maine has been a destination.

Our traditional sporting camps are world-renowned for their hospitality and the quality of the activities they provide. Maine has some of the best fishing in the world. Whether you’re looking at a salt water trip along the coast or premium salmon and bass hotspots, Maine has it.

While most of us certainly recognize Maine’s special qualities, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to protect them.

This year, my administration worked with the Legislature to help protect Maine’s historic places and revitalize our downtowns.

I received a report this month from Maine’s Quality of Place Council, which recommends ways to protect, invest and enhance our State’s distinctive qualities.

Our Main Streets, natural beauty and long traditions are part of our calling cards to the world. We have to take care of them.

Maine is a large and diverse state, and sometimes its easy for us to take for granted what we have right here at home.

Whether your tastes are the mountains or the beaches, the rivers or lakes, amusement parks, historic parks or golf courses, you can find it right here at home.

Have a great weekend, and enjoy Maine.

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Memorial Day

May 24, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

On this Memorial Day Weekend, it’s important that we pause to pay tribute to the memory and sacrifice of military men and women who have died in service to the United States.

All across this great country, communities are rallying to honor the fallen heroes who gave their lives in defense of liberty, justice and freedom.

In far away places with names that will ring through history – places like Normandy and Que Son, the Chosin Reservoir and Kabul – military men and women have died while in service to America’s ideals.

They have left behind – generation after generation – grieving families and a grateful nation.

On Wednesday, I visited the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Augusta. A law passed last year created a new fund to provide American flags for veterans’ graves.

Veterans’ groups and other volunteers will begin placing the flags this weekend in observance of Memorial Day on Monday.

It’s a solemn memorial that reminds us that the cost of war is high.

Unfortunately, our fighting isn’t over.

As we celebrate Memorial Day this long weekend with family and friends, we should also remember the thousands of men and women who are serving at home and overseas.

Members of the Maine Army National Guard and the Air National Guard are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East and Europe.

We also learned this week that Bravo Company of the 172nd Infantry, which is based in Brewer, will be called on to be deployed in 2010. While the date seems far away, the preparations have already begun.

It’s my prayer that we can find peace before they go off to war.

Whether they are deployed on a combat mission or called upon during a natural disaster like the recent flooding in Aroostook County, I am inspired by the dedication, professionalism and commitment of our National Guard soldiers and airmen.

They endure hardships most of us could not - and would not suffer through separation from families and friends. And to the person, they do it without complaint and with pride.

During this time of war, I have talked to too many families who have lost a son, brother, father or friend in Iraq or Afghanistan.

And each death is a terrible loss.

In the past year, the small town of Lee, Maine, was touched twice by the tragedy of war.

On June 23, Sgt. Joel House was killed in Iraq and just five months later, Corporal Blair Emery was killed while serving in Iraq.

The people of Lee have paid a heavy price. But if there is comfort to be found in such difficult times, it is the way the community and those two families came together to support one another.

I will be thinking of them this weekend and all of those who have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Memorial Day, flags will be lowered around Maine until Noon, in honor and tribute to America’s fallen soldiers. Then the flags will be raised to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of our country’s war heroes.

As long as there is war or people who wish to harm the United States of America, Maine’s roll of honor will grow.

This weekend, it is our duty to honor the men and women who have served our country and those who continue to serve today.

We hold them and their families close to our hearts, and pray for their safe return home and an end to war.

Thank you.

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Memorial Day

Energy and Millinocket

May 31, 2008

Devastating energy prices have claimed another business in Maine.

We learned this week that Katahdin Paper will indefinitely close its mill in Millinocket.

Simply put, the company can’t afford the oil it relies on for its operation.

The closing of this mill is unacceptable. About 200 hardworking people are going to lose their jobs. And a town already hit by difficult times faces another hardship.

Frankly, I’m angry.

For too long, our country has been without a common sense national energy policy.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. With the direction of the White House, the federal government has mortgaged this country’s economic future to the oil companies who control much of the world’s oil supply.

I saw this problem back in 2003. We recognized it was time to make changes and that was when oil and gasoline were about $20 a barrel, not $120 a barrel. I created the Office of Energy Independence and Security because I wanted to create a laboratory which businesses and homeowners could take advantage of without the sense of urgency.

I was determined then, and I’m more determined now that we must end our reliance on costly foreign oil, and we must take greater control of our energy destiny.

The signs were clear this past winter: cheap oil is a thing of the past. First, it was the independent truckers that began to suffer, go out of business, as diesel prices set record after record after record.

Home heating oil prices have crippled family budgets, making it difficult for families to stay warm.

And the burden of high energy costs is making its way into every sector, driving food costs higher and higher.

It’s got to end.

In Maine, we are pursuing aggressively an alternative energy strategy. We passed a new law this year that will make it easier to develop wind power in the state. We have over $2 billion in wind power projects, both planned and those that are on the drawing boards.

My Wood-to-Energy Task Force is working as we speak to explore the potential of alternative energy creation from our forest resources.

We were the first – and perhaps the only – state that utilized renewable energy for all state buildings.

And this is important for businesses, large and small, and households.

We have programs available through Efficiency Maine, the Finance Authority of Maine, and Maine Housing to help businesses and families improve their energy efficiency.

And in April, we held the Governor’s Conference on Energy Efficiency, which brought together some of the sharpest minds in the country to help businesses better understand how they can reduce energy consumption and costs.

I am working with New Brunswick to end the death grip that our regional electricity grid has placed on Maine consumers and businesses by unnecessarily driving electric prices higher.

There is another way. These problems can be solved.

A partnership between the University of Maine and Red Shield Environmental in Old Town has developed a method to produce ethanol as part of the pulp-making process.

The innovation has the potential to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, provide a boost to our paper industry.

You know, oil companies are making record profits while working men and women are struggling to get by.

Every dollar we spend on oil and gas gets shipped out of state, to countries that rarely have our best interest at heart.

We must begin a serious transition. And that requires leadership at every level, especially at the federal level.

The federal government has got a very important role to play because this should be a national energy policy and it’s painfully obvious that our country cannot continue along our current path.

Maine will continue its aggressive pursuit of alternative sources of energy. We will support and expand our use of wind, wood, water and we are going to take our place as leaders in the production of clean renewable energy.

But while we wait for a new presidential administration and a smarter national energy policy, we are going to do every thing we can to help our people who have been hurt.

We took action to try to ease some of the burden on Maine truckers by reducing regulations and tax load on their industry. We have come to the aid of low-income families who need heating assistance.

And we are making every resource available to help Millinocket recover. We are fully engaged with Katahdin Paper, and we will do everything possible to help get this facility back up and running.

In the meantime, we are going to provide support to the workers harmed by this unfortunate decision. The Department of Labor and our rapid response team is ready to move in to help the workers.

And we will do every thing we can to help re-open this mill and put people back to work permanently.

The world is changing and we can’t be content to let our industries and people suffer while oil companies get rich and foreign powers undermine our economy.

Maine is moving forward. It’s time for the federal government to join the effort too.

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Energy and Millinocket

Budget Discipline

June 7, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

A crisis can often bring out the very best in people.

When there’s an emergency, people react.

Firefighters rush into burning buildings. Police face fugitives waiving guns and soldiers put themselves at risk to save others.

But not every crisis demands – or even allows – for such actions.

Maine right now is caught in the vice of a national energy price crisis. Gasoline has topped over $4 dollars a gallon in some parts of the State and is lingering just under that mark everywhere else.

The prices of a single-family home in the State have dropped more than 11 percent since last year, and the number of homes sold is down more than 23 percent.

And food prices related to energy costs keep climbing.

I don’t need to talk about the pressure being faced by Maine families. We see it every single day when they go to the grocery store or get gas for the family car.

It’s a real energy price crisis.

And it’s my concern that the U.S. economy will be slower to recover.

What we can do is put Maine on a better financial course and work to improve our financial footing so that we are better able to weather those national storms.

Maine has taken bold action, but it’s never going to compare to the bravery and heroics of firefighters, police officers and soldiers.

We have fundamentally altered the fabric of state government though.

We have reinvigorated K-12 education, we have consolidated administrations at all levels including county jails and state prisons, and we have restrained State spending.

Now, there has been plenty of opposition along the way and some folks are continuing to fight progress while trying to hold onto the past.

But in the end, Maine will have provided our children a better educational system, more efficient and effective corrections, and it will have a State government, county government and local government we can afford.

The work is not glamorous and it’s easy to say we haven’t gone far enough, that we have stopped short of our ultimate goals.

But the critics - they fall short of reality. Unlike the brave firefighter who rushes in on the spot, changing government doesn’t happen in a split-second without input from people.

It takes time to spread information, to talk and convince folks of the right course of action and then to ultimately make the changes.

Consider the State budget. In fiscal year 2009, the State will spend about $38 million less than it spent in 2008. Let me repeat that for you because I don’t know if you’ve heard that before. But, in fiscal year 2009, the State will spend about $38 million less than it spent in 2008. That’s an actual reduction in government spending.

It’s only the fourth time in 35 years that that’s happened.

Since taking office in 2003, the number of State workers has declined by more than 600 people.

We are making the hard choices and building a State government that taxpayers can afford.

But we’re doing it in a way that doesn’t jeopardize opportunity for our children and education and health care or the assets we need for economic development.

We have invested in innovation and research and development, cutting-edge technology that will create good-paying, private sector jobs.

We’re investing in roads and bridges and rails to make sure they’re safe and effective for moving people and goods around the State and around the world.

And we’re protecting our environment and special quality of place that sets Maine apart from the rest of the world.

Now, in the coming year, Maine faces an uncertain national economy. The revenue picture is foggy at best.

We know that we will have to cut more from the State budget next year, at a time when the need for government services is at its greatest.

It would be nice to be able to take that one decisive action – to wave a magic wand -- and to see immediate results.

But when it comes to streamlining State government, county government, local government, while protecting our ability to fulfill our core responsibilities, it’s just not that easy.

It takes a steady, consistent and determined effort.

This summer, my administration is continuing to look for innovative ideas for improving the efficiency of government at all levels.

The Natural Resource Agency Task Force began meeting this week. The group’s mission is to examine the five different State agencies charged with protecting Maine’s natural resources and look for ways to more efficiently protect those resources while reducing the administration.

We are also in the process of restructuring the Department of Economic and Community Development. The goal is to put those resources out of Augusta, into the local and regional level where they can do the most good.

And we are also examining the fine details of operations overall at the State, county and local level to see about uncovering more efficiencies, less administration and more taxpayer savings.

The national economy is uncertain, and there are difficult budget times ahead. But the course we set six years ago has made us better able to deal with today’s trouble.

There’s hard work left to do, and my administration is prepared to do it.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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Budget Discipline

Through to the Other Side

June 14, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

I know it’s a beautiful, sunny day and temperatures are climbing to summer heights already. It’s unusual to be thinking about Maine’s long winter season and our heating needs.

But if our country’s current energy crisis has shown us anything, we can not afford to take the short view. We must begin looking ahead and preparing now.

This week, the average price for heating oil in Maine hit $4.60 a gallon. That’s the average. In a lot of places, the price has spiked to $4.80.

Nobody can predict for certain what the cost will look like next winter, but we can’t wait to find out.

Here’s what’s for certain: We will ensure that we don’t allow our people to be put into danger because they can’t afford heating oil for their houses. We’ll do what’s necessary to protect public safety and welfare.

That’s our top priority, but it’s not our only one.

Everyone is feeling the energy pinch. It’s created a real hardship for Maine businesses and hard working families.

I have already convened a pre-emergency task force to make sure we are prepared now, and to put us in a position to identify and enact solutions now.

My goal is to put Maine on the path to a more secure and independent energy future.

But we all must be more proactive and take steps to reduce our dependence on costly foreign oil and protect our economy from price spikes beyond our control.

Individually, we have the power to make those changes and reduce our reliance on oil and gas.

We can make our houses and businesses more energy efficient.

Already, we have put into place innovative programs to help homeowners, truck drivers, businesses and families reduce their energy consumption.

The Maine State Housing Authority has low-interest loans at 3.5 percent, up to $30,000, to make their homes weatherized, more energy efficient, or to switch to more efficient and less-costly fuels.

The Finance Authority of Maine can help businesses improve their energy efficiency, and Efficiency Maine at the Public Utilities Commission can help you reduce your electricity consumption.

Please contact www.maine.gov, call my office at 287-3531. 287-3531. Please start to take charge. Individually we can, and have the power to make changes to reduce our reliance on oil and gas and we can make our houses and businesses more energy efficient.

And at the same time, we know that we need leadership at the national level, but we can’t wait for relief to come to us; we must grab hold of our own destiny.

Our energy situation is serious, but it is not without hope.

There are things we can do as a State, and there are things we can do individually.

Maine has abundant natural resources, and we must put them to work. Maine’s early economy was built from our woods, and rivers and seas.

And just this week I was with Horizon Energy Company in Presque Isle, Maine, where they are proposing $1.2 billion of wind power projects and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

We hope to be able to see more wind power, more hydro and tidal, more wood, and more renewable energy resources applied to our energy grid.

We are going to begin to return to our roots, in applying new technologies to harness our natural resources in a way that is efficient, clean and renewable.

And we are going to be aggressive and innovative as we seek ways to replace fossil fuels and develop these home-grown sources of energy.

But like the entire country, Maine is hurting from high energy prices. We can find our way through to the other side of this crisis. And when we do, we’ll have more energy security, a cleaner environment and a stronger economy.

Thank you all, and especially to those dads out there, Happy Father’s Day. And all of you, have a very good weekend.

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Through to the Other Side

Kids Count

June 21, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Maine does a good job of taking care of our children.

It’s easy to take for granted the safe environment our State provides for most kids.

People move to Maine to raise families and anyone who grew up here, like I did, knows firsthand all that the State has to offer.

During these difficult economic times, we do a good job of putting our children at the top of our priorities list.

Last week, the Annie Casey Foundation released its annual Kids Count Data Book, and the numbers show that Maine is a good place for children.

Out of 10 categories, Maine places in the Top 10 in four areas and overall our State is ranked 16th in the country for well-being of our children and teen-agers.

We rank second in terms of the number of idle teens and second in the nation for fewest high school dropouts. Our state is also 6th for fewest births to teenage mothers.

Teen-agers face challenges in every state. It’s a time when their minds and bodies aren’t always developing at the same rate, which can cause serious trouble.

We take good care of our teens.

We do a good job of taking care of expectant mothers, with the 10th lowest rate of premature infants, and we rank 12th for deaths among children 14 and younger.

Our State works hard to make sure our kids have the tools they need to be successful and the support they need to stay out of trouble.

But we also do a good job when they stray from the straight and narrow.

Maine’s juvenile justice system is recognized this year for the way we work to rehabilitate young offenders and keep them out of jail.

In an essay that accompanies the rankings, the Kids Count researchers found that most states have blurred the boundaries between adult and juveniles in the corrections systems.

In Maine, we have successfully continued to emphasize alternatives to prison for young offenders and instead focus on programs that provide community service, foster care and substance abuse treatment.

As a result, Maine’s recidivism rate for juveniles, which is going back to prison, is half of the national average.

So, we do a better job of keeping our kids out of prison and helping them to rebuild their lives in a positive way.

I am proud of the measures in which Maine performs well, but I also see places that we must improve.

Maine has too many children living in poverty and too many parents who lack full-time employment.

The slowing national economy has taken its toll on Maine, as it has on all the other states, and a lot of families are struggling. And when families struggle, kids struggle.

I’ve always said the best social service program is a good job and the best social service department is the family.

But I firmly believe the best thing we can do for our children and families is to protect the jobs we have and to make sure we are making the critical investments that will help the private sector create the good jobs of the future.

Right now in Millinocket, Maine, Katahdin Paper is facing a shutdown. The mill is reliant on oil and high prices have put the operation in jeopardy.

We are working everyday to find the best way to keep the mill open and to protect the more than 200 people who work there.

And as a state we are pursuing an aggressive energy policy that will reduce our dependence on costly foreign oil and help to protect our economy from these price crises.

If we want to create good-paying jobs with benefits, we also have to make critical investments in innovation, education and transportation.

And in the last two years, we have made major strides. Despite a difficult national economy, we have invested in K-12 education, our community college system was established and is flourishing, our universities have been bolstered and supported with research and development initiatives.

We are leading the nation in the number of jobs created from that private sector research and development spurred by the university initiatives.

Those efforts are going to pay dividends in the years to come, creating new jobs and new prosperity.

While we’ve done a good job of taking care of our children, there’s also room to improve and by keeping our eye on the future, we can make sure that our children have the opportunities for a quality education and a fulfilling career right here at home.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Kids Count

Economic Development

June 28, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this week, I attended an event for a great Maine company.

Hodgdon Yachts opened a new facility in Richmond, Maine that is going to allow the company to expand its business and create 35 new jobs within the next two years.

Hodgdon -- an excellent example of a traditional Maine business that is adapting to successfully competing in the global marketplace.

Boatbuilding became an important industry very early in Maine’s history, even well before we were a State. Through the years, the industry has seen countless changes and weathered many storms.

As shipbuilding transitioned from the wood frames to ironclads, Maine fell behind as new technologies replaced older, tried-and-true methods of construction.

Today, just the opposite is happening. Boatbuilding in Maine is a growing economic cluster of activity that demonstrates how members of an industry can cooperate for the mutual benefit of all.

Boatbuilders are capitalizing on these new technologies, developed cooperatively with the University of Maine System, cutting-edge composite materials bringing new strength and flexibility to the age-old craft of boatbuilding.

Maine has a reputation for craftsmanship, durability and reliability, honesty and integrity when it comes to our Maritime history.

Whether it’s boatbuilding like Hinckley, Hodgdon or Sabre, or our proud heritage at Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine has a reputation that is quickly spreading around the world.

But the growth of our boatbuilding industry hasn’t happened by accident.

It has taken dedicated and forward-thinking entrepreneurs who have grown family businesses into internationally recognized icons for luxury and quality.

It has taken the support of communities and voters who have recognized the importance of investing in research and development and innovation to create private sector job growth.

And it has taken an aggressive economic development effort to assure that Maine maintains a competitive business environment and a level playing field.

Maine’s Pine Tree Economic Development Zone program has made a difference for Hodgdon Yachts and more than 185 other Maine businesses.

I first established Pine Tree Zones back in 2003 to help spur economic development and quality job creation. Initially, the program was targeted in areas of the State where unemployment was higher than average and wages were lower than average.

In 2007, we expanded the program to make it more widely accessible – statewide.

All told, the program has helped to grow more than 5,800 new jobs, which pay better than average and include access to health insurance and retirement benefits.

Also this week, I had the opportunity to visit a new Bowdoinham company in one of Maine’s bedrock industries – agriculture.

Locally Known -- New England’s first large-scale organic farm and processing center.

Organic farming has grown tremendously in Maine during the last 20 years. In 1987, Maine just had 21 organic farms and that number has grown to about 350 in 2007.

Maine ranks first in New England in the production of food, first in agricultural sales, first in the world in the production of wild blueberries.

Maine has more than 7,100 farms. Most of them are family-owned, generation after generation. They account for more than $600 million in sales every year and add $2 billion a year to the state’s economy.

With the support from Maine’s Department of Agriculture, new technologies and techniques, Locally Known will help pioneer new opportunities for Maine farmers.

When it comes to economic development, we know in Maine that we can’t abandon our traditional strengths. It’s more important to make sure that we’re building off our assets.

So by supporting boatbuilding, agriculture and our forest products industry, we can help them become more competitive and grow in new directions, creating good-paying jobs along the way.

Whether it’s the Pine Tree Economic Development Zone Program, community development block grants or bonds to jump start innovation and research and development for private sector company job growth, Maine has the plan to create jobs, grow our economy and support our core industries, and make sure that our people get more education and training to raise their standards and the opportunities for better paying jobs and benefits for them.

So I’m proud of our farmers and boatbuilders and people here in the State of Maine. I’m proud of the scholars and entrepreneurs who are driving innovation and helping to create new jobs.

I wish you all a very nice weekend and thank you for this opportunity.

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4th of July

July 5, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This weekend our country celebrates Independence Day.

All across Maine, where the first rays of sun shine on our great nation, family and friends will join together for patriotic gatherings.

This is a time to take pride in our heritage - how far we have come, and to share our hopes for the future.

Recalling our history – both the good times and bad – fortifies our resolve as a nation.

America is unique for many reasons, most importantly for our continued adherence to the values from which our nation was born.

In Philadelphia, in 1776, then-colonists put on paper what was in the hearts of those who sought to be free; who defined freedom and liberty and then fought to achieve these goals. They succeeded and lit the path for future generations to follow.

But the job was not done with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, marking the end of the War for Independence. It continues to this day.

Americans in 1776 and 2008 know that our liberty requires responsibility and sacrifice.

Americans have fought for freedom here and across the globe.

Our success has not come easy. The cost to protect liberty, justice and equality for all is great.

Lives have been lost on the battlefield; our people have struggled through war and economic crises. During the times of greatest hardship, American people come together as one because we have a common cause and a dream for our children and their future.

Our country has faced enormous challenges, and every time we have come out stronger.

We continue this struggle today. It’s not just a fight on the battlefield, but in the policies we champion, and in the relationships we foster in our communities.

Equality and liberty are sometimes at odds. We have to use the tools our Forefathers gave us. Our actions will be guided with the wisdom gained from their example, combined with those essential values that define us and the courage that demands we persevere. This is our national character.

We need to marshal our strength to fight injustice and inequality where it exists.

For this is our shared destiny, first expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

As a testament to all of those who have and continue to represent - of the many things that we as Americans can and should take most pride in – the United States remains a beacon to all other nations that seek to be free. America continues to be the model for other peoples struggling for opportunity.

The United States defines true liberty, where every baby born in America can grow up to be President.

There is no country on this earth before or now that has offered its citizens such a breadth of opportunity, and commanded such a leadership role in the world.

So today, we remember those who have dedicated themselves to preservation of our most cherished values, and we strive to continue the legacy they have bestowed upon us.

We honor our American heroes’ memories best by doing our part each and every day to work within our families and communities to reaffirm these values.

Working together, there is nothing we cannot overcome. I’ve seen it take hold in our darkest days, during the Ice Storm of 1998, during the tragedies of 9/11 and during the most recent floods in Aroostook County that have devastated homes and businesses.

For this weekend, this Independence Day, we look to a bright future.

We also welcome visitors who have come to Maine to enjoy our renowned natural resources, especially our friendly, down-to-earth residents and cozy communities.

We cherish this time with family and friends and we join with others in our communities for the festivals, celebrating our shared history, heritage and dreams.

America will continue to be the light that guides the world a better and more peaceful day in the future.

Thank you and happy Fourth of July.

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4th of July

Unclaimed Stimulus

July 19, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Mainers all across the State have already started receiving stimulus checks from the federal government.

In an effort to reduce the effects of a slowing economy, the Congress and the President passed a stimulus package meant to put money into the pockets of most Americans.

The amounts of the checks are different, depending upon each person’s financial situation, but most Mainers are eligible.

Unfortunately, as many as 31,000 Mainers who are eligible for a $300 check or more have not filed.

All told, according to AARP Maine estimates, more than $9 million of available money is sitting in the federal treasury going unclaimed by State of Maine folks.

Checks began arriving earlier this spring for families who filed a 2007 federal tax return.

But for folks who do not have the tax liability and are not required to file a tax return, the checks aren’t automatic. Those individuals with at least $3,000 of income must file a 1040A tax form to get the stimulus checks.

The form is simple, easy to fill out and understand. They aren’t complicated and don’t require the work generally associated with tax forms.

It’s easy, and there are people ready to help. AARP Maine and the Maine Revenue Service, and even the IRS are ready to assist people who need a little help.

For those with access to a computer, you can go to the Web site www.aarp.org. The Web site has a simple form that you can print out and send in.

It’s straight forward. There are only 10 questions that are easy to answer. You’ll need your Social Security number, address and your income for 2007.

It’s hard to get easier than that.

The national economy is hurting. The high cost of gasoline and oil are hitting every household.

The stimulus checks can help families make ends meet and offset the high cost of fuel. The extra money is especially important for senior citizens and Mainers living on a fixed income. Every little bit helps and it can make a real difference.

In addition to the help for individual families, the stimulus checks can help strengthen Maine’s economy.

There’s just no good reason for folks to miss out on $300 or more.

I hope everyone who hears this will help me to spread the word.

We all need to talk to our friends and families and neighbors and make sure they know about the stimulus program and understand how to get those checks.

Reach out to people at church or work, or to folks you know who might be struggling. Let them know that there might be some extra help.

No one would want to throw away $300, especially during these challenging times.

Together we can make a difference, and we can make sure people get the money they are entitled to receive.

So for help, you can go to the AARP Web site, www.aarp.org, or call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-0582, extension 377. Or call the local Area Agency on Aging at 1-877-353-3771 for assistance.

The deadline for claiming your economic stimulus check is October 15, so time is passing. And I don’t want anyone to miss out.

Every little bit can help. So spread the word. People, don’t be shy about this. This money approved by Congress to help families and help the economy. But it is only going to reach its full potential if we make sure that every eligible person gets his or her check.

It will take a community effort to make sure we reach everyone with this important message. I know Mainers take care of one another. This is a great opportunity to spread the word about a program that can help families get by during a tough time.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Unclaimed Stimulus

Preparing for Winter

July 26, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week I received a report from a special task force, which was formed to develop ideas on how Maine could best reduce the impact of high energy prices this winter.

Maine faces a dangerous winter.

With the price of heating oil already above $4.60 a gallon -- higher in some places -- many families will face a tough winter season, filled with difficult choices.

The seven short-term recommendations put forth this week will help us to be better prepared, and will help to keep Mainers safe and secure this winter.

Among the recommendations are to:

  • Create a single point of entry for Mainers seeking information about energy programs and services;

  • Expand weatherization of Maine residences;

  • Increase energy audits of homes and businesses;

  • Provide people statewide education and training or what they can do to prepare for the upcoming winter;

  • Expanding energy efficiency financing tools for hospitals, schools, nursing homes, municipalities, social service agencies and businesses;

  • Increasing transportation options, reducing fuel consumption;

  • Creating local teams that will help keep people safe, secure and warm in their homes.

Of the ideas, I am particularly committed to the first.

We have already begun building the system that will allow someone who calls the State’s 2-1-1 information line to be immediately connected with a specialist who can help them get the energy information they need.

Included in this one-stop-shopping approach to energy assistance will be a tracking system that will make sure people get answers quickly.

Once implemented, folks who apply for an energy efficiency loan or a fuel assistance request will have their application processed within 30 days.

And I will also work to develop an action plan moving forward based on the work of the Task Force.

It’s gratifying that so many people – with so much expertise – volunteered their time to help develop the report. The Task Force has done a tremendous amount of work in a very short time.

In addition to the recommendations of the Task Force there were subcommittees and included in those subcommittee reports was a great amount of information and some bold ideas.

I am going to study those reports closely as we continue to move toward a more secure energy future for Maine.

In the long-term, Maine must reduce its consumption – as the country must reduce its consumption -- of oil, and we must develop alternative energy resources. And we must also take the necessary steps to reduce our dependency on oil and gasoline.

Already, much is been done to conserve energy and to help Mainer’s reduce their consumption.

The State is leading by example in the fact that we have reduced the number of miles state workers travel each year.

We’ve increased the number of hybrid vehicles in the State fleet to more than 80.

And we’ve raised the average fuel economy of State cars and trucks to almost 28 miles per gallon.

By adding biodiesel to the fuel mix for State buildings, we’re saving about 13,000 gallons of Number 2 heating oil every year. And in the first three years of my administration, we have saved over 143,000 gallons of heating fuel through investment and conservation.

Maine purchases 100 percent of its electricity for State buildings from renewable energy resources, which makes us unique among the States.

I know that there’s a lot of anxiety about oil prices and I share that frustration and anxiety. And I know that expectations of government solutions are high.

But there is only so much government can do. There’s no magic pile of money we can tap to pay everyone’s oil bill, and we can’t force prices to drop.

But what we can do is to offer a helping hand to the poorest amongst us, empowering people to improve their own situations, and to make sure the programs we have are used effectively and efficiently, and prepare in case there’s a real emergency.

Maine has an abundant natural resource base that can reduce our dependency on costly foreign oil. We must continue to grow our wind power industry, support advancements in tidal, solar and wood energy and biofuels.

We have survived energy crunches in the past, and we will survive this one.

It is my hope that this will lead the country toward a path of energy independence.

The transition will take time. But we can do it.

Maine can’t wait to tackle this problem. We have to begin working today and while it’s still warm outside, we can be better prepared when cold weather arrives.

I know the spirit of Maine, and I know what our people are capable of.

Together, taking care of our neighbors and ourselves, we will get through this difficult winter ahead.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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Preparing for Winter

Investing for Today and Tomorrow

August 2, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

The spring of 2007 seems like a long time ago, but some of the decisions made by the Legislature and validated by you, the Maine voters are paying dividends for communities across the State.

This week, my administration announced some of the investments being made as part of those bonds that were passed last year.

Acting with the best interest of Maine, more than two-thirds of the Legislature – Democrats and Republicans – coming together to support a $295 million investment package.

When asked, voters broadly agreed that it is worthwhile to make long-term investments in Maine’s economy and Maine’s people.

Already, highway bonds have been put to work improving the roads and bridges that carry our goods and people and connect our economy to markets across the country and around the world.

Already, the bonds are helping to make our water cleaner and helping our communities grow.

We’re better able to build schools, preserve important open space and natural resources, and protect those things that make Maine special.

This week we can add to the list of worthy projects.

As part of the bond package, voters approved $1.5 million for the Municipal Investment Trust Fund.

This week, communities began to see the results.

In Greenville, $350,000 will be used to revitalize the wharf and replace the existing boat launch with a new one that can handle two boats at a time.

In Biddeford, $350,000 will help to redevelop the Riverdam Mill into a combination of new businesses and mixed-income housing. The investment will help to restore part of Biddeford’s legacy, while creating new jobs and much needed housing.

A grant directed toward Brunswick will support the Maine Street Station, a vital transportation hub that will help open the mid-coast to expanded rail service that was approved earlier this year and provide an important link to ground transportation.

The investment will also allow for growth of new businesses and new homes along those lines and conveniently locate near mass transit.

In Bucksport, we’re assisting with the redevelopment of the historic Jed Prouty Tavern & Inn, and in Dover-Foxcroft we’re supporting the Center Theater to create economic sustainability in that region.

So, we are helping businesses grow and opportunities to be established next door.

In Bath and Rockland we are seeing the benefits from investments in new sidewalks and parking, improved lighting and better access to local attractions.

The Municipal Investment Trust Fund is helping communities make improvements that otherwise might not be possible.

The investments are creating new jobs and new opportunities for Maine people.

But more importantly, the projects demonstrate that Maine people understand the necessity of long-term capital strategic investments.

We’re helping to support a strong public-private partnership, at the same time filling needs for workforce housing, improved access to mass transit, increased public safety and enhanced natural resources.

These are the investments that will help Maine maintain its special qualities and character – the things we love best about our home.

Our unique downtowns, our environment, our open spaces, our heritage and our people.

The dollars that are invested today multiply many times over as communities see the benefits of increased economic activity and new jobs.

Too often, important programs like the Municipal Investment Trust Fund become entangled in politics.

It’s unnecessary and counterproductive. Fortunately, Maine voters have consistently shown that they understand the long-term benefits of strategic investments in our State.

In a few weeks, we’ll be announcing the recipients of the research and development grants approved by Maine voters.

Those awards will help to drive innovation in private sector companies growing private sector jobs, providing better opportunities – more opportunities – for Maine people.

Some of our State’s best minds have been competing for those grants that are going to help to turn their great ideas into businesses for opportunities for Maine workers.

So when I hear and see great things happening in Maine, I’m so encouraged, as all of you are.

I know it is Maine people, Maine entrepreneurs and forward-thinking community leaders leading the way toward a bright future.

So with these advances and working together, we can make sure that the future is bright for our children and grandchildren.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Investing for Today and Tomorrow

Tax Burden

August 9, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

If you want to get people going in Maine, one topic often stands out above the rest – and that’s taxes.

Maine has had a reputation as a high-tax state for a number of years, but the truth of the matter is a bit more complicated – and not nearly as bad as it has been made out to be.

I want to thank The Tax Foundation, a national think tank that promotes conservative tax policies. They have usually ranked Maine very high.

But this year they have modified the way that they measure state and local tax burden. And in their annual rankings of per capita state and local tax burden this year, they show a marked improvement in Maine in our national ranking when compared to other states.

Under the new formula, in 2005 according to The Tax Foundation, Maine ranked as the state with the fifth-highest per capita tax burden.

In 2008, Maine has improved to 15th.

Further, Maine’s per capita state and local tax rate is measured at 10 percent, while the average nationally is about 9.7 percent.

I’m gratified to see Maine’s relative position among the States improving in this important area because this is a calling card for business growth and development which provides job opportunities of good paying jobs and benefits for our citizens. This is very important in terms of being able to promote expansion of our job market and having economic development be a centerpiece of our Pine Tree Zone initiatives, of our caps on government spending, on our streamlining of administrations and school administrative districts and county jails.

All of that tough, hard work that many people have been doing in many areas is beginning to show progress and pay dividends.

The policies we have put into place have made a difference. Difficult choices necessary to restrain growth in spending have paid a dividend.

And we have held the line on broad-based taxes, we have driven government at every level to be more efficient and placed limitations on how quickly spending can grow and we need to do more.

But at the same time, we have got to be cautious about reading too much into group’s rankings, pro or con. They all have an agenda. They use the rankings as a way to advocate for the policies they support.

The Tax Foundation, to their credit, has been very open in discussing its methods it uses to determine the rankings, and was working on ways to improve them.

Until this year, as an example, they counted taxes paid by non-Maine residents as part of OUR tax burden.

So in other words, people who had homes here who lived in Massachusetts were counted against Maine’s tax burden, but those folks weren’t part of our population or our state’s income figures.

The mismatch artificially inflated Maine’s tax burden.

So The Tax Foundation made changes in the way it gauges the tax burden, including how it accounts for sales taxes paid by travelers.

The revised system can help repair the incorrect perception that Maine is the highest taxed state in the country.

In today’s political world, numbers can often become flexible, and conventional wisdom can replace the facts in the way that we are perceived.

Maine has work to do on lowering our tax burden. Let me repeat that – Maine has work to do on lowering our tax burden. But we have made progress.

That’s why we have fought to consolidate the administrations of schools and their School Administrative Districts from 152 to 80.

That’s why we have reduced the administrations of county jails.

And that’s why we have placed limits on spending by government at all levels.

And for the first time in recent State history, we are going to be spending less money in State government this fiscal year than we did last year.

So Maine is much closer to the national average and the middle of the pack on taxation than we were given credit for.

And rankings show that Maine has made progress, and that we are moving in the right direction.

These are the facts. These are the scorecards. And this is the information that Maine people need.

Hopefully, the new numbers will also change the tone of the debate.

Maine is on a steady course to grow our economy and improve our tax burden. And I will make sure that that work continues.

Thank you very much.

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Tax Burden

Moving Forward

August 16, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Friday, I was joined by members of the Legislature as I announced details of my plans to help Maine prepare for this winter.

During the last two weeks, we’ve finally seen gasoline and oil prices beginning to ease a little.

But prices are still too high and the strain is apparent on family budgets, businesses and our national economy.

And as we look toward winter, there has been a growing anxiety about how best to cope with the high cost of staying warm.

A few people have been calling for a special session of the Legislature. They want something to be done and they want it done as soon as possible.

But after considering a number of options, and consulting with experts on the front lines at Maine State Housing Authority, the Low Income Heating Assistance Program and my energy director, I believe that we can take aggressive action to prepare for winter without calling Legislators back to Augusta this summer.

A special session is expensive and it’s time consuming. It costs about $40,000 every day and there’s no guarantee that we can quickly pass good policy.

So I have worked to develop a strategy with consultations from the legislature and experts that will put state dollars to work immediately.

Maine State Housing Authority has identified almost $7 million that had been set aside for future projects that we can move forward and put to work today to weatherize more Maine homes and increase the support we can provide for families living on the economic edge.

We will train new teams of weatherization experts and invest an additional $2 million to weatherize homes between now and January. This project alone has the potential to save more than 412,000 gallons of heating oil, and this is in addition to the $6.5 million dollars that already been put to work making homes more energy secure.

I will establish an emergency heating fund, and we know that it’s during January and February – the times that are most likely to need those resources to help families facing a heating emergency – we will have already established that fund.

And I will set aside $1 million – on top of the million already set aside – by the Finance Authority of Maine to help businesses get loans for energy conservation projects.

And we are going to support local organizations that have been working tirelessly to organize and help their neighbors. It’s the old motto of “neighbors helping neighbors,” something that Mainers do better than anybody else.

This is the course of action that builds upon a range of programs that are already helping Mainers become more energy secure.

Maine State Housing has low-interest loans available for low- and middle-income families right now looking to weatherize their homes. Up to $30,000 per loan is available right now at below market rates of 3.95 percent.

People who are looking for information about existing or new programs to help deal with high energy or food prices can call 2-1-1 for information.

So as we put this new system in place by Sept. 20, we are going to be able to make sure that callers get the information they’re looking for in one business day, and that loan and aid applications are processed in 30 days or less.

Now, while there’s a glimmer of hope right now on oil prices staying below their summer peak, we must prepare for the worst.

Our action plan will make a difference before the snow starts flying. And if we find ourselves in a situation where we must take additional steps before December when the Legislature reconvenes, I will not hesitate to take those steps.

Today, however, such a move would be a waste of energy - time and money, two things there aren’t enough of.

It’s not possible for government to answer every energy need this winter, but it is my goal to provide struggling families and businesses with a hand up and to make sure everyone else has the information, support and opportunity to help themselves.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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Moving Forward

Responsible Plan

August 23, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

As we confront our national addiction to oil and the dangers it presents to our people and our economy, we must do things great and small to reduce our consumption and protect lives.

A week ago, I released the details of a short-term action plan that puts resources to work immediately to help families prepare for winter and to reduce oil use.

We began work on the plan in the spring, before energy prices hit their peak. That early preparation and the work of my Pre-Emergency Task Force laid the foundation for our plans.

Dozens of individuals from every sector of Maine’s economy came together to collect information, identify needs and search for solutions.

There are no easy or quick answers. Reducing oil’s strangle hold on our State will take a sustained commitment. But we must take on this difficult job now.

The $12.6 million dollar plan includes new investments in weatherization, low-income heating assistance, alternative modes of transportation, voluntary alternate work schedules for State employees, business development, training and education, and is targeted toward specific, attainable results within the next five months – not the next five years.

My first priority is this winter, making sure every winter afterwards is less and less of a burden on Maine people and businesses.

We increased funding for low-income heating assistance by more than $4 million dollars and will create an emergency fund to help families who find themselves in a heating crisis during winter’s coldest months.

While continuing to pump millions of dollars into oil tanks can keep people warm in the short-term, it doesn’t do anything to reduce the amount of oil we burn.

My plan will also increase funding for weatherization by $2 million. The resources will help to make more homes more energy efficient.

We’re also putting more than $1 million new dollars into a program to clean, tune and evaluate the furnaces of low-income families so that that public-private partnership can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent.

When the tune up is combined with weatherization, homeowners can save 30 percent off their heating bills.

Weatherization is about using resources wisely. For every gallon of oil saved, we are able to spread our fuel assistance dollars farther and help more Maine people.

And weatherization is an investment that lasts, not just this winter, but every winter afterwards, paying a high dividend for years to come.

So our plan puts resources where they can be most effective between now and December. It is responsible and will help keep people safe and secure in their homes.

In addition to helping the low-income families, I believe we must help the middle class.

The Maine State Housing Authority has below-market rates available right now to middle class families so they can weatherize their homes.

The loans have low rates, friendly terms, and provide families with an affordable option for fighting high energy costs.

The Finance Authority of Maine has set aside an additional $1 million in its Economic Recovery Loan Program to help businesses invest in energy conservation.

High energy prices hold our businesses back. So with FAME financing, employers in the State will have a way to fight back.

We’re also reprogramming more than $1 million dollars within the Department of Transportation to increase the use of the carpooling program called GoMaine, we are extending our Free Fares on Fridays with our public bus system and improving access to rail service.

We’re beginning a better understanding of our transportation capacity and we are trying to get more and more cars off the road and saving drivers money, and helping businesses get their goods to market more quickly and cheaply.

I have also signed an executive order creating a pilot program within bureaus and agencies of State government that will allow for an alternative work schedule, like the four-day work week.

Our goal is to reduce the amount of driving required by State workers doing State business without hurting the ability to deliver those services to residents and citizens here in the State of Maine.

By giving workers the flexibility, we hope to take cars off the road, reducing the demand for gasoline and saving all families money.

The pilot program will test the effectiveness of the alternative scheduling and determine whether it cuts our energy costs.

So we are following through on those recommendations, creating a new single point of contact for energy calls at 2-1-1.

As part of improving the 2-1-1 system, requests for information will be filled within one business day and applicants for assistance or loan programs will have their requests processed within 30 days.

And as we support those local efforts of neighbors helping neighbors, neighbors answering the calls for each other, we know that this winter is going to be difficult. But if we take smart, responsible actions, we can make sure that everyone stays safe and that going forward we are using less and less oil.

Thank you all and have a good weekend.

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Responsible Plan

Mills

August 30, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

As you know, Maine’s economy is in transition. Undeniably, change brings a level of uncertainty, even pain.

The paper industry is the backbone of Maine’s forest economy. Pulp and paper constitutes 22 percent of Maine’s total manufacturing jobs, and provides the highest wages in Maine’s manufacturing sector. In many rural areas of the state paper mills are the primary source of employment and the ripple impact can be felt through credit unions and hardware stores, restaurants and hotels throughout the regions in which they are located.

Since my first day in office, my Administration has been fighting to not only keep our mills up and running, but make them competitive, stocked with raw materials critical for Maine’s future. I have been personally involved in efforts to keep open the mills open in Millinocket, East Millinocket, Lincoln, Old Town and Jay. And I remain committed to ensuring their viability because there is viability. Maine is the second leading producer in the country for paper products.

But just this week, we received two serious blows – one is about 150 workers in Jay, Maine and more than 200 mill workers in Millinocket were told that their jobs were in jeopardy, their futures and those of their families uncertain.

My Administration continues to work with local, union, industry and federal officials to keep Maine’s mills operating and keep our highly skilled workforce employed.

In the case of the Wausau Paper-Otis Mill facility in Jay, the company intends to permanently shut down one of their two machines.

In Millinocket, the Katahdin Paper Co. mill is expected to shut down on September 2.

In both circumstances, the rising cost of energy is a major factor in the proposed shut downs.

I have the best, most experienced people in the Administration working to help the impacted workers and communities, and to pursue options which may keep these valuable jobs.

The Katahdin mill has been working to replace its oil-powered energy system with a biomass system that will greatly reduce operating costs and eliminate the use of oil. Work continues to ensure that the mill shut down is only a short-term measure that will enable long-term solutions to be put in place so that the hard-working, skilled people can go back to work as soon as possible.

We have been working to maintain our abundant natural resources, and we know we have the best workers in the nation – if not the world – right here in Maine.

Maintaining what we have doesn’t mean the status quo, but finding better ways to operate. There’s no denying that if we don’t change the way we do business, we’ll be left behind in this global economy.

It’s clear that moving to a more stable, clean, renewable, home-grown energy source is a critical key to Maine’s economic future. We have seen oil prices place significant burdens on families and businesses in Millinocket and Jay and across the state, and that’s why my Administration is aggressively tackling these underlying energy issues.

To maintain Maine’s leadership in forest products my Administration is aggressively pursuing forest certification as a way to brand Maine’s high quality and sustainable forest products. So consumers and the companies who serve them are increasingly demanding those products, Maine will be a leader in that area.

Maine State Government has been doing its part in encouraging more certification. We are buying more certified paper and wood to increase awareness of, and expand demand for, certified products.

We have also been transforming our forest products industry by emphasizing secondary processing of construction materials. We do not want to only produce the raw materials, we want to add value to those materials and create new innovative products. Through advanced technology and workforce development, Maine is promoting and building these new products.

Wood composites offer an example of the new technologies that are helping to transform Maine’s forest products industry. The Advanced Engineered Wood Composite Center at the University of Maine is a world leader in the development of advanced wood composite materials. Uses include the marine pilings, boat hulls, concrete forms, beams for bridges, and even shelters for our troops in the Middle East.

Maine is also taking the lead in defining appropriate uses for wood in the renewable energy picture. My Wood-to-Energy Task Force is soon going to report back with recommendations on how Maine can harness wood in new ways that are much more affordable than using oil and are environmentally-friendly.

Finally, Maine has partnered with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in a major study on the regional forest products industry. Recommendations from PricewaterhouseCoopers are due by the end of the year that will detail three areas of investment that will achieve the greatest value and keep the industry prosperous.

Maine’s forestry roots are deep, remain valuable to our economy. Building on these natural strengths and enhancing our competitive assets will offer a truly sustainable prosperity into the future of the 21st century and make that Maine’s century.

Thank you and have a great day.

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Mills

A Resurgent Resource

September 6, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

There’s no question that Maine’s traditional forest-based industries have been struggling under the weight of high energy prices and cheap foreign competition.

The headlines in just these recent weeks have been filled with news about mills in Millinocket and Jay facing unprecedented economic pressures.

Hardworking Mainers are feeling the strain as jobs – with good pay and benefits – have left our rural areas.

While there are no simple solutions to the problems facing some of our State’s largest manufacturers, I remain confident that there is a great, untapped potential remaining in our vast forest lands.

This week, I awarded the Austin Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award to Roger Milliken Jr. of the Baskahegan Company.

Roger was honored for his lifelong commitment – and his lifelong commitment includes his family, generation after generation, and their commitment to forest sustainability management. And to his efforts to protect Maine’s northern woods while also helping to maintain productive, working forests.

Roger was critical in helping to balance the environmental needs of our forests with the needs of our forest products industries.

The award is named after Austin Wilkins, a pioneer in the development of the Maine Forestry Department. He is a legend that overcame the great forest fires of 1947 and devoted his long career to protecting the resource that remains the backbone of our economy.

And as he understood back in 1928 when he first joined the Maine Forest Service and as we all understand today, the solution to many of Maine’s biggest problems grow in our woods.

For more than 200 years, we have looked to the forest to build our industry and support our people.

Even as our people and our economy change, our forests still hold the vast untapped potential.

For more than 25 years of involvement in Maine’s woods and the policies that affect them, Roger Milliken offered a good perspective this week.

He sits on the Board of the Nature Conservancy in Washington, and he has witnessed first hand the efforts to conserve forests around the world.

And from that vantage point, he said: “There is no better place on the planet than the State of Maine for us to achieve the ideals of economic and ecological sustainability.”

Milliken continued – he said, “Maine is blessed with a diverse, resilient, and self-generating forest, and it has been supported at least by 11 generations of Mainers. We are also blessed with a diverse, respectful political culture, where we know how to listen to one another and work for a common ground.”

Those attributes position us well to take advantage of our unique resources.

Of Maine’s 20 million acres, about 17 million are forest lands.

Our State has been at the forefront of supporting privately held working forests while also protecting more than 1 million acres of land, ensuring that it is still available for traditional uses.

As Maine and our nation face a new century of challenges and our economy moves away from our unhealthy addiction on foreign oil, our forests offer tremendous potential.

My administration is committed to - and working with – the Katahdin Paper Company in Millinocket, the Wausau-Otis Mill facility in Jay to protect those jobs we have in our paper industry and help to grow them into the future.

And I am also committed to making sure our forest products industry adapts and remains healthy and vibrant.

We are going to grow our wood pellet industry, and it provides a great potential to create jobs and an exportable commodity.

And we are going to continue to pursue alternative fuels, like cellulosic ethanol, which can be produced as part of the pulp making process.

Together, these technologies can reduce pollution, increase energy independence and create new jobs.

Maine’s forest products industry is facing a difficult period as it continues to adjust to high energy prices and unfair trade practices.

But I see our forests as a resurgent resource that will be able to put people to work and good paying jobs and benefits into the future and also improve our security both economically and nationally.

I want to thank you and have a great weekend.

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A Resurgent Resource

Energy Update

September 13, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

I know that despite the recent drop in gasoline and oil prices, people remain deeply concerned about this winter. The price is still hovering around $4 dollars a gallon.

The cost of energy is creating real hardships for thousands of Mainers, and leaving even more on the economic edge.

In August, I detailed my plans to help Maine families and businesses through the first part of this winter, and this weekend I’d like to update you on the progress we’ve made.

Mainers are facing a tough winter, but we are not without tools that can make a real difference in people’s lives.

For most of our vulnerable citizens – those families and individuals who qualify for heating assistance – I have committed an additional $4 million dollars to increase aid.

The federal government so far has not lived up to its responsibility for heating assistance, my hope is that congress and the delegation will make that happen. But in Maine we are going to make sure that no one freezes while waiting for the feds.

We have also committed to an emergency fund that will meet the needs of families in crisis during winter’s coldest months.

Through a public-private partnership, we are investing $3 million dollars in making homes more energy efficient and repairing the furnaces for families on the edge.

We’re reprogramming money for business loans and to enhance alternative modes of transportation.

And we are going to begin to distribute at least 2,000 KeepMeWarm kits to homeowners. Those kits include materials to help save energy – save money.

In addition, we are making available low-interest loans to middle-income families from Maine State Housing Authority. The loans are designed to help families make their homes more energy efficient without overly burdening them with high monthly payments.

Now, we haven’t stopped there.

We are training hundreds of new energy auditors and installers and put to work the newest technology at our universities and community colleges to make the classes available to as many people as possible. We need you now.

And we are also going to support existing contractors and builders and the work that needs to be done and homeowners across the State are trying to weatherize their homes this winter.

Later this month, I will host a short training session, which will be broadcast around the State, that is going to teach anyone who is interested simple ways to make their homes more energy efficient.

I’m not teaching the class, you don’t need to worry. We’ll have a real expert for that. But I’ll show that anybody – even the governor – can master easy techniques that can save real money.

And when winter arrives and the days grow short and the temperatures fall, I know that Mainers can depend upon one another.

And that’s why the State will help to support the volunteer efforts of local community groups. We are building a master list of organizations so that we can match people who need help with those who want to give help.

And we are going to create a Web site where anyone can find the energy related programs available in their community.

We are partnering with the media in Maine and we are going to reach out to every household with information about how to prepare for winter.

Over 500,000 brochures will be distributed with DVDs and people who need help can call 2-1-1 and receive the information or assistance they need.

Fundraising efforts have already begun for KeepMEWarm Funds, where Mainers’ generosity will translate into warm homes and safe families.

Now, our long-term goal must be to reduce the consumption of oil and gasoline and to free our economy from foreign oil.

During the next Legislative session, starting in December, I am going to propose a plan that is a comprehensive plan that moves us along that path so that we can – at the end of 10 years – be energy independent. And less dependent will strengthen our economy, protect our national security, improve our environment and most importantly provide for economic development – jobs with benefits – for our citizens.

But between now and then, however, we are going to do everything necessary to keep people warm and safe in their homes this winter.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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Energy Update

Historic Meeting

September 20, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this week, Maine hosted an historic event.

Five eastern Canadian Premiers and five New England governors met to work on some of the most challenging issues facing our region.

We came together in a spirit of cooperation, had frank discussions about our shared goals and opportunities and also challenges, and we built momentum that will carry our region forward.

As chairman of the New England Governors’ Conference, I led this meeting along with New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, who co-chaired the conference.

Much was accomplished.

Together, we adopted eight resolutions on issues ranging from climate change and global warming to energy independence and demographics.

But our efforts were not limited to the resolutions that were passed.

After presentations by some of the regions leading experts on energy, transportation, the environment and economic development, we committed as a group to looking for common solutions that would benefit all of our people as we work toward a more secure and sustainable future.

Too often in the past, our region has been divided. We import too many of our resources and export too many of our jobs, and we must be able to understand to fully cooperate will help to resolve the problems that we all share.

Most of New England and Eastern Canada is dangerously dependent on oil.

High prices threaten our economy, our jobs and our people.

But the instability also leaves us at the mercy of other countries that do not have the best interest of Maine – or the United States and Canada – in mind.

We know that we must end this dependency through generation of electricity from renewable sources, domestic sources and also through conservation and energy efficiency.

New England and Eastern Canada are uniquely positioned to take advantage of tremendous wind, hydro, bio-fuels and tidal power to meet our electricity needs.

But acting alone, none of us can truly reach our potential.

We must develop new transmission capacity that serves both generation projects in New England and improves the capacity to move renewable, green power from Canada into the United States.

In the past, the parochial interests of individual states and provinces have undermined our ability to act cooperatively.

Maine has not faired well as a member of the ISO New England, which runs our regional power grid. Our costs are too high, and we are not able to take full advantage of the electricity we produce instate.

So we are currently investigating our options to determine whether we should continue our membership or set a new path.

But what was confirmed on Tuesday is that the six Canadian provinces and the five New England states are ready for a new era of cooperation.

The principle that guides us all is the desire to do what’s right for our people.

Regionally, we have the potential to become energy self-sufficient, introduce price stability into the electricity market, and benefitting our businesses and families will also allow our economies to grow more quickly.

To get there, however, our decisions must be guided by objective economic analysis. Any effort, whether it’s building new generation or new transmission capacity, must benefit our region as a whole.

We must all share in the benefits because we all share in the cost.

And we must act responsibly with an eye toward sustainability and improving our environment.

I’m proud of what we have accomplished this week. We have tremendous potential and we cannot let the momentum be lost.

Taking our time is important, but remember that our economies, our cultures, and our future are all linked together for our children and grandchildren.

Thank you, and have a nice weekend.

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Historic Meeting

Economic Rescue

September 27, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

For nearly eight years, Washington has allowed speculators and manipulators to go unchecked in a free-for-all disguised as a free market.

Vast sums of money have been plundered from folks, many of whom were just trying to improve their lives with the purchase of a home, raising their families and making sure their children are safely off to college.

In recent weeks, we have become all too aware of the harsh realities of a boom built upon bad credit and shady business deals.

Our nation stands on the verge of the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression.

And there is a desperate – and immediate – call for action.

While we must call upon Washington to take action to right our country’s financial ship, we cannot be lured into adopting a policy that is not well-thought out, disciplined and responsible.

We should not lose sight of the fact that the very people demanding immediate -- and near total – financial authority are the same ones who allowed our country to slip into the mess in the first place.

In the last two weeks, our financial markets have see-sawed between bad and worse. Oil prices jumped $16 dollars a barrel in just one day – a record. And families have watched as college savings accounts and 401(k) plans seemed to disappear.

President Bush and his Treasury Secretary have proposed a massive $700 billion dollar bailout of the country’s financial markets. Before all is said and done, the cost to the taxpayers could easily approach $1 trillion dollars or more.

Unfortunately, the plan that was introduced included provisions that would have handed a blank check over to Secretary of the Treasury. He would be unaccountable to anyone and his decisions would be beyond review.

It was a lack of proper oversight that created this crisis. Creating a new layer of unaccountability won’t solve it.

In rescue of the country’s financial markets, there must be some very straight forward principals.

First, it should be bipartisan.

It should put taxpayers ahead of CEOs.

It should include transparency and accountability.

And it should not forget about Main Street in favor of Wall Street.

When the financial titans go hat in hand in to the government looking for salvation, we cannot forget all those families living on the edge of bankruptcy and foreclosure, and all those small businesses that are seeing the American dream fade away.

If we are to save America’s economy, we cannot forget about its very life blood -- the worker, the small business owner, the entrepreneur and the family home.

While some of the effects of our current crisis are already painfully evident, more damage will likely emerge.

We must be mindful that retirement accounts and pensions could be put at risk because they invested in institutions like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Lehman Brothers.

And as we begin to work our way out of the crisis, we will have to pay a price for the failures on Wall Street.

And our local and regional banks, many of them rejected the lure of quick dollars and shady practices, could find themselves at a competitive disadvantage as the U.S. government bails out larger competitors.

There’s no question government must act.

But it must take the right action.

Our economy has already been rocked by record high oil prices, a failing housing market and instability.

Things are likely to get worse before they get better.

In Maine, we have aggressively sought to reform government at all levels to make it smaller, more efficient and more affordable.

We’ve reduced the number of state workers. We have forced efficiencies in administration at all levels, including human services, education administration and county government.

We must do more. We cannot count on new revenues – frankly, we are going to have less revenues.

And we are not going to raise taxes, we are going to look to cut taxes. So we must instead focus on austerity.

I have directed every agency in state government to adopt a plan to cut spending by at least 10 percent.

It’s an exercise that will ensure that we are prepared to weather the coming financial storm.

We don’t know yet how deep the cut will need to be, but we know reductions will be necessary.

I can’t say with certainty what the economic picture will look like down the road. So far, Maine’s unemployment rate and revenue picture have been better than the national average.

But we can’t count on that good news to continue.

For the past five and a half years, we have worked to improve Maine’s financial footing. We have built back our financial reserves from zero; we have been able to make sure that we have increased funding for education to the highest levels that it has been funded in, in the State’s history.

But, there’s much hard work left to do so that we are better prepared for the future because we have the best natural resources, highest quality of life, and recognize those connections around the world that can be made from Maine so that our young people don’t have to leave and find employment elsewhere.

That’s my goal. I know that’s your goal. Let’s work at this together.

Have a good day.

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Economic Rescue

Budget Realities

October 4, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

When we began dealing with a slowing housing market and job losses, record-high oil prices, we knew that this winter was going to be difficult.

But the reality of just how bad things could really get have been illustrated over the last few weeks and the country’s growing financial crisis has crippled the credit market and driven Wall Street and Washington into spasms of panic and uncertainty.

Here’s what we know. Maine is not immune from a stumbling national economy. We’re not officially in a recession, but it certainly feels like it.

The predictions for later this year and early next year aren’t good. It’s possible that the gross domestic product for the entire country could shrink. And even optimistic predictions suggest it will be late next year before the national economy begins to recover.

Maine will not escape our national condition.

This week, the State Budget Office released a detailed report about what we can expect as we prepare for the State’s next two year budget, which takes effect July 1, 2009.

Right now, we have a balanced budget; we’re spending less money this year than we did last year; and we have been able to accumulate surpluses. But as we look over the next two years and the project revenues, we are also looking at the projected expenditures.

Commissioners have come forward with plans in their departments for current services to show that their costs for the next two years are going to be increased over revenues by about $508 million dollars.

So, that’s not a deficit. That’s projecting that Maine will have a structural gap of about $500 million dollars if we don’t balance the current services and the projected increases with the revenues that Maine will be gathering over the next two years.

And those revenues are estimated by a revenue forecasting team that is non-partisan.

Last year, they forecast that the State’s income for the next two years would fall short of earlier projections by almost $343 million dollars as a result of the recession and high energy prices.

The economic downturn, not outlandish State spending, accounts for the vast majority of our current gap.

New education spending and increases in health care costs account for the rest.

With the exception of the voter-mandated increases in education, which have required the State to spend over $800 million new dollars in the last four years, State government has essentially been flat funded.

We have forced efficiencies, restructured government and improved the way we deliver services and we’ve also reduced programs.

If Maine had not held the line on spending the last six years, our situation today would be much worse.

Rhode Island finished last year with a true deficit and still faces hundreds of millions of dollars of more cuts. The State’s unemployment rate has reached over 8.5 percent, and the housing market is in steep decline.

In September alone, Massachusetts fell $200 million short in revenue collections and the State’s structural gap has been estimated at more than $1.5 billion.

Even New Hampshire is expected to have revenues fall $200 million short by next summer. They are going to be $100 million short before the election in this current year.

So no State is escaping the national economy.

That’s why I have ordered every department in State government to prepare for a 10 percent reduction in spending.

The target is real. The exercise is serious.

I fully expect that when the Revenue Forecasting Committee revises its projection, we will see further reductions in collections.

So, the path ahead will be difficult.

But we are going to make our decisions with a few guiding principles:

We will adhere to the State statute that requires Maine to be at the national average for State and local tax burden.

That is why we have demanded more efficient K-12 school administrative costs. That is why we administered a single State correctional system, because 15 separate county systems were inefficient and too costly to our taxpayers.

While those decisions have helped to slow the onslaught of a slowing economy, it is very clear that we are going to have to do more.

Mainer’s are resilient. We are going to have to work together. We are going to have to do it with less dollars and we are going to have to have better results.

It is going to be a time that I believe will transform Maine, in terms of service to its people for its future, providing opportunities for children to be here and to have jobs, and we’re going to be able to protect the natural resources so we continue to be the place where more people come to set up shop, to operate businesses, to retire and relax and enjoy the wonderful resources we have in the State.

Maine will be known as an opportunity place along with being a vacation place.

I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today

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Budget Realities

Unclaimed Stimulus Checks Deadline

October 11, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this year, Congress passed an economic stimulus package to help reduce the effects of a slowing economy. The idea was to put additional money in the pockets of American people.

To receive the checks, most Americans simply had to do something they do every year ‚€“ which is file taxes.

However, there are many people who were eligible for these checks who are not required to file a tax return.

Three months ago, Maine still had as many as 31,000 Mainers who were eligible for the check worth $300 or more who had not yet asked for it.

I am happy to report that as of September 7, with an aggressive campaign about 9,000 additional Mainers have claimed their economic stimulus checks.

The bad news is that more than 22,000 Mainers still haven‚€™t. That leaves about $6 million dollars of available money sitting in the federal treasury going unclaimed by people in the State of Maine who deserve it.

And time is running out.

The deadline to file for your economic stimulus check is Wednesday, October 15th.

If you are not required to file a tax return and have at least $3,000 of income, all you need to do is file a 1040-A tax form to get the stimulus checks.

The form is simple, easy to fill out and understand.

They aren‚€™t complicated and they don‚€™t require the work generally associated with tax forms.

But more importantly, there are also people standing by, ready to help you.

AARP and the Maine Revenue Service, and the IRS are ready to assist.

For those with access to a computer, you can go to the Web site: www.aarp.org.

The Web site has a simple form that you can print out and send in.

You can also call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-0582, extension 377.

Or call the local Area Agencies on Aging at 1-877-353-3771. I will repeat these numbers in a couple of minutes, so get a pen and paper ready.

The original stimulus package was passed to ease the burden of a slowing national economy. We are at the point now where our national economy has nearly stalled.

Business and families are hurting.

Gas prices and heating oil prices -- while going down -- are still much higher than they were a year ago.

And prices continue to rise on food and other necessities.

College tuition has increased over 35 percent these past five years.

And health care costs have risen four times faster than wages over the past six years.

Working families have been forced to absorb these increased costs while wages have largely remained flat.

To top it off, we in Maine are in the time of the year when temperatures are starting to drop, and we are facing the realities of turning our furnaces on for the first time this season.

Nearly everyone is counting every dollar, every nickel and every dime. We cannot let a check for $300 pass us by.

Moreover, the need for a second economic stimulus is becoming more and more apparent.

The federal government needs to step forward and help States rebuild the foundations of the economy.

We need to be able to make investments and put Americans and Mainers back to work and get our foundation of our economy on firm footing.

Investments need to be made ‚€“ at the federal level ‚€“ in research and development, infrastructure and job growth.

We need to make sure that small businesses ‚€“ family businesses - get the attention and investments they deserve during these trying times.

By making investments in jobs, we are making investments in people. And when you make investments in people, America wins.

While we will likely not see another stimulus package until at least January, right now our focus must be on informing Mainers who deserve an economic stimulus check that they need to file their claim by Wednesday.

Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of the folks who haven‚€™t claimed their stimulus checks are seniors. Many of them are living on a fixed income and could really use the help.

That $300 could be used for oil and groceries, warm clothes or medicine.

So if you have a loved one who qualifies for a check but has not yet claimed it, or know of somebody, I urge you to contact them and give them assistance.

Or, if you are listening to the broadcast and you have not yet filed your own form because you don‚€™t need, but make at least $3,000 a year, I urge you to fill out simple paperwork to receive a little extra money for the winter.

Help is available ‚€“ free -- at the A-A-R-P‚€™s Web site ‚€“ www.aarp.org;

Call the I-R-S directly at 1-800-829-0582, extension 377;

Or call the local Area Agency on Aging at 1-877-353-3771.

This money was intended to help all of us get through difficult times. We need to make sure that we spread the word and that everyone who‚€™s eligible benefits from this important program gets them.

Thank you for your help and have a nice weekend.

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Unclaimed Stimulus Checks Deadline

Energy Update

October 18, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

You know, I’ve been involved in politics for more than 30 years – as a city councilor, a State Senator, a member of Congress and finally as Governor.

During that time, I’ve seen Maine face its share of good times and bad, of war and of peace, stability and uncertainty.

I can’t remember a time in all those years where you could pick up the newspaper or turn on the evening news on any given day and be greeted with such wild swings in the nation’s mood and economic conditions.

Just this week, the stock market has moved up and down like a spider on a web.

One day, the massive federal bailout appears to have calmed the jittery nerves of Wall Street and the very next, we’re all afraid to look at a statement on our retirement accounts.

More and more people feel uncertain about their jobs, and the price of gasoline and heating oil leaves too many families still wondering how they’ll pay the bills to stay warm this winter.

To make sure Mainers are as ready as possible for this winter, we have done a number of things to make sure people have the resources to stay warm and safe in their homes.

In addition to new money from the federal government, my Administration has set aside state resources to help families struggling to make ends meet to pay for their heating oil.

We are helping more families weatherize their homes so they burn less oil and are working cooperatively with local oil companies to make sure low-income families can get their furnace or boiler repaired.

We’ve increased training opportunities for people interested in becoming energy auditors or installers, so that the marketplace can meet the new demands of people seeking to make their homes more efficient.

We’re holding classes and broadcasting training so that homeowners can learn to do the simple things that can make a real difference on heating bills.

Low-interest loans are available from the Maine State Housing Authority and the Finance Authority of Maine to help middle-class families and businesses invest in energy improvements. Using less energy, saving more dollars.

We’ve distributed thousands of Keep ME Warm brochures that include handy tips on ways to reduce energy consumption.

And on Oct. 25, we will be distributing 2,000 Keep ME Warm Kits to low-income families. With these kits include tools that help them to reduce a family’s energy consumption.

There’s a tremendous amount being done to prepare for this winter. We can’t wait for the snow to start flying to get ready.

Local groups are organizing to make a difference in their communities and neighborhoods. They’re raising money to take care of neighbors, volunteering to help with home improvements and making plans to check on elder friends and those who might need a little extra help this winter.

Nobody knows how high energy prices will be this winter. Recently, they’ve come down a bit. But it’s hard to call $3.20 a gallon for gasoline a bargain or to think we’re out of the woods because home heating oil isn’t at $4 dollars a gallon.

With all the work we’ve done and the decline in prices, we are better off today than we were a few months ago in terms of the price of oil and gas, but at the same time, our economy has slowed – throwing people out of work and reducing the work schedules on a lot of other people.

So we are not out of the woods.

Together, we will be able to get through this winter.

And come spring, we will get relief from cold wind and snow.

And I believe that we will have a new energy policy that will not only make us more energy independent on foreign sources, but it will put Maine on the path to a new, more secure energy future, and a sounder economic foundation.

I’m still putting together the details of a plan that will help break the grip of foreign oil on Maine’s economy and on Maine’s people.

But I will tell you this.

Our plan will help to make homes more efficient and better able to withstand winter’s cold grasp.

And it will reduce our dependency on oil.

It will put us on the path to a greener, healthier, renewable energy.

You know, I remember gas lines and too much oil dependency, and its impact that it’s had on businesses and lives and family and friends.

But despite those hard lessons of the past, we have allowed ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security. We eagerly believed that energy – and particularly oil – would remain abundant and cheap.

We liked things the way they were, and there were plenty of reasons to put off change.

But no more.

So as we build the plans that will move Maine forward, there’s no doubt that we are going to be faced with tough choices and controversial decisions.

But working together as Mainers, I know we can find the answers to work not only for our State, but our nation.

And we must not let the momentum for change which has built over the last year be lost. We cannot afford to let things stay like they have been.

Now is the time to be bold.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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Energy Update

Economic Development during Difficult Times

October 25, 2008

Hello. This is Governor John Baldacci.

I wanted to talk to you this morning about Maine’s economy, the national economy, what happened on the stock market yesterday and the global recession.

You know, in Maine we have seen 2,400 jobs lost during the past year. Our unemployment rate increased to 5.6 percent in September, that’s up from 4.9 percent just a year ago.

Our State is feeling the effects of a national economy that at times has appeared to be in freefall.

The stock market remains unstable and unpredictable, which translates into trouble for big and small businesses alike and leaves folks to watch desperately as their hard-earned savings slip away.

But as difficult as the national economy is – and as hard as it is to see the bright spots – I remain confident in Maine and our ability to endure the current crisis.

While unemployment is up in our State, so far we have done better than the nation as a whole. Nationally in September, unemployment was 6.1 percent.

And while we're worried about announcements we've seen about layoffs in our communities, we also saw just this week that Maine remains an attractive place to live and do business.

We just welcomed a first class company, Boston Financial to Maine this week.

This renowned financial services company is creating more than 200 new jobs in this State.

They're good jobs, they depend on a highly trained, dependable and professional workforce in the State of Maine.

Boston Financial didn't pick Maine on a whim or because it's owners and directors enjoy our beautiful coastline. Maine went head-to-head with about a dozen other states in a competitive process where they hired independent financial analysts to crunch the numbers.

And when Boston Financial made its final tally, Maine came out on top.

The company credits Maine’s top-rate work force as a major reason they decided to locate in our State. And according to their CEO Steve Hooley, they found that Maine would give them the educated, motivated work force to draw on.

The other reason, Mr. Hooley pointed out, they decided to locate in Maine because of the business-friendly environment that they found. So in addition to our world-class workforce, and the economic development tools we have put in place during the last six years, we have been able to compete with other places.

Particularly, Boston Financial was attracted by Maine's Pine Tree Zone program, which provides significant tax incentives to companies to create one job or 101 jobs in this State.

This program, which won bipartisan support in the Legislature, builds a level playing field to attract new businesses to Maine. And we all know that when given a fair chance and a level playing field, Maine workers and businesses can outshine and out-compete the competition.

And as was pointed out by Boston Financial’s CEO, there are not a lot of financial services companies opening new buildings right now and adding jobs. This company knew that Maine held a great opportunity for them to expand and taking advantage of that was their first order of business.

Also this week, we learned that Red Shield Environmental in Old Town was sold to a new owner, Patriarch Partners.

Patriarch Partners is a $6 billion international company that specializes in buying companies and turning them around.

I spoke with Lynn Tilton, the CEO, and I'm so impressed with her vision for Red Shield, her commitment to creating jobs and keeping them in the United States.

Red Shield Environmental in Old Town has a tremendous potential, both as a pulp mill and as a producer of alternative energy.

So when they bring back the over 160 workers and start to work on the state-of-the-art research and development and turn that aging mill into a new bio-refinery for the 21st century, we are going to be able to invigorate our forest products industry, get off our reliance on foreign oil, and I am so confident that that work is going to continue now.

So this is good news for the workers, good news for their families and the community in Old Town and the area and I look forward to seeing folks going back to work soon.

Maine cannot separate itself from the hardships our country faces.

We face a dangerous winter and perhaps the most difficult State budget in recent memory.

But we have made the prudent decisions that will help us to weather this storm.

We have conserved our natural resources. Our woods and water and wind will give us an opportunity to chart our own, secure course into the future.

And business development incentives, like the Pine Tree Economic Development Program that was created in Maine give us the opportunity to grow new jobs and compete on a level playing field in this global economy.

So, given an opportunity, Maine's workforce and its natural resources can outshine the competition.

Working together and sticking together and looking out for each other, we will recognize a bright opportunity so that we can make our country and State more independently secure, energy secure and making sure that our resources are protected for future generations.

Thank you very much.

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Economic Development during Difficult Times

Health Care Leadership

November 1, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

We see examples that Americans are dealing with a sagging national economy every day.

Families are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table, while worrying about how to stay warm with winter quickly approaching.

Budgets are tight and costs keep going up.

On top of everything else, we cannot allow health care insecurity to be another burden added to our list of worries.

This has never been a more important issue than it is today.

However, Maine has been a leader in providing quality health care coverage.

Continuing this work is important to making Maine a healthier State, keeping our heath care costs down and having a healthy economy.

When I first became Governor, we found that one of the biggest challenges facing small businesses was the high costs of health insurance.

So, to help remedy the problem, we established Dirigo Health Reform in 2003. Dirigo’s foundation was to help individuals and small businesses with fifty or fewer employees, and the self-employed. At that time, Maine had the highest rate of uninsured in New England.

By 2006, Maine was the only New England State to see our rate of uninsured decrease and by 2007, even with capped enrollment in the program Maine still was among the lowest rates of uninsured in the NATION, according to the latest U.S. census.

So, great strides have been made in terms of covering the uninsured.

This program was established to help individuals who are earning too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to pay for health insurance all by themselves.

Now, while the health insurance covered through Dirigo is just part of the solution, it's an important part, and it has literally saved lives.

I spoke with a young woman who says because of DirigoChoice coverage, she was able to have a checkup with her family doctor, knowing that her mother had cancer, she was assuming that she also had cancer but could not afford to go to the doctor’s to have the tests necessary.

Under DirigoChoice coverage, she was able to get that checkup and it showed that she did also have cancer, but she caught it in the early stages and she was able to get treatments thanks to Dirigo.

Even if that were the only story – even if her life was the only one saved – that is important to me and I know that’s important to you.

But the truth is there are more stories and there are healthier people, families and businesses who are surviving today.

I talked to a man who is over in Naples, started his own little business because he wanted to go out on his own, work with his wife and daughter, and have their own family business.

But, health care was the one bridge that he couldn’t cross until he was able to get DirigoChoice coverage.

There are 620 small businesses like his and there are 29,000 Mainers having access to affordable health insurance since its inception.

But what’s keeping it from bridging more and more lives and more and more small businesses and self-employed is finding sustainable financing.

Earlier this year, the Legislature passed – and I signed – sustainable financing for this program.

Now I know there are organizations who are upset about the tax on beer and wine and soda. If we are ever going to be able to try to provide universal coverage to all of our citizens, there are going to have to be sacrifices that are made.

But I believe that if we can have healthy people, we will have a healthy economy.

The law containing the beverage tax will also decrease an existing tax on health claims. Yes, you heard me correctly – it will DECREASE an existing tax on health claims.

Because the present program is self-funded by health care dollars, there is an assessment on health claims to pay for the health care coverage being provided.

Granted, it's a complicated formula, but health care is complicated practice. Under the new plan, the tax is cut in more than half.

I understand that people are fed up with taxes, but there are hardworking Mainers out there who are fed up with not having quality health care coverage.

There are families, small businesses, self-employed people out there who are fighting and working hard every single day that don’t have quality health care coverage. These people are your friends, your neighbors and your co-workers.

Dirigo is a hand-up, not a hand-out.

So, the Maine Medical Association – and all the doctors, and nurses and other health care professionals – the Consumers for Affordable Health Care, the Bishop, Catholic Diocese all standing together and urging voters in Maine to support health care by voting “no” on 1.

So if you believe as I do that quality, affordable health insurance should continue in Maine, I would also urge you to vote "no" on Question One.

A "no" vote on Question One is a "yes" vote for the people of Maine and a healthier State for the future.

Thank you.

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Health Care Leadership

We Will Get There

November 8, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Tuesday night, as America witnessed an historic election, it felt to me like the walls that have separated us as a country began to fall down.

Still in the glow of a strong victory, President-elect Barack Obama pushed aside the temptation of self-congratulations.

Instead, he offered a hand of friendship across the aisle. He set the tone for a new political compact in the United States.

Speaking to more than a hundred thousand folks in Chicago and millions more around the world, he said: “Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.”

He said: “Let us remember that it was a man from this state (of Illinois) who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity.”

He continued: “Those values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.”

It’s a strong message, and that’s one that we all should take to heart.

The United States – and Maine – face incredible challenges, and we cannot overcome them by clinging to the divisions of the past.

Together we can overcome the problems before us.

In Maine, we learned Monday that our State’s economic picture is the same as the nation – marred in a recession.

Our leading economists have met to discuss the impact of this national recession and the impact it is having on the State of Maine.

The news was not good.

For our current fiscal year which ends this June 30th, revenues could fall short of projections by $150 million dollars.

While the number is daunting, my Administration has been laying the ground work for several months already to make sure our State can react.

Every State agency and Department has developed plans to reduce spending by 10 percent. In my office, we’ve already put those plans in place, taking advantage of those savings right now.

And we are also finalizing sharp reductions in spending that could be implemented immediately.

I have a Constitutional obligation to ensure that this State maintains a balanced budget. It is a serious responsibility that requires serious action.

I also have an obligation to make sure that we also have a safety net for the most vulnerable in our society. By combining those efforts and the steps that we are preparing to take, there will be sacrifices and cuts that will be put forward, and those decisions will be difficult.

But I am more certain today than ever, that if we can work together - across the aisles, republican and democrat, green and independent – if we can put the interest of the State of Maine first instead of the partisan political interest, we will be able to create a healthier, more stable and more robust economy.

You know, we have already begun the hard work on school administrative reduction and what we spend on unnecessary administration.

We must continue our efforts to streamline State government, county government, local government, school administrative government, government at all levels - to increase the efficiencies and replace outdated ideas with new ones that work better. And be able to make sure that we are still providing the important health and educational opportunities so that our citizens, our youth, our future have better opportunities and a firmer foundation in which to do business here and do business around the world.

These times demand action.

We cannot be afraid to change. We need to in order to have a brighter future.

We will have a new partner in the White House who understands the pressures placed upon states, and the need to work in a partnership to turn our economy and our country around.

This week, I spoke with Democratic and Republican leaders in the Maine House and Senate.

I told them – and they agreed – that it is time to replace the bitterness of the election campaign with a new commitment to work together - to put the best interest of the State first.

I know that we will not always be able to agree, and that there are real differences of opinion about how best to move forward.

But these are times that do demand bipartisanship and leadership.

And we have got to be ready to embrace the best ideas, no matter who they belong to.

As President-elect Obama said so eloquently Tuesday night, “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. … [but] we as a people will get there…I promise you.”

Inspiring words.

Thank you for listening and have a nice weekend.

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We Will Get There

Curtailment

November 22, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Wednesday, I ordered State government to immediately cut spending by $80 million dollars.

The Maine Constitution demands that the State finish the fiscal year with a balanced budget. It’s the law. The reductions I have ordered have helped to meet that requirement.

Our country remains in the grip of a difficult economic downturn.

Unemployment is on the rise, companies are being forced to retrench and consumer spending is down.

While Maine has faired better than many of our neighbors – largely due to the economic and fiscal policies of the last six years – we are not immune from the trauma that is affecting the world economy.

We know that State revenues will not meet the projections we used to craft this year’s budget.

To meet the challenges of this reality, we must move to reduce spending immediately.

Under State law, the Governor has the authority to reduce spending on programs through what’s called a curtailment order.

The order is temporary and serves to reduce spending until a supplemental budget can be passed by the Legislature.

As we worked on the details of the curtailment, I moved forward carefully to limit the direct impacts on people who need help the most – the vulnerable populations of children, people with disabilities, the elderly, and also watching out for public health and safety.

After six years of constrained State spending, there are no easy choices.

In December, I will present to the Legislature a supplemental budget that will contain many of the cuts in the curtailment, but also include other initiatives to reduce spending to meet the current revenue downturn.

And in January, I will present a two-year budget for 2010 and ‘11.

We are making some very difficult choices and we have to prepare for the uncertainty of the future, but at the same time to put us in a better financial position for recovery.

The cuts we have implemented will reduce State spending in human services, in K-12 education and other vital areas of government.

The proposed reductions were evaluated based on a number of factors, including the effects on public health and safety, the extent that the impact could be minimized and whether the proposal, insofar as practical, followed the intent of the Legislature. I am going to continue the hiring and travel freezes currently in place.

I will continue to look for administrative efficiencies and restructuring of government at all levels.

And despite the hardships our country faces, I want you to know that Maine remains a very attractive place to live, work and do business.

And speaking of doing business, even in this downturn we are seeing businesses moving into Maine and expanding here.

Whether it was Boston Financial in Rockland or NotifyMD in Winthrop, TD Banknorth with over 2,500 employees in Maine and T-Mobile now up to 800 in Oakland. Companies all up and down the State of Maine are realizing that Maine has economic incentives and a highly productive, capable workforce to compete and win anywhere.

So we are going to fight for every job and we are going to try to grow new ones. Especially in renewable energy and wind energy and transmission. And we are going to even work in the most difficult times that we face with an eye toward the future and toward recovery as a nation and as a State.

So as we work on the budget for 2010 and 2011, we know that there are more difficult decisions are ahead. All indications are the current recession will continue at least through part of next year – and maybe even longer.

But, you know, we’re Mainers. And you know we are going to work together, especially during difficult times. And we are going to overcome those challenges. And we are going to work together – I am sure of it.

Have a very good day. Thank you.

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Veterans Day

November 15, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Tuesday, we paused to honor the millions of men and women who have served this country in the military.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, this nation annually takes a moment to reflect solemnly on the end of World War I. The "War to End All Wars" – as it was called at the time – concluded on November 11, 1918, after four years of unimaginable sacrifices from brave men and women.

In 1938, the day became a national holiday. Less than a year later, World War II began when Hitler's troops invaded Poland.

Since then, we have seen brave soldiers leave home and fight for this country all over the world – Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, just to name a few.

Veterans Day is marked with ceremonies and remembrances nationwide for the men and women who have worn the uniform of their country. Maine celebrated our nation's heroes with parades, dedications and presentations throughout the State.

Maine is a small state, but when the call to service comes our men and women step forward.

Right now, there are more than 150,000 veterans living in the State of Maine. More than 10,000 of them are women.

During World War II, more than 10 percent of Maine's population served in uniform. Today, we have more than 14,000 living veterans from World War II.

During the Korean War, more than 41,000 men and women from Maine answered the call to duty, and 64,000 Mainers served in Vietnam.

Mainers have continued to answer the call by serving in the Persian Gulf and most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is my duty as Governor, and our collective duty as citizens of the United States, to show veterans from every war how thankful we are for their service and how we will never forget their sacrifices.

I consider it among my highest priorities as a public servant to ensure that our current and past soldiers and their families are looked after.

It is the least we can do as a State and as a nation.

We've built a strong support network for our veterans and our current military personnel, and we continually work to improve the services we can offer.

Earlier this year I signed legislation creating a Veterans Campus in Bangor.

Once finished, it will become a "one-stop-shop" for our veterans.

The campus will provide independent housing, many forms of medical care, and the information and programs administered by the state's Bureau of Maine Veterans Services, all in a single place. The Veterans Campus will improve convenience, access, efficiency, coordination and - most importantly - quality for veterans in the State.

To honor our nation's veterans, a couple of years ago we presented the first State of Maine Gold Star and Silver Star Honorable Service Medals to servicemen and women from all wars.

The Gold Star Honorable Service Medal is awarded to families of fallen soldiers, and the Silver Star Honorable Service Medal is awarded to Purple Heart recipients and former Prisoners of War.

These veterans never asked to be honored. They don't look for the recognition or the pat on the back. But it is our way of saying "thank you" to them and especially to their families for everything that they have done and sacrificed for their State and their nation.

To date, we have honored 100 former Prisoners of War and 360 Purple Heart recipients.

Veterans Day for this year has past. But there are many opportunities everyday to say "thank you" to the men and women who serve in the military.

It could be a veteran that you know. It could be a family member or a neighbor. Or it could be a veteran that you see at a ceremony receiving recognition for their service.

Or it could be a future veteran who is taking an airplane in and out of Bangor International Airport and met by the troop greeters; or the lady flag wavers in Freeport; or people all over the State who are thanking our men and women who are serving in today’s wars.

They all deserve our thanks, our gratitude for everything they have done and everything they continue to do.

And to them and the men and women who are currently serving overseas: We hold you close in our hearts and prayers and anxiously await your happy and safe return home.

Thank you for listening.

Related Documents

Veterans Day

Thanksgiving

November 29, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Just a few days ago, we celebrated the unofficial start of the holiday season, Thanksgiving.

This holiday has traditionally been a day for families and friends to get together, have dinner, and offer thanks.

While Thanksgiving dinner may be gone – even if the leftovers aren't – we still have the opportunity to take stock of the blessings in our lives.

For me, the holidays are all about family and friends and the special people in my life.

One of the great privileges of being Governor is that I have met a lot of wonderful people in many different walks of life – small business owners, parents, teachers, doctors, firefighters, farmers and hundreds of others.

Most of them share in my belief that we live in a very special place.

Even during those dark financial times, when a national recession and global economic crisis are dragging down our economy, they remind me that we have weathered storms in the past, that we will weather this storm now.

And I know that people are struggling and I know that times are tough.

But we are Mainers. We have something that people from around the country and around the world want. Maine has limitless beauty and natural resources, but most importantly it has great people and a reputation for quality.

Even though the economy is bad, people are still choosing to invest in Maine and Maine people.

Last month, we made an announcement that Boston Financial had expanded into Maine. The company located in the former MBNA facility in Rockland. They project creating 200 jobs at that location before October of 2009.

When times are tough, financial companies specifically are not expanding or opening new facilities – but Boston Financial is a great company, with good paying jobs and benefits, and the company believed in Maine, believed in the people of Maine and they have made the investment in Maine.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I joined Gary Ferguson who is the CEO of NotifyMD for more good news. He announced that NotifyMD would be expanding into Winthrop.

Now, NotifyMD is a company that does all of the back office work for doctors so that they can spend more time giving quality care to their patients.

The company opened a call center in Farmington in 2007 and they have already earned a first class reputation with its employees and the community. They know the value of Maine workers – their facility in Farmington is the company's highest performing call center in the country.

So once Notify M-D saw that performance, the choice was easy for them to expand in Maine again. They expect to add new jobs over the next 12 months, and they are awarding all of those jobs to Maine residents…just as they did in Farmington.

And on the same day that Notify M-D announced its expansion, Barclays announced an expansion of its call center in Wilton. The company will be adding 25 more jobs to its existing work force of 70 people in Franklin County.

And I got a report that came out this week - it was the State New Economy Index. It measures the economic structures of States, and are they better prepared to deal with the new economy?

For example, in the new economy being global, it measures knowledge jobs, globalization, transformation to a digital economy, and technology innovation capacity.

Overall, Maine’s rank went up to 28th in the country from 32nd.

Maine ranked 15th overall in the transformation to a digital economy including the percentage of people in the State who are using online or IT services to deliver those services more efficiently.

Maine ranked 2nd in the country in terms of technology in the schools, meaning that our future workforce is going to be more universally trained to be able to attract good paying jobs and benefits.

Maine ranks 5th in the country in terms of online agriculture. Farmers with internet access are using computers for business.

Maine has moved from 42nd to 32nd in terms of the number of patents issued to individuals or companies per one thousand workers. Those patents mean start-up businesses are going to be occurring. It is the largest growth in the country.

Maine ranks 5th in the country moving toward a green economy, and 5th in the country in terms of alternative energy use.

So, as the weather turns cold and the global economy continues to struggle, remember all that Maine has to be thankful for.

We have great people; we have great Yankee ingenuity and a worldwide reputation as a State with people who work hard and produce results. So when given a level playing field and an equal chance, Maine people can – and will – succeed.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Thanksgiving

Unique Transition

December 6, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to join many of the country’s other governors in a rare meeting with President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden in Philadelphia.

The experience was unique, and the meeting was unprecedented.

Never before have the nation’s governors been invited this early on to meet with an incoming administration. To put this in perspective, we were meeting with the new administration so early that many of the staff members had not even had business cards printed yet.

While the meeting had its share of cordialities and friendly exchanges, the majority of time was spent discussing how we can rebuild our country.

President-elect Obama stressed to all governors that reaching across party lines will be more important than ever. He told us that he is extending the same hand of friendship and the same commitment to partnership to Republicans and Democrats alike.

Governors, he said, wouldn’t be just asked to implement his plan or follow his lead. He is seeking our advice and expertise in creating an economic recovery plan for our nation.

President-elect Obama understands that in order to rebuild America for the long-term, every state must be engaged and involved in the process if it is going to work.

He is going to work with us on developing that package. It is going to rebuild our economy by addressing job creation, energy independence, health care and to recognize our ever-growing national debt.

The President-elect plans to sign an economic stimulus package to address those problems on the first day in office.

He is making it his top priority.

The stimulus package could pump as much as $500 billion dollars into the states’ economies over the next two years.

That is infrastructure investments in rails, roads and bridges; into health care (and) energy independence.

The President-elect has a goal to secure 2.5 million jobs for Americans through this package. Every state – including Maine – will benefit from such a plan, both directly and indirectly.

My fellow governors who attended the meeting with the President-elect and the Vice President-elect left Philadelphia with a sense of optimism.

It was a feeling that transcended party lines.

As governors, it is important to understand that there is a time for campaigning and there is a time for governing. Right now, our country needs our lawmakers to govern.

As we prepare for a new Presidential Administration to take over, here in Maine we are also welcoming in a new group of State Legislators.

On Wednesday, I swore-in members of the 124th Maine Legislature. As a group, at this critical time, we must all pledge to work together to do what is in the best interest for all of our citizens.

We – like the rest of the nation – are experiencing a difficult time financially. We have already had to cut spending in this fiscal year by nearly $80 million dollars and I will be introducing a supplemental budget in a couple of weeks.

Difficult choices will have to be made. Maine people will be affected. But, by working together and discussing our plans and displaying the bipartisan efforts that the President-elect is displaying on a national level, we will persevere as a state and as a nation.

I would like to take this time to congratulate all of the incoming members of the 124th Legislature. I look forward to working with all of you in the upcoming session.

I also want to congratulate State Rep. Janet Mills on being chosen to be Maine’s new Attorney General. I want to say I look forward to working with the Attorney General in her new capacity.

And finally, I would like to congratulate State Auditor Neria Douglass, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, State Treasurer David LaMoine for winning re-election to their offices. They have served the State and our people well, and I look forward to continuing to work with all of them.

While it is exciting to welcome in our new lawmakers and constitutional officers, we must realize that this is a difficult and trying time for our citizens and families and businesses.

So as this new year brings in new opportunities and a new outlook on the future, we also have to have a renewed sense of community and looking out for each other to make sure we get through these difficult days and months ahead. I am hopeful that you will share the optimism with me as I look forward to the future. And I am hopeful that we will be able to have those brighter days ahead.

Thank you and have a nice weekend.

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Unique Transition

Energy from Alternative Sources

December 13, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this week, we held the first meeting of the Ocean Energy Task Force.

I created this Task Force last month so Maine could take an important step toward energy independence and security.

The membership includes some of Maine’s best minds and creative thinkers from the both the public and private sectors.

Former Governor King, George Hart from the Ocean Energy Institute and Professor Habib Dagher from the University of Maine have agreed to participate with an all-star line up from around the State of Maine.

Like me, the members of the Ocean Energy Task Force are excited about the possibilities of harnessing the Gulf of Maine as a resource for renewable energy.

Wind, tidal, wood energy hold tremendous opportunities for Maine.

When you combine the energy that they produce by tidal power with wind and solar energy, along with additional alternative energy sources, we can make a significant difference for our State and our country.

Earlier this week I visited a wood pellet facility in Bethel.

Burning wood can be cleaner, and a greener way to heat homes and businesses than burning oil.

Kicking the oil habit and using an existing Maine resource like wood will help keep valuable financial resources of hard working Maine families and businesses here in the State.

With the gasoline prices hovering around $1.80 a gallon this week and home heating oil getting closer and closer to $2 a gallon, it is easy to fall into a false sense of security thinking that energy prices have leveled off.

Not to sound like “The Grinch,” but energy prices will go up again as our national economy begins to show some signs of recovery from this recession.

We must remember that prices fell from record highs in just two months … and it would not be a surprise if they went back up even faster.

While prices continue to fall, there are reports that already the oil cartels are working to raise the price of a barrel of oil. They’d like to see the price increase from its current level of about $40 - $50 a barrel upwards of $75 - $90 a barrell.

Additionally, OPEC has talked about a severe cut in oil production to help raise the price of oil.

I, for one, am sick and tired of OPEC dictating how much we spend in Maine for a product that we depend upon to be able to work and keep our homes warm and to power our economy.

I have been through enough oil-contrived disasters to know that if we don’t change the way we do things, the crisis will continue.

And that is why I am establishing the Ocean Energy Task Force and that’s why it is important.

They are going to develop recommendations on strategies for ocean-based wind, tidal and wave energy.

It is also to update information regarding offshore oil and gas resources that might exist in the waters off Maine and explore the changes in technology that may make those resources available.

Every idea and possibility should be explored.

And we will ensure that the benefits of any enterprise off the Maine coast are carefully weighed against the potential impacts on the environment and our marine industries.

The Task Force will present interim findings by April 1st, with final recommendations due by October 31st.

Developing energy resources in Maine will help create jobs, keep hard earned dollars in Maine, and it also holds the potential to make energy more efficient and affordable, with benefits for homeowners and businesses alike.

By exploring new opportunities and working together in the best interest of the State, we can make Maine a world leader in renewable energy.

We have the natural resources, we have the experts willing to explore new ideas … now all we have to do is be willing to put these new ideas and plans into action.

Thank you – and have a great weekend.

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Energy from Alternative Sources

Supplemental Budget

December 20, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Tuesday, I released details of my plan to balance the State budget for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2009.

These are difficult and harsh times.

The U.S. economy is in a deep recession. Most states are facing serious budget challenges, many on a scale far worse than Maine’s.

We must deal with declining revenues and an increased demand for government services.

In our budget deliberations, we have taken great care to safeguard core government functions and protect the health and safety of our citizens.

But we cannot account for $140 million dollars in reduced revenue without making difficult choices. There are no quick fixes or easy options.

My plan is prudent and responsible.

It cuts spending, but not recklessly.

It utilizes our reserves, but cautiously.

And it keeps an eye toward the future, and the uncertain national economy that we face.

For the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, we are facing a revenue decline of $140 million dollars.

In November, I took aggressive action to cut State spending by about $80 million dollars and also instituted a hard hiring freeze.

Those efforts have helped us to close the budget gap.

The Supplemental Budget I unveiled this week details our plans for dealing with the sharp decline in State revenues.

The budget I presented earlier this week continues the $80 million curtailment.

It also makes additional cuts in programs and services, including closing one housing unit at Charleston Correctional Facility.

The plan eliminates 94 positions, including 40 lay-offs.

State spending will be 2.1 percent, or $66 million, less in 2009 than it was in 2008.

And, under my plan, we will also use $45 million from the State’s reserve account.

The Legislature will reduce its own spending by $1.6 million. Democratic and Republican leaders understand the seriousness of the situation and have worked hard to be part of the solution.

This is the kind of responsible, bipartisan and forward-looking leadership we must have.

There are no new fees or fines.

The supplemental budget does not cut further K-12 education or higher education beyond the amounts included in the original curtailment.

As I considered the options for balancing the 2009 budget, my goal was to protect the public health and safety, and our economy.

It’s a difficult balancing act.

I made the best choices from a list of bad options.

As we get closer to June 30, our options for dealing with potential revenue declines will become more dangerous.

We are fortunate that we have restrained state spending for the past six years, and that we have begun the process of reducing the size of government and improving efficiency in building back our reserves from a negative $275 million to a positive $170 million.

And since taking office we have reduced the size of State government by 729 workers.

We have sought efficiencies in our school administrative districts, in our human services department and in corrections.

We have held spending in check and avoided broad-based tax increases.

We’ve also increased support for K-12 education and higher education, health care and land conservation.

And we’ve made critical investments that are paying dividends even during this difficult economy.

On January 9, I will present a two-year budget to the Legislature.

That budget must also account for declining revenues.

Revenues are projected to drop and additional dollars are required just to keep State government operating at this year’s level.

All told, we will have to close an estimated $838 million dollar budget gap.

It’s an enormous task and it is going to require the best from all of us.

But for now, our top priority must be to pass the supplemental budget with two-thirds support and put it into effect immediately.

So, I urge the Legislature to do its work quickly. Unfortunately, we are going to have more difficult challenges ahead.

But we also have great opportunities.

Maine’s industrial heyday was built on the foundations of cheap energy, harnessed from our rivers.

Industries were born, grew and thrived.

Today, we are on the verge of a new revolution in the production of energy, and Maine is at the forefront.

Just this week I awarded $4.9 million in the Riverfront Community Development Bond Program, grant funding to 14 Maine communities that is going to be able to leverage more than $41.7 million in private and public investments.

Businesses want to be here. Communities are laying the foundation for a bright future.

Optimism matters; negativity breeds decline; and our attitude – about ourselves and our home – sets the boundaries for what is possible. And a lot is possible in Maine.

I know that this is important news, and I also know that next week is another important week on another level. I want to wish the citizens of our State a Happy Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas.

God bless and thank you.

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Supplemental Budget

Holiday Message

December 27, 2008

This is Governor John Baldacci and I greet you this weekend with the warmest of holiday wishes.

Despite all that's going on in the world, we're in a magical time of the year, when people from all over the world and many traditions celebrate important holidays.

Hanukkah – the eight-day Festival of Lights celebrated by those of Jewish faith – began last Sunday night.

Christmas - celebrated this Thursday after a month of television specials, religious services and family get-togethers.

And Kwanzaa – a weeklong celebration honoring African heritage – began this past Friday and will be observed through January 1st.

These holidays have a tendency – even in tough times – to bring out the best in people.

Year after year we hear stories of neighbor-helping-neighbor, stories of compassion and stories that exemplify the spirit of the season.

I recently received a letter from an individual whose father was nearly forced out of his home because of the difficult economy that we are all facing.

She wrote to me and she said, “My father still lives in Glenburn, right outside of Bangor. Back in the 90's (her) father had a motorcycle accident that left him with untreated brain injuries and other medical issues. Since then (her) sister and (herself have) advocated for and on the behalf of (their) father.”

“The least to say this has been a difficult major up hill battle with the medical and legal obligations” piling up.

And “due to the economy this past year (her) sister and (herself) have found it increasingly difficult to help (their father) with any occurring expenses. (They) have found some assistance with food and fuel, but the property taxes hadn't (been paid and were getting) out of hand. (They had) tried several avenues before, but nothing was available for assistance.

“He was to be foreclosed on the 18th and would lose his only place of shelter, his home.

“This is what has prompted my letter to you, Governor. Billy Gaudett, a neighbor, a friend of the community, a good man stepped forward to help my father solve his dilemma. I find this very important as we had exhausted all assistance with town, state and family.

“A good man...a man who has been paralyzed since the 80's. A man who tries to survive just like his own neighbors. A giving man who has taken from his own means of survival and reached out to someone who was in more of desperate need. Billy Gaudett is a true hero in my book.”

Well, he is in my book too. And I wanted to be able to publicly acknowledge the good this man has done, because he represents so many others in our State who give of themselves even when they don’t have it to give.

And that is the true spirit of Christmas.

We find through those actions, happening throughout our State, providing that kind of safety net for our neighbors, for our community and for our State.

That is the true meaning of Christmas – doing something for someone other than ourselves. And that is a holiday spirit that we in Maine are very proud about.

So it’s not about the presents or the food; or the hectic schedules or scrambles that we do. But it is recognizing that we are truly lucky and appreciate the opportunities that we have to live in this great State and this great nation.

Next week, we are going to be initiating the Harold Alfond scholarship for every child born in the State of Maine, a $500 scholarship will be established in their name.

Harold wasn’t from Maine, but he cared deeply about the kids in Maine. And he wanted to make sure all kids – no matter what their background and circumstances were – had an opportunity to achieve the American dream.

To be able to have a foundation for themselves. And they could be able to provide for themselves and be masters of their own future.

Opportunities that he wanted to see spread from one end of Maine to the other.

Harold Alfond has been like a modern-day Santa to many children in the State of Maine and his gift will continue to be given over the years, and recognizing the impact that that is going to have on future generations.

Harold Alfond and Billy Gaudett. Billy, a neighbor, a friend of the community and a good man stepped forward to help out a person to solve their dilemma.

Harold Alfond, an individual who is not from Maine, stepped forward to help all the children of Maine being born this year into the future to have that foundation so that they can provide for themselves and realize the American dream.

So to those two individuals and so many others in our State who they reflect and represent, I want to say thank you.

Thank you for doing what you do, not for recognition, but because by giving you also receive more. That’s the true gift of Christmas and the holiday season.

So, God bless you all, and God bless the State of Maine.

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Holiday Message

New Year

January 3, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Whether you joined the millions in Times Square in New York, the crowd in West Market Square in Bangor or celebrated at home with family and friends, we are all glad to welcome in a new year.

As the new year arrives, it brings with it renewal and a new hope for all that is possible in 2009.

We've moved beyond the winter solstice and the deepest darkness of winter. Each day forward brings longer days, a brighter sun and new optimism.

This past year has been tough.

We've ridden a roller coaster on energy prices, and watched as the country's economy has stumbled into a national recession.

And while there are still tough times ahead, I know that just as the winter days will start to get longer and the sunshine of spring will return, we will move beyond our current challenges to better times.

Here in Maine, our strengths will allow us to overcome the current economic crisis and build a future of prosperity.

We have unparalleled natural resources; we have a superior quality of life; and we have the best people.

I have been saying that for years – but visitors, business people who have come from all over the world to set up shop here in Maine and hire people in Maine.

Whether it’s Boston Financial, or it’s Athena Healthcare, or NotifyMD, it’s always been about the people. It’s really the people that draw people and opportunities to this State.

So if we continue to work hard to protect those things that make Maine special; invest in our ability to capture clean, renewable energy; and if we continue to display our world-renowned work ethic, we are going to make it through these difficult times.

And we have a couple of examples of that.

Just a few weeks ago I was visiting the Maine Diner in Wells. They were welcoming their five millionth customer.

It was a way for them to promote their business and also draw in customers and to be able to recognize that there are going to be tough times.

But as the owners had told me, they got the workers together, and they said “We have been through tough times before and we have gotten through it. And we are going to go through tough times again. But if we can work together, we are going to be able to be successful and come out of this stronger, better, and be able to recognize the future opportunities that are in front of us.”

Well, that is the same type of mindset and leadership that will help all of us through this economic storm.

And you’ve seen it. Whether it’s an ice storm or a financial ice storm - when you look out for each other, when you support each other, when you’re “neighbor helping neighbor” and have a can-do attitude, we can go a long way and we are going to get through this.

Week after week this fall, we saw another example from the attitude of another Mainer.

On December 14th, it was Bob Crowly – better known as "Survivor Bob.” He was crowned the winner of the 17th season of TV reality show, "Survivor."

Bob didn't have it easy and it is fair to say that no previous winner of Survivor ever has.

But he saw what needed to be done, he maintained a winning attitude, and he took home a $1 million prize as a result.

Bob is a teacher at Gorham high School with a dedicated attitude. In fact, despite winning $1 million dollars on December 14th, his students were still given a previously scheduled exam on December 15th. Now that is a good, determined teacher who sticks to his plan and he is going to have good students as a result!

What I also like about Bob is the fact that in winning the Survivor series, he never became someone who he wasn’t. He always represented Maine. He was “Bob from Maine.” He was Bob representing Maine, the ambassador from Maine. He was Bob sticking to his basic values and never having to do things that he would live to regret later on.

So that’s why if we look at our State and we look at our natural resources and we look at the people of our State, it’s recognizing the strengths of both and being able to make sure that working together and utilizing those natural strengths that we have and not trying to be somebody that we’re not, we can attain and achieve the opportunities here in our State.

So we don’t have to see our children leave and go elsewhere finding opportunity. So they can find it here along with their children and grandchildren.

This State is a great State. And we are going to have great opportunities.

If we work together and look out for each other – it’s neighbor helping neighbor, people pulling together regardless of democrat republican or independent, and what’s good for people and what’s good for the State. And that’s what we need to focus on in this New Year.

So thank you for listening and Happy New Year to each and every one of you. And God bless our troops and their families.

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New Year

Biennial Budget

January 10, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

We are in the midst of a national crisis, the likes of which have not been seen in a generation.

Our country is mired in a recession.

And we are all called upon to do our part to get through this difficult time.

On Friday, I released the details of my two-year biennial budget.

To balance it, we must prepare our State for recovery, requiring shared sacrifice now and a commitment to work together for the greater good.

We must account for an additional $330 million dollar decline in revenues caused by a weakened national economy on top of the existing gap of $508 million dollars, making the total deficit $838 million dollars.

The task is daunting and will require all of us – working together in a spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship – to find the best path forward.

The proposed budget will be $6.1 billion dollars, about $200 million dollars less than the previous budget.

According to records dating back to 1974, this will be the first time that a biennial budget has been smaller than its predecessor.

Despite the necessity of budget cuts, I have taken great care to safeguard core government responsibilities:

• Keeping police on the streets; • Maintaining the State’s ability to respond to emergencies; • Protecting vulnerable populations – our children, our elderly and our disabled; • And limiting, when possible, the ripple impacts of necessary spending reductions on Maine’s economy.

Make no mistake: Many of the proposals I have presented will have real impacts and will test our resolve.

There will be temptations to raise broad-based taxes to support important programs.

But raising the sales or income tax to support spending is not the right approach, especially during this deep recession.

Every part of State government and the programs and services it supports have a responsibility to share in the sacrifices imposed by this recession.

I know that State employees are already being asked to shoulder many of the impacts of constrained spending. But we must do more.

• This budget eliminates 219 positions, moving the number of State employees to the lowest level since at least 1983.

• State employees who earn more than $50,000 a year will be required to pay a portion of their health insurance costs.

• And we have also developed an early retirement incentive program that is designed to reduce State employment by $7.2 million a year.

• And the hiring freeze will continue.

I am also asking municipalities, businesses and individuals to do their part.

• We will reduce by 10 percent the Circuit Breaker Program, the BETR Program, the Maine Tree Growth Program and the State-municipal revenue sharing program.

• The only fee increases are in the Marine Resources, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and Conservation departments. And those fees will be used to partially offset the proposed cuts in frontline law enforcement.

• The total amount of those fees are $4.1 million dollars out of a $6.1 billion dollar budget.

• And we are seeking to authorize the Department of Corrections to transfer prisoners to facilities out of State.

I know that this proposal will be controversial, and will be met with opposition from many people I know and respect, including corrections officers who put their lives on the line.

The plan will help us though contain costs in one of the few areas of State government that will receive more money in this budget than in the last.

This two-year budget includes many difficult, but necessary choices.

It recognizes that regardless of our current circumstances though, we must keep an eye toward the future and invest in those areas that will create economic strength.

Even as we struggle to overcome this recession, we know we must invest in those things that will make our State stronger.

Our budget invests new money in childhood immunizations.

It maintains the Red Tide monitoring program, and protecting our important shellfishing industry.

And I am not cutting front line law enforcement - State Troopers, Game Wardens and Marine Patrol.

I have also worked hard to limit the effects of the recession on education.

In this two-year budget, funding for K-12 will be maintained in general purpose aid to education at $959 million dollars per year.

And we will reduce funding for higher education by 2.4 percent, a much smaller cut than was required of our universities and community colleges in 2009.

While these reductions will still require hard choices in communities around Maine, I recognize that a quality education is the cornerstone of our economy.

So we have put those limited resources behind our children. They’re our best investment and they’re the investment for the future.

Maine will be tested by this national economic crisis and other unforeseen challenges.

But our parents and grandparents suffered through the Depression and World Wars. They understood that tough times require sacrifice and ingenuity.

They made those tough choices and built a more prosperous world.

And we will do the same.

Thank you and God bless.

Related Documents

Biennial Budget

Historic Week

January 17, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

In the coming days, we will all be witness to history.

I remember well Sen. Barack Obama’s surprise victory in the Iowa caucuses – a win that began his steady march toward the White House.

The odds, seemingly, were stacked against this relative newcomer to national politics.

But Barack Obama captured the imagination of a country ready to turn the page on the divisions of the past.

He delivered an honest message of hope and renewal that spread across the country, drawing hundreds of thousands who were anxious to hear his words.

The primary season officially came to a close in August when more than 38 million Americans watched Barack Obama deliver his acceptance speech from Denver, Colorado at the Democratic National Convention.

Then, later on, in the fall, more than 71 million people watched history unfold on election night, as he was officially declared President-elect of the United States of America.

This man, of Chicago and of the world, has excited a nation.

And he will make history on Tuesday when he takes the oath of office in Washington.

This week, Democrats, Republicans and independents across the country and around the world will watch with pride as Barack Obama is sworn-in as our nation’s 44th President of the United States and our first African-American President.

Politics aside, the inauguration represents a turning point in our country.

And it is appropriate that the ceremony is happening within days of what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 80th birthday.

Dr. King fought during his lifetime to breakdown the prejudices that tore at the soul of America.

The struggle cost him his life, but his dream of a more just nation lived on, inspiring countless men and women to take up his cause.

And in 1963, more than 200,000 people converged on the Lincoln Memorial and heard Dr. King utter some of the most famous words ever spoken when he said that he had “a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal.”

And on Tuesday, perhaps as many as 2 million people will brave the chill of the winter to see Barack Obama take the Oath of Office and deliver his first words as President of the United States of America.

No doubt, many of them will stand on the same piece of ground where a generation before crowds gathered to hear Dr. King.

Untold millions will watch on TV and listen on the radio as the words will ring to the Lincoln Memorial, where over 100 years ago President Abraham Lincoln united a nation during the Civil War.

And we will all watch and tell our children and grandchildren, and their children what we saw and what we heard.

With this new president and this new administration, we have a new partner for this and every State in our country.

Within a month of being elected, President-elect Obama called an unprecedented meeting with the nation’s Governors.

Never before had governors been invited to meet with an incoming administration so quickly.

President-elect Obama told us that the deep challenges will require that we put all party lines and divisions aside.

He extended a hand of friendship to Democrats and Republicans alike, and offered to be a partner to the States.

Governors, he said, wouldn’t be just asked to implement his plan or follow his lead, but he was seeking our advice and counsel in creating an economic recovery plan for our nation.

President-elect Obama understands that in order to rebuild America, every state must be engaged and involved in the process if it is going to work.

We face a national economic crisis. And we need a robust, national response.

We need to recognize that we are also part of the solution, requiring all of us in communities, families and businesses throughout the State of Maine and the country, we all need to work together and pull together. And through this we will become stronger, better, and find more opportunities for our children and grandchildren in the future.

At the beginning, all things seem possible.

Those are the feelings that transcend party lines and political labels.

And President-elect Barack Obama understands that the spirit of America is a spirit which lives for generations and will continue to grow and prosper, not only here, but around the world.

Thanks for listening – and have a great weekend.

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Historic Week

Budget of Change

January 24, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

I would like to begin this week’s radio address by offering a word of congratulations again to our new President, Barack Obama.

President Obama was inaugurated in Washington this past Tuesday just after noon, making history.

January 20th was the culmination of more than two years of campaigning that invigorated millions of young voters and inspired hope among Americans and others around the world.

His campaign, his comments since being elected, have largely revolved around the theme of “change.” We have got to change the way we are doing business.

The new President and his administration, he says that Americans can expect to see a lot of change throughout his first term.

Here in Maine, we will be undergoing more change as well.

A couple of weeks ago, I presented the Legislature my proposal for the next biennial budget.

We are facing a national economic crisis – the worst recession since the Great Depression. State revenues are down while the cost of products and services continue to rise.

It is my legal responsibility to present a balanced budget to the Legislature and people of Maine every two years.

Just like in a household budget, when the State’s income does not match the State’s expenditures, you have to do one of two things: cut spending, or increase revenues, or both.

For the next two-year budget, the discrepancy between revenues and spending was about $838 million dollars. And in order to close the budget gap, I faced those two paths.

Now is not the time to raise broad-based taxes to balance our State budget.

Families are struggling. Higher sales or income taxes are not the answer.

Instead, I made the decision to change.

To propose changes to the administration of our government, the way they do things, the way services are delivered to the Mainers who need them, and the way government is delivering it to our citizens.

We must work to prepare our State for recovery. It requires a shared sacrifice now and a commitment to work together for the greater good.

We cannot tolerate unnecessary spending in this time of economic crisis. Every part of the budget has been closely examined and scrutinized.

My proposal for the 2-year budget is about $200 million dollars less than the previous budget.

This will be the first time in at least 35 years that a biennial budget has been smaller than its predecessor.

Although cuts need to be made, we have made them carefully, keeping in mind the best interests of the people of our State.

I have made it a priority to keep our State safe by maintaining the staffing levels of our first responders and front line law enforcement;

I made it a priority to protect our most vulnerable citizens – our children, elderly and disabled;

And I made it a priority to continue investments in our areas our State needs in order to grow – such as research and development, and investments in our children and our grandchildren’s future.

Now I know there have been – and will continue to be disagreements with ideas that I have proposed.

I am already working with members of the Legislature on alternative ideas, and I will on continue to listen to other ideas as they are brought to the table.

So I encourage you, the citizens of our State, if you have questions…ask them. If you have concerns…raise them.

This will be a difficult time.

Many of the proposals are going to have real impacts and will test us as a people and as a State.

But the sacrifices will be shared across all of Maine.

And this is a time when we need to pull together.

We have been through tough times before. Our grandparents and parents went through the Great Depression and world wars and we pulled through.

And we are going to be able to do it again … together … stronger … and holding true to the ideals that make us, our families, our State special.

As Martin Luther King said, we are not judged in times of tranquility, but in times of adversity.

So now is the time to step forward, make the tough choices, build a new foundation, a new way of doing things, for not only ourselves but for future generations.

We can do it…and I am sure of it.

I want to thank you for listening and please have a nice day.

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Budget of Change

Supplemental Budget Signing

January 31, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, the State of Maine took a very important step in dealing with the economic crisis that our State and nation faces.

After careful consideration, opportunities for public input and weeks of hard work, the Legislature passed – and I signed -- the Supplemental Budget for the Fiscal Year 2009.

With my signature, the budget will be balanced for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends June 30th.

I presented my proposed supplemental budget in mid-December to fill the gap of $140 million dollars that was caused by our national economic crisis, which led to lower than expected State revenues.

When I presented the proposal, I said that although cuts would have to be made to balance the budget, I took great care to safeguard core government functions, to protect the health and safety of our citizens, and also to make sure that we protect Maine’s economy.

And it was – and continues to be - a difficult balancing act.

Over the past month and a half, the Legislature has worked quickly and prudently to maintain our core responsibilities as a government, while dealing with the reality of our current economic situation.

The supplemental budget required all of us to make difficult choices, and it’s clear that business as usual isn’t good enough for the turmoil we face.

The true test of leadership comes during these hard times.

In dealing with the budget, the Legislature has demonstrated that Maine is able to put partisanship and parochial interests aside in order to do what’s right for the State.

The Appropriations Committee, under the leadership of Sen. Bill Diamond, Rep. Emily Cain, Sen. Richard Rosen and Rep. Sawin Millett set the appropriate tone for the process that was open, fair and expedited.

They recognized the challenges we face in the current fiscal year require immediate action, and they worked together to get the job done.

I also want to give credit to the other Committee chairs and leads. I learned last week from Sen. Diamond, almost 99 percent of the committee recommendations were accepted by the Appropriations Committee.

It’s an excellent example of a successful, collaborative process.

President Mitchell, Speaker Pingree, Leader Kevin Raye and Leader Josh Tardy have set the example of good-faith negotiations and bipartisanship.

They were able to work beyond the hurdles and tough choices that are always part of closing a budget.

The supplemental budget is unfortunately just a warm up for the larger biennial budget gap that we are facing going forward.

In early January, by law, I issued a proposal for the biennial budget, which covers 2010 and 2011 and continues the work that was put forward in the supplemental budget:

 It changes the way government provides services and conducts its business;  It reforms and reduces administration;  And it makes sure that we are being as frugal as possible with the taxpayers’ money, by living under the spending caps in law for State government.

Cutting spending is never easy, but the national economic crisis has made it a necessity and the law requires a balanced budget.

And when all is said and done, the budget I proposed is about $200 million dollars less than its predecessor. It is the first time that has happened since 1974, that the biennial budget presented is less than its predecessor.

The silver lining in the process is that because we are working together to reform and find efficiencies in State government right now, we are preparing a more efficient State, with a more sensible structure, and a firm foundation for our children and grandchildren to grow and prosper and raise their families here.

Further, I have kept my commitment not to raise taxes in this proposal in order to fill the budget hole, or to break the frayed safety net for our most vulnerable citizens – our elderly, our children, and our disabled.

Times are tough now, but the economy will rebound.

And when it does, Maine will be better positioned to serve the people of this State and it will be more efficient and be able to take full advantage of the 21st century.

The passage and signing of the supplemental budget earlier this week was an important first step.

But we have much more work to do and it will require all of us to keep working together in order to get it done.

Thank you for listening, and have a great weekend.

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Supplemental Budget Signing

Our Strengths Will Move us Forward

February 7, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

We don't have to look very hard to find evidence that the country is going through a challenging time.

Hours are getting cut back, people are getting laid off, plants are closing.

And our first priority must be to revive our economy and create jobs and get people back to work so they can support themselves and their families.

We have got to make our decisions with an eye toward the future and use this opportunity to better position Maine for that economic recovery.

I know that we can make the tough decisions today that will lay that groundwork for prosperity to come.

I am confident about the future of our State.

I am confident because we have the best abundant natural resources. We don’t have to import them. We have them right here in front of us.

I see it every day that I travel around the State doing the people's business.

From wood and water and wind, to our incredible outdoor recreation, Maine has what it needs to be successful.

But our strength goes beyond the thick forests, the clean water and strong winds. We also have the best people.

Mainers have the reputation around the world for being resourceful, hard-working and showing every single day the work they do in their communities and their involvement that their reputation is very well deserved.

But our assets – and the potential they hold for the future – don't relieve our obligation to change with the demands of a new age.

We cannot be afraid to change; we cannot be afraid to improve.

For government, that means we cannot keep obsolete, inefficient administrative structures in place that were designed decades ago.

I see firsthand the talent and drive of our people.

I understand how hard it is for them to make ends meet during this economic crisis.

And I know it is difficult to start and grow a business, especially now.

That's why I am so committed to reforming government.

Outdated, outmoded, redundant bureaucracies, draining resources from where we need them the most – with our teachers in the classrooms, with our students, in our laboratories and on the frontlines where government and people meet.

I met earlier this week with the Southern Maine Regional Water Council – and my hat is off to them.

Seven water districts in Southern Maine have come together and worked together in an effort to save money and better manage the natural resource.

That natural resource is the Sebago Lake and the Saco River – the drinking water sources for 250,000 people in Southern Maine.

Through their collaboration, they are saving money and they’re doing a better job of protecting an important natural resource.

And when it comes to those natural resources here in Maine, we are the envy of New England.

We need to put the strength of those natural resources to work and lay claim to a new era of energy independence and economic strength.

Right now in our State, there are billions of dollars worth of energy projects being proposed.

The offer before us is a tremendous opportunity.

I went to the opening of the largest wind in New England in Danforth, Maine a couple of weeks ago.

First Wind invested $50 million dollars with Maine businesses, created 350 jobs in just the development and construction of the project.

During good times, Maine has relied upon its manufacturing and production sectors. Our economy is changing and becoming more diverse, but our economic future and our energy future are still tied closely together.

Talk to Maine's largest industries and they'll tell you the biggest challenges in doing business here are the high energy costs and transportations costs.

And right now we have an opportunity to take and develop less expensive, renewable energy domestic to Maine, not having to be imported; invest in a transportation network that does more with rails – passenger and freight – becomes more efficient in moving people and goods.

We need to embrace the opportunities that we have in front of us and we need to invest in tomorrow.

But Maine can't do it alone. We need an active and supportive federal partner too.

The federal Stimulus package that has everyone's attention right now will help us continue those investments where they are needed the most, and will do the most to strengthen Maine's foundation for growth.

If Washington will act and give Maine – and other states – the support we need during this national recession, our economy will recover.

People will be able to get back to work, and they will do it in a way that supports themselves and their family not just for today, but for tomorrow.

It is important to me that you are aware of what is going on with the federal economic stimulus package, and it is going to be completely transparent and readily available to the people of Maine.

I have created a link on the State Web site for Mainers to keep up to date with the stimulus package – just visit maine-dot-gov and click on the link for The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Make no mistake, the short term will be difficult and it will be hard work.

And if we concentrate and focus on our natural strengths and ability, our resources and our people, we will move forward and we will do it together.

Thank you for listening, and have a great weekend.

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Our Strengths Will Move us Forward

Economic Stimulus Support

February 14, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

The State of Maine has good reason to be proud this week because of the work done by our elected officials in Washington.

On Wednesday afternoon – largely thanks to the efforts of Maine’s two Senators – an agreement was reached on an economic stimulus package for our country.

Although at the beginning of the weekend we are still not sure of what the final package will look like, I would like to congratulate and thank Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins for the difficult work they have done in regards to getting this agreement.

Our two senators have stood for what is right for our State and for our country.

Combined with the good work of Rep. Mike Michaud and Rep. Chellie Pingree, both in the House of Representatives laying the foundation for the final stimulus package, Maine has a very powerful and influential Congressional delegation that has proven itself capable and willing to work with the new Obama administration.

The United States economy is on the brink of a severe recession. People and families in our State are in a constant struggle, fighting for their jobs and homes every single day.

This is not what comes to mind when one thinks of the “American Dream.”

Rather, The American Dream, as originally described by James Adams in 1931, is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

We are experiencing an economy where people are getting laid off, which results in fewer dollars being spent, which results in more layoffs…and so the cycle goes. This is hardly “The American Dream” that James Adams wrote of … and that is a problem.

But while government is not the solution to all problems, it can be part of the solution to this problem.

Only the federal government has the power and ability to inject an amount of money into our economy large enough to pull it out of this downward spiral…

Only the federal government has the reach to create a stimulus package that not only creates jobs from coast to coast, but builds a foundation that will create positive ripples, impacting nearly every industry in this country…

And only the federal government has the broad authority to affect taxes, provide critical aid to State and local governments, protect our most vulnerable citizens and make massive investments in infrastructure – transmission lines, energy grids, roads, bridges, rails and ports, and airports - all at the same time.

President Obama understands this…and I am proud to say Maine’s two senators understand this as well.

The pressure on the Senators has been immense. But rather than buckling under, they have stood tall and strong in displaying leadership qualities that should make this state proud.

They have shown that they are willing to put the interests of their country and their state above ideology.

Sen. Collins and Sen. Snowe and Sen. Spector were instrumental in forming the coalition to help pass the stimulus package.

The work they have been doing is unbelievably difficult and, unfortunately, all too often thankless.

In the House of Representatives, we have been very well served with the leadership of Congressman Mike Michaud and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.

They recognized early on the importance of investing in the economic recovery. They know first hand that people are hurting, families are struggling, businesses are going out of business.

They know the need to be able to find the balance between fiscal discipline and the need to invest.

They recognize that this package has been the progress of a lot of people working together and they have fought hard to build that foundation, so we want to thank them for their leadership and hard work.

Maine is so fortunate to have a delegation who may be small in number, but they are very influential in regards to what’s taking place in Washington in both the House and in the Senate.

The progress of this package has been – and will continue to be – completely transparent. If you go to our Web site – www.maine.gov, you can click on a link with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

That link will give you the most up-to-date information on the stimulus package and how it affects Maine. As it progresses, you will be able to track every dollar that comes in to Maine from this package, and how it is spent.

There have been many changes and many disagreements to the original stimulus package, proposed by the President. However, at this point the original purpose of the bill remains in tact.

It is to create jobs.

It is to reduce the burden that has been placed on working Americans and small businesses.

And it is about building an infrastructure that will make our economy stronger in the future.

The investments are sorely needed. The struggles already exist and without the stimulus package, they would have only gotten much worse.

Although the economic stimulus package will not solve all of our problems, it is my hope that it will be a giant step forward, but it is going to require all of us to take the next step together.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Economic Stimulus Support

Economic Stimulus Put to Work

February 21, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Tuesday, President Obama signed into law the much anticipated federal economic stimulus package.

Known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, this law will invest hundreds of billions of dollars into the State and national economy.

While there was much debate and disagreement throughout the process, the goals of the stimulus package have remained intact: one is to create jobs, two is to avoid layoffs, and three is to invest in education and clean and green energy, and to make sure that our safety net is sound.

In order to ensure that the money is used for its original intent, the federal government has attached strict criteria to the flow of those dollars. There is very little discretion allowed in how the money is spent.

All States, including Maine, will see investments in roads, bridges, clean water and sewer projects, energy and education. While the actual amount that will come to Maine is still being sorted out, we know, for example, we could see the number of Department of Transportation construction projects double this construction season.

Such investment will create a transformative moment, an opportunity to build for the future while at the same time putting people back to work.

It is extremely important that projects begin quickly, and that people are put back to work immediately. Only under that scenario will unemployed Mainers and Americans begin to see paychecks again…begin to spend money again…and we’ll begin to see the economy get back on track again.

While there is genuine excitement in the air about the stimulus plan and the money that will be invested in Maine, it’s important to keep in context that it will not solve all of Maine’s problems and won’t bring an instant fix to our economy by itself.

Estimates from the White House suggest the stimulus could create 15,000 jobs in Maine. Last year, the state lost about the same number of jobs as the national recession deepened.

The federal stimulus package does not allow us to end our obligation to maintain fiscal discipline. We must continue to seek out efficiencies at all levels of government, and control the growth of state programs to match those revenues.

The money is helpful, but it’s temporary.

We need to make smart choices now, so we will be better positioned in the future, not only for economic recovery and growth, but for balancing our budget and our tax burden being relieved for our citizens and businesses.

President Obama has maintained that the stimulus package be made transparent to the public, allowing people throughout the country to see how dollars are being spent in their home states.

In Maine, we have made it easy for you to track the progress of federal money coming into our State. Visit our Web site at www.maine.gov and click on “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” on the left-hand side of the screen.

That link will give you the most up-to-date information on the stimulus package, how it affects Maine, and as it progresses, you will be able to track every dollar that comes in to Maine from this package, and how it is spent.

The Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Ryan Low, has been given the responsibility by me to ensure that we appropriately monitor every new dollar coming into the state, track how it is used, determine the number of jobs created and put all of that information into a format accessible to everyone.

Individual accounts will be established to keep the flow of federal dollars from being co-mingled with other sources of revenue. This will ensure accurate accounting for every new dollar coming into Maine.

The purpose of the stimulus is to get money into the economy as quickly as possible. For some areas, that means listing projects within 10 days, breaking ground in as little as 90 days.

But there is also a demand for unprecedented accountability.

Allocations of the new federal money cannot flow through traditional processes. It’s too slow. However, it is important to me that the Maine Legislature has an oversight responsibility in any stimulus related allocations.

Every state department and agency will be required to consult with their committee of jurisdiction before any spending plans will be approved by my office.

It’s important that the elected representatives – republicans and democrats and joint leadership - serving in the Legislature be given the opportunity for active participation in this process. Their oversight will help us to make the best uses of the new resources coming into Maine.

The stimulus plan presents a significant opportunity, but it will not – and can not – solve every problem.

We need to understand that this is a giant step, it’s one that is greatly appreciated, but at the same time there must be additional steps that we take together to make our state stronger into the future.

We must act quickly to put the resources to work, hold ourselves accountable for our actions and decisions, and to continue to practice fiscal responsibility in the State of Maine.

By doing this and working together toward the same goals and ideals of those jobs being provided here in our state and opportunities for our people here in Maine first, we are going to be able to pull through this difficult time and see a brighter future ahead.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Economic Stimulus Put to Work

Recovery

February 28, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Last weekend I traveled to Washington for the National Governor’s Association winter meeting.

The meetings are always a good opportunity to exchange ideas and for Governors to work towards common goals.

But this year’s meeting took on a new importance.

Our country is facing an unprecedented economic crisis that is hurting many families in Maine and around the country.

In meetings with the President and his administration, I learned firsthand many of the details of a comprehensive recovery plan that will revive our economy and, as the president said, build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.

The Governors heard the message loud and clear.

The President and members of Congress have placed responsibility on the nation’s governors to ensure that the Recovery Act funds are used wisely, immediately, and in a transparent fashion.

My Administration has been working for many weeks now in conjunction with the President and Congress and our State Legislature to ensure that we are prepared for the new investments that will come to Maine.

Just a couple of weeks ago, President Obama signed into law the bill that will bring new resources to Maine and the rest of the country – The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The recovery plan will create or save 3.5 million jobs, putting our people back to work and rebuilding our critical infrastructure.

The recovery plan will make our roads stronger, bridges safer, water cleaner, and our energy more renewable. It will help grow our economy.

On Thursday Maine took a major step toward fulfilling the Recovery Act’s promise of new jobs and new investments in infrastructure.

The Maine Department of Transportation has worked for nearly two months preparing a possible recovery plan that invests in our State’s highways and bridges.

They set the stage for quick action, even as we were unsure of how much or when the resources would be flowing to Maine.

The first project on the DOT list is the I-295 Northbound project. It will essentially mirror the work that was done between West Gardiner and Topsham on the I-295 Southbound last year.

We announced the apparent low bidder of this thirty-one and a half million dollar project on Thursday afternoon. Pike Industries, a proven company with a solid track record completing major projects in Maine, is that bidder.

With resources made available by the Recovery Act, Maine will rehabilitate almost 24 miles of Interstate Highway, putting about 800 Maine people back to work, and making necessary investments in our infrastructure.

That Northbound project is the state’s top highway priority. It is the largest single project proposed by MaineDOT for recovery funds.

It was built in the 1970s, and it is falling apart.

295 is crucial to Maine’s economy.

It is a major thorough-fare for moving goods into and out of our state. It is the backbone of our highway interstate system. It connects population centers, and provides a major route for our important tourism industry.

It is estimated that close to 60 – 70 percent of Maine’s GDP of $48 billion travels on that road back and forth.

But there will also be important and immediate benefits to this project.

We know that a good job is the best social service program.

And by investing in transportation projects, we invest in our people, in our business, and we connect them to markets where I know they can compete with anyone.

It’s important to recognize that this project is only part of $138 million dollars worth of projects provided by the recovery funds.

Taken together with the State’s annual work program that will be totaling $279 million, the combined impact of this work – recovery and non-recovery projects – will estimate about 11,000 jobs, given a formula by the Federal Highway Administration.

11,000 jobs this spring, summer and fall gives us a great foundation to build from.

And as the President said Tuesday night, this investment will help to build that foundation of lasting prosperity.

But the recognition can’t stop with the President.

The economic recovery package is already starting to put people back to work here in Maine and around the country.

It wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and courage of Maine’s congressional delegation.

In the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Congressman Mike Michaud laid the foundation for a strong package of investments in critical areas like health care, transportation, education and new energy technology.

And in the Senate, Senator Collins and Senator Snowe showed tremendous courage, putting the interests of the State and the country ahead of ideology and partisan pressure.

They delivered for Maine when many of their colleagues could not or would not.

Because of our President and our congressional delegation, there is hope on the horizon and a great sense of optimism that is beginning to flow through the country.

The Recovery Act will not fix all of the economic problems in America immediately, but it is a bold first step that will produce results both immediately and well into the future.

Thank you for listening, and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Recovery

Pursuing Energy Independence

March 14, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week I unveiled my vision of a Maine that is more energy independent.

A full 80 percent or more of Maine homes are currently heated with oil. Our State is one of the most dependent on this fossil fuel, and that is not a distinction to be proud of.

An overdependence on heating with oil jeopardizes our national security, it harms our environment and our health, and has left us at the mercy of markets and foreign powers over which we have little control.

We can do better; we must do better, for our economy and our children’s future.

Most of the money spent on oil is a dollar that leaves out of this State.

We can put those dollars to work right here in Maine. We can grow green jobs that will keep our young people home, earning a good living in a place they love.

We can take advantage of our location on the eastern seaboard, between eastern Canadian provinces and southern New England, to be an energy hub for the region and the nation.

Our natural resources, used wisely and in a sustainable way, present us with great opportunities.

We need to develop diverse clean, renewable energy sources.

Maine is on the way.

When prices spiked last summer, we took immediate action to begin fighting our oil addiction, with a new emphasis on making homes more energy efficient.

We increased funding for weatherization, cutting energy bills for families.

And we put technology to work, streaming live video to classrooms across the State, so we could expand training for homeowners and professionals so they would get the information they need to reduce energy consumption.

Much has been accomplished, but we must do more.

First, we will put all of our energy efforts under one roof so they are more closely coordinated and more easily accessible to Maine families and businesses.

We will invest in clean, renewable sources of power. Whether from the sun, wind, tidal, or forests, Maine has an abundant source of energy generation potential.

We have two of the largest operating wind farms in New England already, and billions of dollars in proposed projects on the way.

To advance renewable energy projects off the coast of Maine, I propose using $7.5 million dollars to support the development of premier offshore testing site for wind energy for the country.

Using funds from the Recovery Act, we will build on our energy conservation and weatherization efforts.

The Recovery Act includes $32 million dollars to weatherize homes for low-income families, and we will be adding access to another $100 million for middle-class families.

We will set aggressive goals to weatherize every home in Maine and half of our businesses in the next 20 years.

Maine banks and credit unions will help us to accomplish home energy improvements, and the State will guarantee loans to access up to $100 million dollars of private capital.

In one simple process, Mainers be able to save money on mortgages by refinancing, improve home values, and cut utility bills.

We will combine the efforts of the Department of Labor, Maine State Housing, the Public Utilities Commission, working with our universities and community colleges to create a green-collar workforce that is second to none.

And we’ll help young workers who will then help us meet our energy goals. This summer we will have our own Weatherization Corps of young workers, who will learn important life and job skills right on the job by working on energy related projects.

And we will work on building more reliable transmission and greater capacity to handle the new energy resources that are being developed.

It’s important that we improve Maine’s electrical grid and transmission corridors to better link Maine to New Brunswick and the rest of New England. There are privately-funded projects moving forward now, worth billions of dollars, employing thousands of workers.

Maine’s strengths, especially our people and natural resources, put us in a unique position in this time in history. We need to invest now to create jobs and to strengthen our economy.

There’s a new era of opportunity and prosperity on the horizon. We will get there by working together.

Thank you for listening, and have a great weekend.

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Pursuing Energy Independence

Spring Energy

March 21, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

After a full season of overwhelming snowstorms and record cold temperatures and an ice storm or two, we are finally enjoying the first weekend of spring.

It soon will be warmer, the snow will melt and the sounds of snowsleds and snowplows will change to the sounds of motorcycles and children playing outdoors.

Springtime represents renewed feelings of hope and optimism, and the realization that brighter days are ahead.

And I firmly believe that brighter days are ahead.

While the weather is getting warmer, we need to continue thinking about alternative sources of energy.

We were lucky this winter that prices for heating oil and gasoline have remained relatively low. But let’s not forget - high energy prices were one of the leading factors that threw us into a very deep and prolonged recession.

And let’s not forget that a year ago gasoline was three dollars a gallon and rising.

And despite the fact that heating oil is hovering around a little more than two-dollars a gallon, many Mainers locked in with oil prices up around four dollars a gallon last summer.

So we continue to suffer at the hand of high oil prices.

The price of foreign sources of energy is unstable at best and potentially financially crippling at worst.

We cannot lose our energy focus as the days get warmer. We must concentrate on alternative forms of energy – renewable forms of energy.

Wind, water, wood and solar are all renewable forms of energy and readily available right here in the State of Maine.

And when we harness the energy in the State of Maine, we create jobs in this State.

The Stetson Wind Farm in Danforth, Maine celebrated its start-up two months ago. Through the development and construction of that project, 350 jobs were created and about $50 million dollars was spent with Maine businesses.

Now the project is up and running and providing sustainable jobs in Washington County; clean, renewable power to our energy grid.

Earlier this month, an expansion of Stetson Wind Farm known as “Stetson Two” was approved by the Land Use Regulation Commission, giving the green light to the $60 million dollar project, which will create 350 additional construction jobs in the process.

The Stetson Wind Farm is already the largest operating wind farm in New England and there are billions of dollars more in proposed projects on the way.

Wind is abundant in our State and off our coast. Turbines placed off the coast of Maine have the potential to produce more than 133 gigawatts of electricity. That’s just from wind alone.

That’s almost as much electricity as 40 nuclear power plants.

Building those turbines, operating that project – it has the potential to create good jobs here in our State.

There’s also impressive work happening in the development of tidal power, which captures the movement of the ocean to generate electricity. Ocean Renewable Power Company is field testing tidal power turbines right now near Eastport.

Wood pellets are being manufactured and used for heat throughout Maine.

In SAD 58, Superintendent Quentin Clark is heating one of his schools with wood pellets made eight miles away. The pellets are made in Franklin County, provided by a facility in Strong, Maine. Superintendent Clark wants to expand this program to every school in his district.

This is the kind of forward thinking we need to create our own energy independence and jobs in our State to support it.

Solar, hydroelectric and the potential for pumped storage also hold great opportunities for Maine.

Maine sits at the center of a growing energy hub, not only for us but for all of New England.

To the north in Canada, there are vast sources of clean, cheap and renewable energy. To the south, millions of people hungry for renewable, clean, reliable energy supplies.

Our location puts us in a position to become a renewable energy engine for our country. We can help deliver on the promise of a new energy future – one that reduces the impact on our climate; stabilizes and reduces the cost of electricity for Maine.

But if we want to capitalize on our advantages, we have got to be prepared to be aggressive.

We must transform our economy from oil and utilize more electricity for our energy needs. So we must strengthen and improve our electrical grid.

That means more reliable transmission and greater capacity to handle the new energy sources that are being developed.

The Maine Power Reliability Project will add over 2,000 jobs for nearly 4 years in our State, being able to make sure that our electrical grid has a reliability to it that should be there in cases of brown outs or black outs.

I am very excited about this project and the potential, but there are many other projects – billions of dollars to be expended and thousands of people to be put to work.

We need to be open to new ideas. We need to be able to work together to put every idea on the table in order for us to succeed.

The end result will give Maine more jobs, more opportunities, more energy security, and a leading position in our region’s energy future.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Spring Energy

Investment Strategy

March 7, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This past week has been a tough one with two announcements of plant closures in our State.

Wednesday, it was RR Donnelly in Wells announcing they plan to stop operations in June, putting 370 people out of work.

Then, a day later, the Domtar mill in Baileyville, Washington County, announced it would idle its pulp facility in May for an indefinite period of time, affecting an additional 300 workers.

I have been in close contact with officials in both communities, the legislative delegation and also with labor union representatives. We are going to help to mitigate the impact in working with those communities, and the workers and their families.

These announcements are indicative of the times we are living in right now. The global economy is severely struggling. People and businesses are having a hard time making ends meet.

But now, more than ever, it is important to invest in our people, invest in our businesses, in our infrastructure and our State, so that they have the latest technology, they’re energy efficient, and be able to compete successfully in a very competitive global environment.

President Obama started the ball rolling with the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

And while the Recovery Act is substantial, we must do more on the local level as well.

So this past week I released the details of a three-year, $306 million dollar investment strategy.

The bonds outlined in the State’s investment strategy will make critical investments in energy independence, highways and bridges, passenger and freight rail, higher education, innovation and the environment.

In addition, Maine’s $306 million dollar investment will attract matching funds, putting more than $600 million dollars into the total economy.

The investment package includes:

$127.8 million dollars for transportation projects;

$52 million dollars for energy efficiency upgrades and building improvements at our State’s universities, community colleges and at the Maine Maritime Academy;

$15.5 million dollars for energy conservation and the development of offshore wind power in cooperation with the University of Maine research;

$67.5 million dollars for competitive research and development grants in the energy and renewable energy field, and economic development and redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station.

And investing over $43 million dollars in the Land for Maine’s Future program, working water fronts, clean water and environmental protection efforts.

Our economy depends on investing in our people, and giving them the tools to be successful.

The plan I’m proposing does that. And it does it in an affordable way.

When we invest in our highways and bridges, we do more than improve our transportation network. We put people to work.

Seventy-five million dollars in the package for roads and bridges in the first year is going to be matched by $90 million dollars in federal funding. This bond will create nearly 4,500 jobs over three years.

And when we invest in safe, clean drinking water and improving the water systems, we protect the public health and safety, but we also do a lot more by putting people to work.

The $19 and a half million dollars I was proposing to invest in protecting Maine’s water supply will attract $47 million dollars in matching funds. And that alone will create nearly 1,800 jobs.

When we invest in energy independence and reduce our demand for foreign oil, we put our people to work.

The plan will help our universities and community colleges get the resources to modernize those buildings, making them more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

And once the work is done, they’ll use less energy, and be able to direct more resources to our students in the classroom, away from costly fuel.

We’ll follow the same model for State buildings. I am proposing that we invest $8 million dollars to improve the energy efficiency of the East Campus of the State Government in Augusta and convert it from oil to alternative energy sources like natural gas.

Not only will that investment reduce the amount of oil consumed by the State by more than 400,000 gallons annually, it will also have the potential to expand the availability of natural gas in the Augusta area, giving homes and businesses an alternative to heating oil.

And while we invest directly in innovative technologies, the money will help our best and brightest turn their good ideas into industry and help drive our economy in the future.

When we invest in the development of technology we are going to need to take full advantage of the tremendous wind resources sitting off Maine’s cost.

My proposal establishes the Maine Marine Wind Energy Fund, dedicates $7.5 million dollars for the research and development and product innovation associated with developing ocean wind demonstration sites in Maine.

I have spoken to Democratic and Republican leaders in the Legislature, and I am confidant that there will be bipartisan support for a bond package that can be enacted quickly.

And they will be necessary so that we can put hard working people in our State back to work.

While I know that there is going to be competing interests as this package as it is being debated, I believe that Maine has already shown its political leaders can put aside those partisan differences and work together to put the best interest of our people first.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Investment Strategy

Cross Border Energy Opportunities

March 28, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Maine and New Brunswick have much in common.

We are neighbors with close cultural ties dating back generations.

We share a long border and a long history.

And we have an opportunity to advance together toward a stronger economic future and greater prosperity.

People on both sides of the border recognize that we must radically change the way we power our businesses, our industries and our homes.

Maine and New Brunswick – working together – have much to offer.

We have the chance to become the driving force in a new energy future, built upon cleaner, renewable sources of power.

Together, we can help to make our countries more energy secure and energy independent.

Earlier this week New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham and I made an exciting announcement regarding our energy futures both in his province and in our State.

We are taking the next step toward our shared objective of improved energy infrastructure to increase the long-term supply of secure, reliable and clean energy to our region.

We are taking this next step together – as partners – doing what is best for the people of this region on both sides of the border.

On Wednesday we began a process to explore the creation of a Northeast Energy Corridor that would connect Maine and New Brunswick, and that would accelerate development of renewable power and an improve the electrical grid in Maine.

An integral partner in this equation is Irving Oil Company. Irving Oil has had an important role in helping to advance this concept.

The company has been a catalyst on the Northeast Energy Corridor.

Irving Oil’s willingness to invest in the project has moved the Corridor closer to reality.

There is still much work to be done, and many important details to be considered.

But I envision the Northeast Energy Corridor as a connection between Maine and Saint John, New Brunswick that would connect our power projects to markets in Southern New England that are hungry for clean, renewable electricity.

The Corridor would provide an opportunity to co-locate multiple energy lines, cables, and other infrastructure to safely and reliably move energy.

I know this project could create tremendous potential for Maine.

• It holds the promise of connecting the electrical grid in Northern Maine to the rest of the State and to New Brunswick.

• It would provide the transmission capacity to spur the development of wind power in Maine and New Brunswick. Up to 800 MW of wind resources in Aroostook County alone can be connected to the grid through this corridor concept.

• And it offers the natural gas fired co-generation capacity necessary to support greater wind development.

The Northeast Energy Corridor would be the back-bone for a new commerce corridor of economic development and trade. The Corridor would help to attract significant direct investment to the region for job generation and business growth.

It is time to realize that Maine is not at the end of the pipeline; rather, we are in the middle of an energy hub.

The first phase of this project would attract about $2 billion dollars of investment and create thousands of jobs in Maine and New Brunswick.

The Corridor would also provide the opportunity to reduce community and environmental impacts by centralizing transmission projects and promoting partnerships among utilities, businesses and energy developers.

And, the Corridor could provide tens of millions of dollars each year in new revenue for the State.

Those resources could be used to meet our weatherization and energy efficiency goals, to invest in top quality energy research and other State priorities.

This builds on my announcement two weeks ago that Maine has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bangor Hydro/National Grid to explore the potential use of the right-of-way that exists along our interstates and roads for new, underground transmission lines.

Bangor Hydro’s Northeast Energy Link, which would run from Orrington to Boston, has the potential to inject $2 billion dollars into Maine’s economy and generate revenue for our State.

This is the beginning of an exploratory phase that will test a Northeast Energy Corridor concept with representatives from business, industry, labor and environmental organizations.

I am directing my Director of the Office of Energy Independence and Security, John Kerry, and the Public Advocate, Richard Davies, to lead this exploratory phase, in concert with New Brunswick’s efforts and in cooperation with the private partner that has already stepped forward, Irving Oil.

I am also directing them to review and consider utilizing the designation process for an “Energy Infrastructure Corridor” that was enacted in 2008 by the Maine Legislature.

Under the Act, the PUC may designate an energy infrastructure corridor if it:

• encourages co-location of energy infrastructure; • enhances the efficient utilization of existing energy infrastructure; • limits the environmental impact; or • improves electrical rates or economic development

I look forward to working with Premier Graham on this important opportunity for international collaboration.

I appreciate his leadership on this issue and his friendship.

Together, we can reach our shared goals of economic growth, energy independence and a better life for our people.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Cross Border Energy Opportunities

Transportation Funding

April 4, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Springtime is officially here…finally! Plants will soon start growing, the ground will soften, and road construction season will begin.

While construction on the roads and bridges may cause some delays for our motorists, please keep in mind that it also represents thousands of Mainers working on the very infrastructure that our businesses and residents and tourists rely on everyday to transport themselves and goods throughout the State.

The economy is suffering. That’s nothing that I need to tell you, you know it yourselves, and it’s not only here in Maine, but it’s also nationally and globally. However, despite those difficult financial times around the world, it is important to continue to invest in our people and our State to grow out of this recession.

A few days ago, the Maine Department of Transportation submitted to the Transportation Committee and to the Maine Legislature the Work Plan for the next two years. The hundreds of projects included in this program will provide yet another major injection of money into our economy and more long-term benefits for our state.

The Maine Department of Transportation’s upcoming 2-year Work Plan includes $809 million in capital projects and over $61 million in transit operating support.

The Highway and Bridge projects in the Work Plan alone can be expected to create or preserve more than 15,600 jobs.

Included in the plan are multimodal projects, including investments in passenger and freight rail, transit projects, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Rail and cargo development is an important part of the vision to expand our economic development opportunities.

These investments will transform the state, enabling better and more affordable options for businesses and families and individuals. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure a long-term, more effective use of our resources.

The new Work Plan will be funded by formula funds from the federal government, base funding from Maine’s Highway Fund, federal GARVEE-instrument funding, state TransCap Bridge and Highway Program funds, and a significant transportation bond that I have proposed.

That bond package builds on the investments from the Recovery Act. The bond package would fund $75 million for highways and bridges, and another $53 million for rail, ports, transit and trails.

The importance of investing in our critical infrastructure cannot be understated.

I have traveled to every part of this State and I have talked to many businesspeople.

Time and time again, when I ask them about the challenges they face, one of the first two answers I hear is Transportation Costs; the other is the high cost of energy. And in our State, they are both one in the same.

Just two weeks ago, Verso Paper came to the State House to deliver a report on the most pressing challenges facing the paper industry in Maine.

They told me that the survival of this industry in Maine is - in part - dependent on addressing the high cost and inefficiency of our present transportation infrastructure.

We need to make investments to improve the movement of goods and people.

This is about Maine’s economy now and into the future.

It’s about our ability to compete globally – obtaining access to international markets and sending our goods out to all reaches of the globe.

It’s about retaining our businesses and jobs, and attracting new ones.

As a state, we have passed a 4-year bridge program, targeted highway reconstruction programs, we’re moving to extend the Downeaster from Portland, connections to Boston, to Brunswick, and further to Midcoast and the Rockland Branch.

We’ve laid the groundwork for future economic growth and prosperity, and at the same time invested in quality-of-life in our state.

But we also need to have a strong federal partner.

And with the passage of the Recovery Act, and the pivotal leadership from our own congressional delegation, we are beginning to help address the most pressing transportation needs and get people back to work immediately.

The $143 million dollars of Recovery Act funds for highway and bridges, combined with other funding components of DOT’s current Work Plan will preserve or create 11,000 jobs this spring, summer and fall.

And what Maine needs most now is jobs and economic development, and this investment package will help bring those jobs to those who need them the most.

We all know more needs to be done.

But the Recovery Funds are beginning to put people to work now. The Maine DOT’s Work Plan will go through the legislative process, and I want to point out and appreciate the support of Maine Better Transportation Association, the Maine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and others who have expressed the support for this bond package.

I know that our State and nation are facing difficult times. But we must work hard to make tough decisions and balance our budget – tightening our belts – but also planning for the future and making sound investments so that our people and our businesses can grow and prosper.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Transportation Funding

Recovery Act Update

April 11, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Just a little more than two months ago, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery Act.

During a conference call Tuesday with Vice President Biden, he joked that the first 70 days have felt more like 70 years.

So much has happened in Maine – and the United States in a short time.

The goal of the Recovery Act was to quickly put federal resources to work creating jobs.

In Maine, we’re beginning to see real results already.

Pike Industries has started work on a critical project to rebuild Interstate 295 between Topsham and Brunswick.

The $31.4 million dollars project was funded by the Recovery Act and it’s going to create more than 800 jobs this spring, summer and fall.

And it will help to secure one of Maine’s most important commercial corridors.

As someone who travels around the state often, I can’t remember a time when I have been more excited to see “Construction Ahead” signs.

Every orange barrel means there are hardworking Mainers doing important work just right up the road.

On Friday, we visited Brunswick to announce that Maine had earned approval for $20 million dollars from the Recovery Act to improve the drinking water systems around the State.

The Recovery funds for drinking water, taken with other resources, will allow us to complete more than $40 million dollars worth of projects in 61 communities.

This money will create more jobs, improve public health and safety and it’s going to be able to promote economic development.

The funds for drinking water will touch nearly every part of the State, from Princeton in Washington County to Lewiston and Auburn, from Madawaska to Berwick.

Much of the money is going to go in to Maine’s drinking water infrastructure, which is more than 100 years old. It needs work. The support will make a real difference for many communities.

The improvements will allow these systems to serve more customers, allow for growth and greater economic development. We don’t always think about it, but if you want to build new businesses or homes, you have to be able to provide them with clean, safe drinking water.

And very importantly, these projects will put Mainers to work almost immediately.

From the very beginning, President Obama has emphasized that every penny spent on this Recovery Act will receive unprecedented scrutiny.

In Maine, I signed an executive order putting in place stringent oversight of how our State’s share of federal dollars will be spent.

We have developed a cooperative process with the Maine Legislature and developed an interactive Web site that allows everyone with a computer easy access to the latest information on the Recovery Act.

Since going live, the Recovery Web site has had more than 65,000 visitors, averaging roughly 2,200 hits a day.

Mainers understand the magnitude of the problems we face as part of this national recession, and they understand the unique opportunity the Recovery Act has given us to make things better.

New information is added to the site as it becomes available. For example, you can read the entire contract that Pike Industries signed for Interstate 295 project.

Plus we’re adding new features to the Web site to make it easier to use and more effective for tracking the funding coming into the State.

Maine is working diligently to put Recovery dollars to work as fast as possible, after all jobs are at stake.

But we are not cutting corners on transparency or accountability.

And on Thursday, I held a conference in Augusta that brought together the people who are responsible for dealing with the Recovery Act.

Since the Recovery Act was passed in late February I have had the opportunity to discuss its implementation with the President and Vice President.

The Administration has been very clear that the governors carry a large burden in ensuring that the Recovery Act funds are used wisely, immediately, and in a transparent fashion.

I welcome the responsibility.

We’re off to a good start, but our success requires that we maintain our focus.

As Maine works to address these problems caused by the national recession, we don’t forget our responsibilities to keep you informed about what’s going on.

We have many difficult days ahead, but we also have opportunities.

And if we are precise and hold ourselves to the highest level of accountability with the support provided by the federal government, we can put thousands of Mainers to work and build a stronger state for the future.

Thank you and have a good day.

Related Documents

Recovery Act Update

Mid-April Budget Update

April 18, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

It doesn’t seem possible, but April is already half over.

For most Mainers, that means vacation week, Patriots Day and that the Red Sox have started playing again.

Finally, we’re starting to see warmer and sunnier days.

But it also means that we are running short on time for the Legislature to finish its work on the State budget and other important priorities.

This year Maine faces an unprecedented global recession.

Our State and country are struggling under the weight of tremendous pressure.

Unemployment is above 8 percent and will likely rise. More and more people are looking for answers, looking for direction.

It’s now time to act.

Back in January, I presented a two year budget that proposed reducing State spending by $200 million during 2010 and 2011.

That’s the first time in at least 27 years that a biennial budget has been less than its predecessor budget.

My goal was to streamline government administration at all levels – local, county and State. Make the necessary cuts and reducing spending while still protecting our core priorities of education, economic development and our safety net.

The budget was difficult, but prudent.

Since it was introduced, I have worked steadily with the Legislature to make changes and improvements.

Now we need to finish the work so we can tackle an even tougher task looming ahead.

We know that Maine revenues, like the rest of the country, are not keeping pace with projections made last year when we began working on the budget.

The economy has continued to fall faster and farther than our State’s leading economists had predicted, and we have to make adjustments.

We are required under the constitution and law to have a balanced budget.

So at this point, we can’t be certain how bad things will be. But on May 1, the State’s Revenue Forecasting Committee will likely deliver the bad news.

Revenues will decline significantly, and we will be forced into a new round of very hard budget decisions.

There is no escaping the hard realities of the current economic climate.

Every part of State government – from our dedicated workers to the important programs and services they provide – will be called upon to make reductions.

Government will get smaller; and we will be forced to do many things differently.

But here’s what we won’t do.

We won’t raise taxes to balance the budget.

We won’t kick people off health insurance, although we might need to change their coverage

And we won’t end our commitment to the investments that will make our State stronger down the road.

Right now, there are ideas pending in the Legislature that would save the State money and improve the delivery of services.

I have proposed another idea of eliminating three State agencies and reducing the size of my cabinet by three commissioners. I want to combine the Departments of Agriculture, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Conservation and Marine Resources into a single Natural Resources Department.

That change alone would save more than $1 million dollars a year, reduce the size of government and lead to improved delivery of services.

There’s plenty of opposition to the idea from entrenched interests, but if we want to improve Maine’s economic condition, we have to be willing to make changes like this one and many more.

We have got to continue to reduce the administrations in schools, higher education, natural resources and corrections.

During my State of the State address, I quoted from the inaugural address of Governor Louis Brann, who was elected during the Great Depression.

He likened the economic conditions at the time to a person preparing for a long journey:

He said: “We must pack only the essentials. We (will) have to ‘travel light.’”

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that is our situation today. We can only afford to pack the essentials for the trip we will take during the next two years.

We must leave behind those things that we don’t absolutely need, and make the hard choices that will deliver us through the difficult days ahead.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I have no doubt that Maine can overcome this economic storm.

We have the tenacity and capacity to adapt, to make due with what we have and to lay the foundation for new growth and recovery.

The choices we will make in the coming days will set the course for our State. We cannot delay the work that must be completed.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

Mid-April Budget Update

Revenue Reality   

April 25, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

As our State works its way through the worst recession since the Great Depression, it’s important that we all remain focused on our shared objectives: To protect and grow our economy, and protect our most vulnerable citizens.

Next week, we will get a clearer picture of the damage today’s global recession has done to Maine’s economy.

Economists from the State’s revenue Forecasting Committee will meet and make predictions about the revenues the State can expect in the coming years.

The news will not be good.

As more individuals have lost their jobs and businesses are struggling to stay afloat, the effect will run throughout the entire State.

Government is not immune.

We know that State revenue collections are falling. At this point, we can’t say for sure by how much. But it is safe to say the reductions will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

In January, I submitted a budget for the first time in at least 30 years that is smaller than its predecessor.

I proposed a plan that cut State spending by $200 million dollars.

Declining revenues now will force us to cut more.

I don’t want to sugarcoat the hard truth of our circumstances.

Maine will be forced to make more hard choices.

We must balance our budget. Our Constitution and law requires it.

But we will also make decisions that will invest and grow Maine’s economy into the future.

We are all going to have to roll up our sleeves and work together in order to get this job done.

And the pressure is going to be on for the Legislature to take decisive action and to take it quickly.

On July 1st, we must have a new budget passed into law. It’s the start of the State’s new fiscal year and in order for that to happen, we need the approval of at least two-thirds of the Legislature for it to take effect.

I can assure you that everyone will be able to find something in the budget that they don’t like or that they oppose.

But the people of this State are struggling and are depending upon all of us for the leadership to help make it through these tough times, and we must deliver.

So in early May, I will present changes for the current budget that will bring it into balance with those revenue predictions.

We have to be very careful about this work. Much is at stake.

I will not be proposing raising taxes. I think that would be a mistake during a time when our economy is already fragile.

Instead, we are going to need to make more cuts to State spending, we are going to need to further restructure and consolidate administration at all levels and all areas.

The budget picture is difficult, and is going to require choices that all of us would prefer to avoid.

But we are not in a hopeless situation, and we will overcome the obstacles in front of us.

The federal Recovery Act has given us a great opportunity to create or protect thousands of jobs.

My administration, working with the Legislature, is putting those resources to work creating jobs. Already, we’re seeing evidence: Road construction is already beginning. It’s estimated this spring, summer and fall 11,000 jobs in the transportation sector alone. Sewer and Water District projects have already been awarded to communities and they are going out to bid. Much needs to be done, but much has been done.

Mainers know that we cannot use our current recession as an excuse to avoid important investments in our people and in our economy.

As the Legislature considers the budget, it also is working on an investment strategy that will pay dividends today and in the future.

I have proposed a three-year, $306 million dollar investment package that will create jobs, give Maine workers the tools they need for success and support the work of innovative thinkers who will drive our economy in the future - transportation projects, road and bridge and rail, and research & development, and a new renewable energy future.

There’s a legitimate question about the amount of debt our State should undertake, particularly during a recession.

But during the hard times, government has the unique ability to make investments, and spark the private sector that will create the jobs that’s necessary for long-term growth.

Our private contractors, construction workers, engineers and architects need our support.

Our students and universities and community colleges need the resources to adapt to a changing nature of our world economy.

Maine is also presented today with a unique opportunity.

We stand at the gate of an energy revolution that can deliver less expensive power from cleaner, renewable domestic resources.

There are proposals for transmission projects that will make our State more energy secure and reliable, and more energy independent. And they have the potential this summer to put thousands of Mainers to work.

We have the opportunities with wind, water and wood, and the prospects for tremendous economic growth.

I recognize that there are concerns about specific proposals, but we cannot afford to delay. We must be smart, we must be efficient, but we must be aggressive, or risk letting this golden opportunity slip away.

The right choices today will protect our economy and lead us toward prosperity tomorrow.

Thank you.

Related Documents

Revenue Reality

H1N1 Flu / Budget Changes

May 2, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that cases of H1N1 flu, or the swine flu, have appeared in Maine.

Last week, when information on the possible spread of a new flu became known, the Maine CDC began an aggressive response plan.

We immediately increased our ability to identify and track the illness, and began preparing action.

Dr. Dora Mills, the head of Maine CDC, created a flu response team that immediately began working on the issue.

But preparation for a potential flu outbreak began years ago.

The plans that have been in place have been activated, and they are working.

The people who have the flu are at home and are recovering. They are not hospitalized.

As time elapses, it’s probable that Maine will see more cases of this type of flu.

I know that people are worried.

They’re concerned about their families, their children and their neighbors.

But it’s important to remember that everyone can make a real difference in helping to slow the spread of this flu.

It’s critical that people follow a few basic steps: washing your hands frequently; covering your mouth and nose when you cough; and staying home if you are sick. Do your best to avoid contact with others.

And stay informed.

Visit www.mainepublichealth.org for more information, or call 1-888-257-0990. That’s 1-888-257-0990. Resources are also available through 2-1-1.

Maine is thousands of miles away from where this flu strain originated, but nobody is immune.

Like other states, we have had to close an elementary school and a day care in York County. And if the circumstances warrant it, we are prepared to do the same in other areas.

And there is no vaccine for this strain of the flu.

Anti-viral drugs can slow the spread of the disease and ease symptoms. We have a supply of those drugs available in our State, and we will receive additional doses from the national stockpile by Sunday.

The anti-viral drugs are available by prescription only, through your doctor. If you don’t have health insurance or a health care provider, please visit www.mainepublichealth.org for a list of available medical providers.

We know that this strain of the flu has the potential to spread quickly, can be dangerous, and very unpredictable.

But, rest assured, we are prepared.

Just as we were dealing with the difficult news from the swine flu, we have also had to deal with the reality of a global economic crisis that has impacted Maine and the entire country.

On Friday, along with members of my Administration, I released my plan to close a $569 million dollar budget gap for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as fiscal years 2010-2011. The gap was created by declining revenues as a result of worsening economic conditions here and around the world.

This budget gap will further reduce the budget I presented earlier this year, which was reduced by $200 million dollars. That was the first time in at least 35 years that a proposed budget was smaller than its predecessor.

Difficult decisions had to be made. Difficult decisions remain.

Reductions will affect all areas of State government. For example:

-- New State employees are going to see increased health insurance cost sharing; -- Planned merit increases are being eliminated for the next two years; and -- There will be 12 unpaid government shutdown days per year in 2010 and 2011; and -- We will see the creation of an independent Commission to Recommend Streamlining of State Programs and Services.

The plan also reduces funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Circuit Breaker Program, K-12 and higher education, Municipal Revenue Sharing and other programs and services.

We will all be asked to share in this sacrifice.

I believe this plan is reasonable, responsible and fair, and we will continue to protect and grow our economy while protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

While this week has brought us bad news and difficult situations, we will get through it by working together, helping each other, offering support to our friends and neighbors, and looking out for each other.

While nothing could prevent the H1N1 flu and the global economic recession, we have been prepared for both and we are going to continue to work for the best interest and safety of our fellow Mainers.

Thank you.

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H1N1 Flu / Budget Changes

The Work Continues

May 9, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Wednesday, Maine became the fifth State in the country to recognize same-sex marriage.

The bill, An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom, came to my desk with strong support in the Maine House, the Maine Senate and among Maine people. With my signature, the bill became a law.

Since this legislation was first introduced, I followed the debate closely.

I have listened to law makers as they have debated the issue.

I have read many notes and letters sent to my office, and I have weighed my decision carefully.

I also appreciate the tone brought to this debate.

This is a very emotional issue that touches deeply many of our most important ideals and traditions.

There are good, earnest and honest people on both sides of the question.

So I did not come to this decision lightly or in haste.

In the past, I have opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions.

I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to a civil marriage.

Article I in the Maine Constitution states that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person’s civil rights or be discriminated against.”

My responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and do, as best as possible, what is right. That is the oath that I have taken as Governor.

The new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs.

It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of Church and State.

It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under our civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government.

I know that this may not be the final word on the issue.

The ultimate political power in the State belongs to the people.

As momentous as a week as it has been, we can’t forget that the Legislature still has important work to be done.

A week ago, I presented a plan to close a $569 million budget gap created by this global recession.

This is an additional $300 - $400 million cut that was on top of a budget earlier this year I presented which was $200 million less than its predecessor.

The plan includes many tough choices, but I believe it is fair and reasonable. It asks almost everyone to do their part without asking any group to carry too much of the burden.

The plan protects our economy and our most vulnerable citizens while making strategic investments for the future.

There’s a lot of pressure and a lot of difficult decisions to make, but we must move quickly.

Without action, many families and businesses in Maine will suffer unnecessarily.

This week will surely be remembered for the stand Maine has taken to breakdown inequality. But we can’t rest. Work continues. More must be done.

And also, Sunday is a very special day. To all the Maine mothers out there, have a very Happy Mother’s Day.

Thank you very much.

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The Work Continues

Time to Come Together

May 16, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

When we face difficult times – as a State, a community or even a family – it’s important that we are able to put aside the things that divide us and focus instead on the things that can bring us together.

The Maine Legislature is nearing the end of a process that began last summer when I started working on the next two-year State budget.

Since those days, a lot has changed.

Maine has seen the impact of a national recession coming home.

We’ve had our spirits lifted by the opportunities created by the President’s Recovery Act.

And we’ve had to deal with the harsh realities of declining revenues, job losses and economic uncertainty.

Through it all, I have remained focused on preparing Maine’s economy for the recovery that I know will come and protecting the people in our State who need help the most now.

From the beginning, I have talked about the new demands placed on our State by the global recession.

And we are all being called upon to do our part.

No department, no agency and no service provided will go untouched. There will be real cuts in government programs and hardships and sacrifices for people who depend on them.

Our situation demands that.

In the budget I submitted, it’s the first time in almost 30 years that a biennial budget has been less than its predecessor. The budget I introduced was $6.1 billion, two years previous had been $6.3 billion, a real cut of $200 million.

The plan I proposed asked much of many, but it did not burden any one single group.

The Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee has been working diligently in response to my proposals.

They have made some changes and some improvements.

And in a spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship, they have worked together to approve a majority of the budget.

There also have been real differences expressed between Democrats and Republicans, and that’s to be expected.

When economic conditions drive us to reduce State spending by about $500 million, to reduce services, to make significant changes, you have got to expect that there is going to be differences of opinion.

At the end of the day, however, every member of the Legislature – Democrat, Republican or Independent – has an obligation and a responsibility to pass a State budget.

Our budget process requires two-thirds of the Legislature to approve our budget. It’s required by Constitution and by law. And time is running short.

There are thousands of people – businesses, doctors - who depend upon us to move quickly, to pass a budget and to pay our bills.

The longer we wait for action, the more uncertainty there will be.

Everyone who wants to look will be able to find a reason not to support the budget.

At the end of the process, I know that we are going to have a reasonable budget that will find the best possible balance during some very difficult times.

If we make the right choices, we’ll be in a better position to weather the current economic storm and begin down the path of recovery.

But the right choices aren’t always easy choices.

I am encouraging the Legislature to move quickly to pass a budget so that Maine can meet its obligations and be better positioned for economic recovery.

It won’t be easy. But it is necessary.

Thank you.

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Time To Come Together

Next Step

May 23, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

The feeling of springtime is quickly turning to summertime in Maine. The days are getting warmer and brighter and the feelings of optimism and hope are inevitable - and welcome – especially this time of the year. We must also remember that our State and nation continue to face difficult economic times.

Some experts are saying that there are signs of recovery from the recession our country has been struggling with, although the effects of that recession are still being felt by people here in Maine and nationwide.

Nobody has been immune. Auto manufacturers and dealers, paper mills, retail stores and many others have experienced cutbacks, slowdowns and closures as a result of this recession. And while the country may be starting to bounce back, it has still been slow and American people are still feeling the harsh effects.

The downturn in the economy has also affected State government. When people spend less money, that has a direct impact on the amount of revenues your government collects. As a result, we have been forced to find ways to cut spending during a time when the citizens of Maine need government services the most.

But, as difficult as times have been, I have committed to not raising broad-based taxes to balance this budget.

Instead, I have said from the start that sacrifices must be shared across all agencies, all departments and all levels of government.

I have remained focused on protecting our most vulnerable citizens and making sure that their safety net has remained in tact.

But this means there are a lot of difficult choices that have to be made.

It also means we have an opportunity to prepare our economy and infrastructure to come out of this recession well-prepared for the days ahead.

For the first time in more than 30 years, the original biennial budget that I proposed was less than its predecessor by about $200 million dollars.

Then, earlier this month when the State’s revenue picture became clearer, I had to propose making additional cuts to that budget.

When all was said and done, we took a $6.3 billion biennial budget for the current fiscal years, and trimmed it to a $5.8 billion budget for the next two fiscal years. That represents over $500 million less spending in the next two years.

The Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee has been working diligently in response to my proposals. Earlier this week, they voted a unanimous, bipartisan budget out of the committee.

I would like to commend them for their work, doing so cooperatively to make difficult choices and put the people of Maine first.

Senate Chair of the Committee William Diamond, the Republican Senate Lead Sen. Richard Rosen, the House Democratic Chair Rep. Emily Cain, and the Republican Lead Rep. Sawin Millett.

I would also like to thank Legislative leadership in both the House and Senate who worked tirelessly along with the committee to help strike the right balance.

Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, Senate Minority Leader Kevin Raye, House Speaker Hannah Pingree and Republican Floor Leader Josh Tardy.

And this week, the budget will go before the full bodies of the House and Senate.

Democrats and Republicans have had real differences of opinion on the budget, but in the end it has come down to the responsibilities that you – the citizens - have placed on your elected officials. One of those responsibilities is to pass a balanced State budget. The constitution and law require it.

In order for this budget to pass, two-thirds of the Legislature must approve it. I encourage the members of the House and Senate to continue the precedent that has been set by members of the Appropriations Committee and Legislative Leadership, and work in a bipartisan fashion to do what is best for this State.

The cuts are real, and they are difficult. Many of us have not experienced such difficult times in our lives. But this budget strikes the right balance to help position Maine for economic recovery and protect our most vulnerable citizens.

It makes significant changes in the way government operates and delivers services and it continues the pressure to make sure that we are efficient with taxpayers’ dollars in the future.

This is also Memorial Day Weekend. We always remember and never forget. So as you start the summer tourist season, remember the sacrifices that have been made for all of us.

Have a great and safe weekend. Thank you.

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Next Step

Maine Values

May 30, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, the Legislature overcame a daunting but necessary task and overwhelmingly passed a responsible State budget.

We can be proud of our State and its people. Our Legislature and all of those who worked so hard this session to grapple with the most serious economic crisis in 70 years. We did what had to be done.

We passed the balanced budget as required by the constitution and law, we avoided increasing broad-based income or sales taxes, and we protected those most in need.

We faced significant challenges, as have all other States, but we have been able to maintain that leadership position because of the tone, civility, and the willingness of both parties to avoid gridlock and stalemate and work together and come up with a fair and responsible budget.

The budget, which was passed with 33 of 35 votes in the State Senate and 119 votes out of 151 in the House, it calls upon all Mainers to make sacrifices.

But it also protects our most vulnerable citizens, it makes structural changes in State government and positions our State for economic recovery.

The budget walks the fine, harsh line of necessity. It calls upon all to give and it calls upon all to do their part.

The size of the vote margin might suggest the budget was easy.

It was not.

The budget reduced spending from the previous biennial budget by $500 million dollars.

State workers are asked to sacrifice pay and benefits.

It asks counties and towns to stretch resources more, and make due with a smaller State subsidy.

It reduces MaineCare, and other important services that thousands of people rely upon.

And it says government won’t be able to provide the same level of services that many people have come to expect. We have to shut down non-emergency services for 10 days a year.

There are difficult choices in this budget.

But this budget also meets Maine’s obligations and invests in our future.

Government will continue to function and to provide important services.

We will meet our obligations to Maine hospitals which employ thousands of workers from Fort Kent to Kittery.

We will keep police on our highways, our wardens in the woods and on the water.

And make sure that the people who need our help the most will have a place to turn.

I understand the difficulty of the budget and the debate that it brought on. I know that every one of us could find something in the budget that we dislike.

But I think this budget represents the values and priorities of our State and demonstrates why our home is different from so many other places.

People of all political stripes came together and built a consensus.

They put aside differences. They compromised. They put the people of Maine and the greater good above their own interests and desires.

That leadership, that drive for consensus and a common-sense solution demonstrates the Maine values of hard work and practicality.

It is not the problems we face that set us apart. It is the way we choose to deal with them.

There’s an old saying that success has many fathers and mothers, and failure is an orphan.

The accomplishments of this budget would not have been possible without the leadership of many people.

In the Senate, President Libby Mitchell, Sen. Kevin Raye, Sen. Phil Bartlett, Sen. John Courtney and Sen. Lisa Marache.

In the House, Speaker Hannah Pingree, Rep. Josh Tardy, John Piotti, Rep. Phil Curtis and Seth Berry.

All deserve enormous credit for trusting one another and committing to work in a bipartisan fashion.

As Sen. Courtney said, there were certainly some grumpy moments, but Legislative leaders never stopped talking and never stopped working.

It was the hard work and professionalism of the entire Appropriations Committee and staff – but especially the chairs and leads Sen. Bill Diamond, Sen. Richard Rosen, Rep. Emily Cain and Rep. Sawin Millett. That work built upon the budget I presented in January.

Now, there is much work to do, and we must keep a cautious eye on the State and national economy.

We cannot predict with certainty what will happen in the weeks and months and years ahead.

But if we can continue to approach the challenges the same way that we have approached this challenge, no matter how big the challenge, how significant the gap.

Working in this fashion has created the tone and the civility and the respect for each other so that we will be able to do it for a better Maine today and a better future tomorrow.

Thank you and have a great day.

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Maine Values

Investments for Tomorrow

June 6, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

As the first week in June comes to a close, it is a reminder that the Legislative session will also soon come to a close.

While much has been accomplished by the 124th Legislature, there is still work left to be done.

Together, we have worked through difficult financial times by passing a 2-year State budget that is $500 million dollars less than the previous one.

We have made some hard choices and some painstaking cuts to decrease State spending in the budget for the first time in at least 30 years.

But while times are difficult and money is tight, we must keep an eye toward the future. In order to grow and succeed, we must invest.

We must invest in areas that will create jobs and strengthen our economy.

We must invest in things that draw people here and make Maine special.

We must invest in our most valuable natural resource – our people.

Investing in our transportation infrastructure is necessary and essential to the State.

Transportation is Maine’s lifeline and we should continue to treat it as such.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists use our roads, passenger rails and airports to visit the Pine Tree State four seasons out of the year, every year.

Maine businesses use our ports and rails to ship and receive goods every day.

And you – the citizens of Maine - use bridges and roads for everything from driving your kids to school, to taking a family vacation, to allowing for goods you buy at the grocery store to be delivered to your town.

Our transportation infrastructure is a critical component of our economy now and our economy in the future. We must make investments to keep it strong.

Maine’s economy has the potential to get a significant boost from renewable sources of energy. And now is the time to make those investments.

Maine’s coast is picturesque and pristine, but it is also ripe for offshore wind possibilities.

Additionally, we have already begun to tap into the great potential of our State for wind energy on our land - we have some of the largest wind farms in New England - as well as focusing on energy from wood and solar.

If we allow ourselves to stand idly by while other states and regions make large-scale investments in clean energy, we will lose our opportunity to capitalize on our tremendous natural resources.

We must also continue to put money into the Land for Maine’s Future program, working water fronts, and clean water and environmental protection.

Our natural resources help make Maine special, and we need to care for them and invest in them appropriately.

We must also invest in what I have frequently called our most precious natural resource – our people.

We need to make sure that our young people have the resources they need to succeed at every level and that means making the critical investments in higher education necessary to transform our workforce and give our people the skills and opportunity they need to prosper.

Technology has evolved quickly, so investments in building improvements and energy upgrades are critical to allow the latest technology to be found at our State’s universities, community colleges and Maine Maritime Academy.

Through those institutes of higher education, we have been able to conduct top-of-the-line research, resulting in development of innovations and ideas that receive national recognition and attention.

Investments in research and development continue to pay dividends through economic development and education for the people of our State. When we support the innovators and the entrepreneurs in our State, we support business and job development for our citizens, our communities and our families.

Since taking office in 2003, I have put a priority on job creation and putting our State on firm financial footing.

Those efforts, hard at times, have worked.

We are working through now one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression, and we are working in a bipartisan way. We have been able to adapt to this financial crisis, cutting our budget by $500 million. We have also been able to maintain our strong, stable credit ratings for our State bonds.

So, by doing this Maine can set the example and continue to lead.

I urge the Legislature to continue that effort to pass an aggressive bond package that will help lay the ground work for Maine’s future economic growth and expansion.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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Investments for Tomorrow

Energy and Tax Reform

June 13, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Friday, I signed two historic pieces of legislation that boldly sets Maine on a new path.

Both pieces of legislation - addressing tax reform and relief and energy - were a long time in the making.

From the beginning, I have said that I support the goal of tax reform and a lowering of the top income tax rate.

And I am proud that we have accomplished those goals.

The legislation I signed on Friday will lower the income tax, make the tax code more progressive and stable, and help to grow our economy.

I have been working closely with Democratic Leaders in the House and Senate and the leaders of the Taxation Committee on this negotiated compromise.

The compromise makes changes in the tax reform package, which was enacted by the Legislature on June 5.

It maintains the income tax reduction from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent for incomes up to $250,000. Incomes over $250,000, which is only 2 percent of filers in Maine, would be taxed at 6.85 percent - still a steep decline from 8.5 percent as it is today.

The tax reform plan remains revenue neutral.

These changes maintain the core principals that the Taxation Committee and members of the Legislature worked hard to adopt.

Maine’s tax code will be more stable, more of the tax burden will be exported and the top tax rate will be significantly reduced.

I want to thank Senate President Libby Mitchell, Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree, members of the Legislative leadership, particularly Majority Leader John Piotti, State Sen. Joe Perry and Rep. Thomas Watson, who worked for more than two years to develop the basis for tax reform.

As a result, we are close today to significantly improving our tax system.

I also signed legislation that is leading Maine toward a more energy independent future.

A century of decisions -- by homeowners, businesses and utilities – have left us too dependent on fossil fuels.

We have homes and businesses that are not energy efficient.

We are overly reliant on foreign sources of oil for heat and energy.

Too much of our hard-earned money flows out of the State for energy, instead of strengthening our economy here at home.

And every winter we worry about Maine people getting cold in their homes.

This law changes the picture in a dramatic and historic fashion.

It establishes the Efficiency Maine Trust and Board, bringing together under one roof Maine’s energy rebate, efficiency and conservation programs.

Presently, they are too fragmented and they sometimes leave people on hold too long.

Now we have an opportunity with this legislation to make the needed energy upgrades as easy as possible.

People will be able to find one place that individuals, families and businesses can go to get help with all of their energy efficiency needs.

This approach will build upon the strengths of our current programs, but it will also energize new partnerships to accomplish our goals.

This legislation sets aggressive goals that will lead to a brighter future.

We will weatherize 100 percent of our 3residences and 50 percent of our businesses by 2030;

We will be able to build private sector jobs in clean energy businesses, providing a much needed boast to our economy and putting our people to work in good jobs with good benefits.

We will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of our environment and the health of our people.

This bill also establishes a fund to build and rehabilitate affordable housing, making them more energy efficient and affordable.

And remember, it’s about location, location, location.

This bill takes great care to set up a reasonable process for managing the opportunity Maine has to take advantage of our location to develop new renewable energy resources.

This bill is sweeping in its scope.

It’s an important new law receiving overwhelmingly bipartisan support in the Legislature. Many people worked to turn this good idea into a law that will benefit our entire State.

There’s a long list of people who deserve credit - many members of the Legislature, stakeholders from the environmental, business and energy sectors.

They have all performed a great service for Maine.

Maine will see great dividends from this work. We’ll send fewer energy dollars out of State, we’ll reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and we’ll create thousands of jobs for Maine workers.

We are well on our way to a more secure energy future for Maine.

I sincerely appreciate the good-faith efforts by members of the legislature on both pieces of legislation. These are important accomplishments for Maine that will leave a positive impact for years and generations to come.

Thank you and have a very nice weekend.

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Energy and Tax Reform

Legislative Wrap-Up

June 20, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Despite a global recession and long list of highly charged issues, the 124th Legislature finished last week with an impressive list of accomplishments.

Instead of falling at the feet of the challenges before them, the 124th Legislature rose up and tackled them head-on. They put aside divisiveness, partisanship and ideology and came together to be a part of one of the most productive legislative sessions in recent memory.

The year started with the daunting task of passing a State budget with a reduction in spending of $500 million dollars. It’s the first time in at least 30 years that a State budget has been less than its predecessor.

Leaders of both parties and members of the Appropriations Committee showed great discipline by making the tough choices to lead Maine forward.

They also demonstrated that Maine was able to restrain spending and to make real reductions, even as the demand for services continues to grow.

Many other states have been raising taxes to deal with their own budgetary problems, Maine bucked the trend and made a significant reduction to income tax rates.

Let me repeat that – in these tough financial times, and around the world, the State of Maine LOWERED income taxes.

The 124th Legislature passed a tax reform package that will help to grow our economy and provide more stability for Maine citizens.

The income tax rate is being lowered from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent for incomes up to $250,000. For those folks fortunate to earn more than $250,000 the rate was cut from 8.5 percent to 6.85 percent.

In return, the sales tax is being broadened and made more exportable, so people visiting the State will pay their share to support things that make Maine special.

We also added an Earned Income Tax Credit to make it refundable for lower and middle income families earning $33,000 or less, which translates into more money into your pockets to cover the expenses of everyday life.

It’s always difficult to change the tax code, even when the changes make the system more fair and actually reduce the burden on Maine families.

There are those groups that become invested in the status quo or who fear change.

With the changes we’ve made, Maine can become more attractive for businesses and people who want to be able to keep more of their own money. Those are good things. Rewarding work. Rewarding investment.

And while we have reduced spending and passed tax reform, members of the 124th Legislature also realized the importance of continuing to invest in our State.

A responsible investment plan was passed on the final day of the session that will fund important improvements to our roads and bridges, promote innovation and critical support for higher education.

The $150 million dollar investment package will now be sent out to the voters, who will have a chance to vote on the funds to create jobs and to help Maine prepare for economic recovery.

The Legislature approved funding to develop offshore wind energy demonstration sites, a major component of Maine’s energy strategy.

Our State has enormous potential for renewable forms of energy. And the Legislature passed historic energy legislation that will contribute to our energy future.

The law sets aggressive goals to end our dependency on foreign oil and brings together Maine’s energy rebate, efficiency and conservation programs under one roof.

And it sets up a reasonable process for managing opportunities to take advantage of our location to develop new renewable energy resources.

We cannot miss out on our opportunity to take advantage of our natural resources. Establishing the infrastructure now will create a more stable energy future for our children.

And thanks to health care legislation passed this session, our children will have a better chance of growing up healthy.

Access to quality, cost and prevention were all addressed in bills that were passed by the Legislature. Taken together, they are helping to advance the broad goals of the original Dirigo Health Reform to make Maine the healthiest State in the nation.

The 124th Legislature has been through a lot in six months. But the members have proven that even in the most of difficult times, working together can benefit the people of Maine.

I want to congratulate them for their work, their leadership, and stepping up to the plate to do the right thing for Maine’s future.

And thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Legislative Wrap-Up

Maine is Open for Business

June 27, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Our State made significant progress during this year’s Legislative session.

Every state is dealing in its own way with the global recession that has struck our nation and the world. We are experiencing the worst economic downturn this generation has seen.

People are being forced to take pay-cuts, or worse, lose their jobs altogether. People are nervous and hesitant to spend money. That has a direct impact on our economy and the financial health of our State.

States are seeing staggering revenue shortfalls from coast to coast. And while there are glimmers of hope that we are starting to pull out of the recession, revenue shortfalls for State governments continue to increase.

In some cases, States have raised taxes on their citizens to fill their budget gap. Others have had to cut entire programs or services simply to make ends meet.

I am proud to say that Maine has bucked the national trend.

Yes, times are difficult here, and we have taken a different path toward weathering the economic storm. We prepared for difficult times and we have worked together in a bipartisan fashion to not only deal with the revenue shortfall, but to continue to invest in our people and our State.

And people are starting to take notice.

The Wall Street Journal featured an editorial this week, called the “Maine Miracle,” stating that Maine has improved its economic attractiveness more than any other State in the country.

Here’s why:

  • We have lowered the income tax rate from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent. And for those earning more than $250,000 – the income tax rate is lowered to 6.85 percent.

To do this, we are expanding our sales tax on certain services that have not been taxed in the past. That will help us to export more of the taxes onto people who are tourists, or visit the State, or part-time residents, while providing tax relief to Maine residents.

And those Maine residents are also going to have an opportunity for a refundable earned income tax credit – those earning $33,000 or less – to help in some of these expanded areas.

  • Maine also demonstrated fiscal discipline. Working together in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, we were able to reduce State spending by $500 million dollars. It’s the first time in at least 30 years that a biennial budget has been smaller than its predecessor.

And how are we doing this?

Well, we’re restructuring. We’re cutting spending. And also at the same time making sure that people know we’re open for business, and most importantly good paying jobs with benefits.

Legislation I signed this week expands the Pine Tree Zone program statewide. Pine Tree Zones create important tax incentives for businesses to locate in Maine or expand here as long as they’re bringing good paying jobs with benefits.

The Pine Tree Zone program was originally established to level the playing field throughout Maine and making sure that we had an opportunity to fairly compete with other states and other countries for jobs.

The Pine Tree Zone program is a proven success.

The program was established in 2003 and in five short years, there are at least 213 certified businesses that are Pine Tree Zones. They have reported their plans to create more than 6,500 jobs and invest almost $700 million dollars in Maine. Those jobs alone are expected to generate $203 million dollars in payroll.

And the expansion of this program is already showing results in creating jobs and attracting business.

Since the expansion legislation passed a couple of weeks ago, we have celebrated news that TD BankNorth is expanding its presence and its work force in Auburn.

And in Augusta, we are preparing to welcome Bolduc Technology. The technology company solidified their plans to expand and relocate to Augusta earlier this month, bringing 18 new high technology jobs with them to start.

Both businesses credited Maine’s Pine Tree Zone program as a critical component of the decision to choose Maine. But it’s not just Pine Tree Zones – it’s our quality of life, but most importantly it’s our people.

Our people can compete with anyone, anywhere.

We need to invest in our people as well as investing in research and development, infrastructure improvements in our roads and bridges, and higher education.

We need to continue pushing forward; continue working hard; and continue looking toward the future.

We have made the difficult choices to balance our State budget by asking for shared sacrifice.

We have boldly shown that Maine is open for business by expanding Pine Tree Zones statewide and lowering the State’s income tax rate.

And we are continuing to invest in our State and our people.

And we are Mainers – and we don’t let tough times get us down.

We’re not out of the economic woods, and as my friends in Aroostook County have often told me, “It’s a long way into the woods, it will be a long way out.” So we face many tough choices and challenges ahead.

But by working together we have made significant progress toward a successful future and a brighter tomorrow.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Maine is Open for Business

Independence Day Weekend

July 4, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

This weekend we celebrate the 223rd anniversary of the birth of our country. It was on Fourth of July, 1776, that we claimed our independence from Britain.

While the United States remains a grand experiment – a nation building upon a dream and the efforts, ingenuity and sacrifice of generation upon generation of Americans – the words written in the Declaration of Independence mean just as much today as they did more than 200 years ago.

The thoughts that were put on paper by men such as Adams, Jefferson and Madison were more than just words – the document was a contract based on ideals and freedoms that we, as Americans, pledge to uphold.

The Declaration states that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

In all the world, the U.S. form of government, and its enduring success are unique. The power of that government comes from the people - remains with the people, during war and peace, good times and bad.

And that is what has allowed the United States to grow and to prosper and to remain a guiding light in a world marked by uncertainty and upheaval.

America remains a land of opportunity, where people from around the world come to find their own version of the American Dream.

I am continually humbled when I meet the brave men and women who have fought – and continue to fight – to protect the rights given to us 233 years ago.

Americans have fought for freedom not only here, but around the world. Brave soldiers have sacrificed much for freedom – leaving their families and all that is familiar behind to defend our ideals, promote freedom and protect our country.

Some of those soldiers have paid the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in the line of duty.

It is because of the men and women of the military who volunteer their service that we fulfill the dream that arose in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

We should celebrate them today as we celebrate the birth of our nation.

Our country has faced many challenges – in times of war; economic struggles; and natural disasters. But in every circumstance and every situation, Mainers and Americans, with their backs up against the wall have pulled together and come out even stronger.

We work together and unite for the greater good.

And in good times and in bad, the United States remains that land of opportunity.

So if you do work hard and play by the rules and give it your all, you can succeed.

It can be easy to lose sight of how lucky we are to live in such a great country. But we should take time this weekend to think about the democracy this country was founded upon and the sacrifices people have made so that we can maintain our freedoms and liberties.

I also recognize that the Fourth of July represents the start of a summertime celebration for many – and for many it’s been a long time in coming. So for this a long weekend, for most, please celebrate responsibly and have a very safe holiday and a very happy Independence Day weekend.

Thank you for listening.

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Independence Day Weekend

Most State Agencies Closed Today, July 6

July 6, 2009

AUGUSTA – Most State agencies and offices are closed today. The State government shutdown day is a cost saving initiative enacted in the Fiscal Year 2010-2011 Biennial State Budget.

“While the biennial budget requires shared sacrifice, every effort has been made to minimize the impact of the State government closure on Maine people, businesses and communities,” said Governor Baldacci.

Last week the Governor signed a directive to place a State government-wide hiring freeze on vacant positions and limit overtime, travel and other expenses. The order allows for emergency exceptions.

Governor Baldacci will be in his office at times today and will be in touch with State agencies exempted from the closure due to the nature of the work they do. For example, law enforcement and corrections officers are working today.

Mainers seeking government services today are encouraged to call ahead before traveling to a State office.

Governor Orders Flag Flown at Half-Staff in Palmyra on July 7

July 6, 2009

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today ordered that flags be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, July 7, in the town of Palmyra for Private Dustin Robert Fredrick Small, an active duty solider killed in a car accident in Maine on June 30.

Private Small, 19, served with the 43rd Special Troops Battalion in Fort Carson, Colo. Both of Private Small’s parents live in Palmyra.

A viewing is Monday, July 6. The funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, July 7.

“Our prayers are with the family as they deal with a terrible loss,” Governor Baldacci said. “The State of Maine is grateful for all of the brave men and women who serve our country in the military.”

More Tough Choices

July 11, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this week the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee met to continue its work on the State’s two-year budget.

Just a few short weeks ago, Maine enacted a budget that addressed falling State revenues caused by the global recession. Working in an overwhelmingly bipartisan way, we passed a budget for the first time in 30 years that reduced State spending by $500 million dollars.

But our work continues.

The budget plan we passed included homework for the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. Those members and the Executive are charged with finding additional structural savings worth $30 million dollars to make sure that State government is right-sized for our times.

This task will be difficult.

Unfortunately, the economic morass engulfing our country has continued to erode State revenue.

It is a near certainty that the Appropriations Committee will be required to find additional savings well beyond $30 million dollars we had anticipated.

From the earliest days of the recession, I have approached the State budget from a perspective of shared sacrifice – we are all in it together.

This budget touches every person in Maine, and each one of us has been called upon to do our part, to make tough decisions and to constrain spending to match the resources.

I do not believe that we can raise taxes to bring our budget into balance.

So as we move forward, what you will see is people working together to make the best of some very difficult times.

I have also asked my Council on Competitiveness and the Economy to help develop ideas that the administration will put forward as part of the process with the Appropriations Committee.

The Council was created in November 2007 and has since worked with McKinsey and Company – a management consulting firm that advises leading companies on issues of strategy, organization, technology, and operations.

I will look to the Council, which is made up of some of Maine’s leading businesspeople, to provide me with the insights and advice on how to best make long-term, structural changes in the State spending.

For Maine to find the best path through this economic downturn, we will need to draw on the collective wisdom and expertise of all of our people.

The Appropriations Committee and the Legislature worked together in a bipartisan fashion during the last session to move forward with many difficult decisions.

Where other States have been mired in gridlock and turmoil, Maine has found a way to work together and move forward.

So at the same time, we are going to continue to make investments in things that will prepare Maine for the future.

This State requires a good economic policy in order to prosper once we pull out of this global financial crisis.

That’s why it is important to expand aggressive Pine Tree Economic Development Zones Statewide – a decision that has already resulted in the expansion of TD BankNorth’s operation in Lewiston and Auburn and a new high-tech business moving into Augusta.

That’s why we need to make critical investments in our roads and bridges, our higher education systems and features that make Maine special – our natural resources and quality of place.

And that’s why we reformed our tax code and lowered our income tax rates, a move that the Wall Street Journal hailed by saying, “No state has improved its economic attractiveness more than Maine has this year.”

And that’s why it is important for us to continue to invest in energy independence. Maine has an opportunity not only to help this country kick its addiction to foreign oil, but to create jobs for our citizens in the process.

Maine is in a unique position to capitalize on natural, renewable sources of energy. The Legislature agrees, that’s why in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion they made the investments necessary in renewable energy now.

So we need to see that same sort of cooperation going forward.

Yes, we are going to have our differences, but we must find common ground that will allow our people the opportunity to succeed.

Given the chance, Maine people can compete with anyone, anywhere and they have proven it time and time again. It’s our job to make sure those opportunities exist.

And while the economic indicators are mixed, at best, we have seen some positive signs.

Businesses are expanding;

Construction workers are on the job thanks to the Recovery Act;

Domtar in Washington County restarted its pulp making operation last month with a focus on the future of the facility;

And traffic on the Maine Turnpike over the 4th of July weekend was up 6 percent over last year, even in bad weather.

Despite the steady rain we have seen recently, the clouds will inevitably clear and sunshine will return again.

In the meantime, it is up to all of us to work together and reset the foundation of Maine for the future that lies ahead.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

More Tough Choices

Energy Future

July 18, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

After what seems like endless weeks of rain, summertime appears to have finally arrived in Maine.

The sun is shining, temperatures are rising and people are swimming and canoeing in rivers and lakes throughout our State.

But just as we know the weather will eventually turn warm every summer, we also know that colder temperatures are inevitable and will return before we know it.

We also know that the price of oil is just as unstable today as it was last year.

Now, right now things appear to be better with oil selling for $2.25 a gallon statewide and a barrel of oil is hovering for around $60 dollars.

Last year at this time, oil was selling for $145 dollars a barrel.

While oil prices are considerably lower than they were last year, it does not mean that there is stability in the prices.

This type of uncertainty puts an unnecessary and undefined burden on the backs of Mainers – and frankly we are fed up with that.

Last month I signed legislation that outlined very aggressive goals to reduce our State’s dependency on foreign fuels.

One of the major components of that legislation was the establishment of the Efficiency Maine Trust and Board. The idea is to finally bring together our energy rebate, efficiency and conservation programs under one roof to better serve the people of Maine.

This will create a “one-stop shop” for Maine consumers looking for help with all of their energy efficiency needs.

Earlier this week, I nominated seven people with strong understandings of our goals and objectives to serve on this Board.

The Board will not only be tasked with coordinating these programs, but they will also oversee the distribution of money for energy efficiency and alternative energy projects.

Among the goals put forth in the energy legislation I signed last month was to weatherize all residences and 50 percent of our businesses by the year 2030.

Mainers can save an average of 5-10 percent on heating bills through weatherization projects. Older homes were not built with proper weatherization in mind. Improperly insulated areas, foundation holes, attic holes and gaps in windows and doors are common in older homes – and in some newer homes. So as a result, energy – and money – is lost without these efforts.

There are low-cost, do-it-yourself energy saving tips available on the State’s Web site – maine.gov.

In addition to focusing on weatherization for winter, the State of Maine is also working on a long-term vision of providing an alternative to foreign oil.

Maine is in a unique position in that we are a potential hub for renewable forms of energy with our water, wind, wood and solar. Our natural resources are ripe for energy production and harnessing that energy can build private sector jobs and boost our economy.

Maine is New England’s leader in developing its vast land-based wind resource. This State already has 300 megawatts currently operating or under construction and another 450 megawatts in various stages of development.

Danforth, Maine, in Washington County, is home to the largest wind farm in New England.

But there is even more wind potential off the coast of Maine – an estimated 100 gigawatts, which is about 40 nuclear power plants. That is enough to power all of New England with some to spare.

So we need to harness this energy and we need to do it now.

This is an opportunity that is presenting itself – we cannot sit idly by and watch others take advantage of it. We are risking too much if we continue along our current path of oil use.

Maine families use 90 percent of their energy budget to heat their homes and operate motor vehicles. Our State alone exports billions of dollars every year to pay for heat and motor fuel. So we have an opportunity to keep more of that money here in Maine using existing renewable resources and most importantly, putting Maine people to work in the process.

We live in Maine for many reasons. We have the best people, wonderful natural resources, and most of us love every one of those four seasons – some stay a little bit longer than others.

But summertime is here and with it warm temperatures.

But as Mainers, we always have an eye toward the future. And while we can enjoy the summer and all that comes with it, we need to keep our eye toward the winter. And not just this winter, but winters down the road.

It is clear that Maine people are fed up with paying outrageous oil prices. We have a chance to change that – both for ourselves, our homes, but together as a State and for the entire region.

Change is never easy but it is time for us to act. And acting together, a seemingly insurmountable challenge can quickly become a realistic achievement.

In the meantime, enjoy the summer in Maine while it’s here

Thank you for listening – and I hope you have a great weekend.

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Energy Future

Business Investments

July 25, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

While the national economy continues to be held within the grips of a global financial crisis, there are some early indications that we may be settling out.

Don’t get me wrong, our country is a long way from economic stability and getting out of this recession, but there are signs that we are starting to pull out.

Here in Maine, we have experienced budget gaps as a result of the recession that far exceeded anyone’s expectations from a year ago.

Simply put – people are not spending as much money, the State is not collecting as much in revenue, so our spending must be reduced to balance the budget.

I emphasize that spending must be reduced to balance the budget because I have pledged from the beginning that we will get through this by sharing the sacrifice – and that raising taxes to balance the budget is not an option.

We have made those reductions in spending – this biennial budget is $500 million dollars less than its predecessor - the first time this State has had a budget smaller than the previous one in the last 30 years.

While revenue forecasts indicate that we will need to continue to make reductions in spending for the immediate future, we have also made it a priority to make investments that will position Maine as a leader once the recession is over.

Despite all of the global financial hardships, Maine has continued to invest in transportation infrastructure – roads and bridges, ports and rail – to meet the needs of our economic development engine – tourism – and manufacturing, and for our citizens alike.

We continue to invest in natural resources and things that make Maine special. And we will continue to invest in our most precious natural resource, our people.

By making investments in the business climate in Maine – we are investing in opportunities for our people to succeed.

We were able to send a strong message this year that Maine IS open for business – the Business Equipment Tax has been repealed, Maine income taxes have dropped from 8.5 percent – 6.5 percent, and we have expanded the Pine Tree Economic Development Benefit program statewide.

It is one of the most aggressive economic development strategies in the country.

It forgives taxes for manufacturing businesses that either relocate or expand here in our State.

International Woodfuels, a leading wood pellet manufacturer, is building a 30,000 square foot facility to employ at least 35-50 people in Burnham, Maine.

International Woodfuels is also making a $20 million dollar investment in this project – one that is somewhat unique in nature.

They will be co-locating in Burnham with Pride Manufacturing, making both operations more efficient, more profitable through combined resources.

International Woodfuels searched throughout Northern New England to find a location – but this company saw the value of Maine people and the abundance of our natural resources; and realized that savings that could be seen through co-locating with Pride Manufacturing, and it understood the benefits of the Pine Tree Zone program.

In five years, the Pine Tree Zone program has certified 213 businesses which have reported plans to create more than 6,500 jobs, investing nearly $700 million dollars in Maine.

The jobs alone are expected to generate $203 million dollars in payroll annually.

A few weeks ago I told the story of two businesses investing in Maine just days following the statewide expansion of the program.

TD BankNorth announced plans to expand its presence and its work force in Auburn.

And in Augusta, we are preparing to welcome Bolduc Technology. The technology company solidified their plans to expand and relocate in Augusta last month, bringing 18 new high technology jobs with them to start.

And we also celebrated Hannaford’s investment in Augusta earlier this week – opening the most environmentally-advanced supermarket in the country.

Hannaford’s new LEED-certified supermarket officially opens this weekend at the site of the old Cony High School in Augusta. The company is not just making investments in a new building for its customers, but they are investing in ways to save energy, save money and to help save our environment. This is the type of investment that will pay off for generations.

Our State is in a good position. We are still facing some tough times. But we are looking forward and planning for the day when the global economy is once again stable, and the country’s work force is once again bolstered.

While it may not seem possible to see a silver lining around this financial dark cloud, it does exist. Now is the time to use our Yankee Ingenuity, our frugality, improving efficiency and restructuring the way that we do business so it makes more sense, and to help our people continue to grow and prosper.

And by working together and staying focused on our goals and opportunities down the road, our State will be getting through this recession stronger than before.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Business Investments

Nature-based Tourism

August 1, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

It is hard to believe, but the first weekend of August is already here.

It seems like Memorial Day weekend and Independence Day were just yesterday. But as is the case every summer, the month of July seems to go by too fast.

And while we haven’t had much of a summer to speak of in terms of weather, we have been able to enjoy a few days of warm sunshine over the past couple of weeks, and there still is plenty of summer to go.

I talk frequently about Maine’s quality of life and abundant natural resources that bring folks from all over the world here.

And Maine has a number of nature-based tourism opportunities for people visiting our State as well as for Maine residents.

And there is a strong interest in Maine’s watchable wildlife, hiking, paddling adventures, and in our heritage and culture.

In 2005, a company specializing in Nature-based tourism development – was contracted to develop an extensive inventory of Maine’s natural resource assets.

Just some of the recommendations from that inventory were to:

 Have the State establish a Nature-based Tourism Initiative for rural economic development;  Provide a framework to support and complement local and regional efforts;  Demonstrate how nature-based tourism development can be planned and implemented across the State; and  Furnish visitors with information to fully experience Maine’s unique resources.

As a result of those recommendations, we established the Maine Nature-based Tourism Task Force. It provided a framework for this type of tourism development.

The report recommended that pilot regions for Nature-based Tourism be established in the areas of Piscataquis and Penobscot Counties; Down East in Washington and Hancock Counties; and Western Mountain Regions.

Once a variety of standards have been met, sites in these regions are identified with Maine’s Chickadee logo to signify a nature-based location.

Signs have already been placed to make it easier for visitors to find 20 of the best sites in Piscataquis County, including Gulf Hagas, Borestone Mountain Sanctuary, Sebois Bureau of Parks and Lands, and Mount Kineo.

In fact, you can find a full list of these sites online at www.themainehighlands.com.

This year, the Bureau of Parks and Lands has developed new maps of attractions in Washington County. You can find these maps through the Department of Conservation’s Web site at www.maine.gov/doc.

Additionally, Maine’s location and diverse landscape makes it one of the top year-round bird watching destinations.

The Maine Birding Trail was introduced this spring and quickly attracted a great deal of attention. The Maine Birding Trail is already the Office of Tourism’s most requested brochure, highlighting 82 of the top birding locations in Maine, with directions included.

In addition to the work done by the State, there are several private efforts that enhance our nature-based tourism.

 The Appalachian Mountain Club’s North Woods Initiative offers “Sporting Camp” – to – “Sporting Camp” hiking, skiing and mountain biking;  The Maine Huts and Trails has opened a second hut on its network of trails and will eventually cover 180 miles, with lodges providing comfortable beds and meals for hikers and mountain bikers alike.  The Northern Forest Canoe Trail stretches 740 miles from Old Forge, New York, to Fort Kent, Maine. The sections can be explored by day paddles, weekend excursions or longer camping trips.  And earlier this year we announced the creation of the Maine Woods Discovery Packages. Some of Maine’s top outdoor industry leaders collaborated for this effort, guiding visitors through a variety of outdoor adventures including fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, backpacking and gemstone digging.

And Maine is gaining a good amount of national attention for our nature-based tourism:

 The National Geographic Adventurer and Backpacker Magazine recently featured stories about hiking along Maine’s Bold Coast trail in Washington County.  And this month’s “Martha Stewart Living Magazine” lists Martha’s favorite 10 hikes in Acadia National Park as well as 10 other good hikes around our State.

And nature-based tourism is healthy, it’s fun and it’s local. We have the Disney World of natural resources right in our own backyard – and in many cases, you can find a great adventure suitable for a day’s drive or a weekend getaway.

So I encourage you to take time this summer to experience Maine’s outdoors before the summer’s end - and to fully appreciate the special features of the State that we call are all lucky enough to call home.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Nature-based Tourism

Governor Announces Nominations to Courts

August 3, 2009

AUGUSTA - Governor John E. Baldacci today announced the nomination of seven people to the Maine courts.

Justice Joseph Jabar is being nominated to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, replacing Justice Robert Clifford. Justice Clifford is being nominated as Active Retired Associate Justice to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Justice Samuel Collins Jr. is being renominated as Active Retired Associate Justice to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Judge Ronald Daigle and Judge James MacMichael are being nominated as Active Retired District Court Judges.

Governor Baldacci is also nominating Beth Dobson and Daniel Driscoll to the District Court.

“These nominees bring a great depth of experience and judicial temperament to the bench,” said Governor Baldacci. “I am confident that those I have named will serve the State with utmost diligence, contributing their talent and wisdom to Maine’s citizens and courts.”

Justice Joseph Jabar, of Waterville, has served on the Superior Court since 2001. Prior to his service on the bench, Justice Jabar served in private practice for 22 years at Jabar, Batten, Ringer & Murphy Law Firm. He served in the Maine State Legislature from 1996 to 1999. He is a graduate of Colby College and the University of Maine School of Law.

Justice Clifford, of Lewiston, has served Maine for 30 years on the bench. He was an associate and partner at the Law Offices of Clifford & Clifford from 1964-1979. He sat on the Lewiston City Council from 1968 to 1970 and was a two-term Mayor of the City of Lewiston (1971-1972). Justice Clifford served in the Maine State Senate for two terms (1973-1976). He received a B.A. from Bowdoin College and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.

Justice Samuel Collins Jr., of Rockland, was appointed in 1988 to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. He retired and was first appointed to active retired status to the Court in 1994. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Justice Collins served 10 years as a State Senator, two years of which as Senator Majority Leader. He practiced law for 40 years. Justice Collins is a Caribou native, and graduated from the University of Maine and Harvard School of Law.

Judge Ronald Daigle, of Fort Kent, has served on the District Court since 1984. Prior to his appointment on the bench, Judge Daigle ran his own law practice for 14 years. Judge Daigle is a graduate of Boston College and University of Maine School of Law.

Judge James MacMichael, of Skowhegan, has has served on the District Court since 1996. He served 30 years as a trial lawyer prior to being appointed to the Court. Judge MacMichael earned degrees from Bowdoin College and Boston University School of Law.

Beth Dobson, of Portland, has been employed for 30 years by the firm Verrill Dana, where she is currently a partner. Dobson concentrates in administrative law and regulatory compliance in the areas of health care and banking. She is a graduate of the University of Maine and the University of Maine Law School.

Daniel Driscoll, of Kennebunk, currently serves as Family Law Magistrate with the Portland District Court. A former Assistant Attorney General, Driscoll also has civil litigation experience at firms in Maine and Massachusetts. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Maine and J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law.

Judicial nominees must be reviewed by the Judiciary Committee and confirmed by the full Senate. A Senate confirmation session is scheduled for Aug. 24.

Governor Discusses Health Care Reform with U.S. Senators

August 6, 2009

Governor Discusses Health Care Reform with U.S. Senators

AUGUSTA and WASHINGTON, D.C. – As a member of the select “Gang of Six,” a group of senior members of the Senate Finance Committee that have been meeting daily to find common ground on health care reform, U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) today participated in a conference call with governors from 12 states, including Governor John Baldacci, to discuss changes to the Medicaid program. In response, Senator Snowe and Governor Baldacci released the following joint statement:

“Today, we held a frank and productive discussion about comprehensive health care reform, as governors from 12 states participated in a conference call with the Gang of Six. The fact is Maine has been an early leader in recognizing the critical value of health insurance coverage. Both groups are steadfastly committed to bringing more people into the health care system. We also recognize the critical role states can play in helping to realign our health care system to focus on improvements such as better care coordination, which results in higher quality and lower cost. As the Finance Committee health reform package continues to take shape, it is essential that we remain in open dialogue.”

Maine Records First Death of Resident Related to H1N1

August 11, 2009

AUGUSTA – A York County man in his 50s is the first death linked to H1N1 influenza in Maine, the Maine CDC in the Department of Health and Human Services learned today.

“It is with great sadness that we have learned today of a York County resident who died recently of underlying conditions complicated by H1N1 after a nearly three-week hospitalization,” announced Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC. “We extend our deepest sympathy to this man’s family and friends. While most people with H1N1 in Maine and the nation have had a relatively mild infection, this news demonstrates how serious influenza can be, especially in those with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women and very young children.”

The man died last week. His name and the date of his death are not being released to protect the privacy of the family.

Since first being recognized in April 2009, novel influenza A (H1N1) has spread to 168 countries. In June, a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization. As of Aug. 7, H1N1 infection has resulted in 6,506 hospitalizations and 436 deaths in the United States. Maine has identified 323 cases of H1N1, which include 19 individuals requiring hospitalization. Of Maine residents with H1N1, 60 percent have been under 25 years of age.

All Mainers are urged to take everyday actions to prevent H1N1 and to stay healthy, including: • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way. • Stay home if you get sick. • Stay informed. Check Maine CDC’s H1N1 Web site at: www.mainepublichealth.gov. Governor Baldacci has convened an H1N1 Summit on Aug. 20 at the Augusta Civic Center for health care providers, emergency management agencies, school officials, public health agencies and community organizations to come together to learn and prepare for the fall, when H1N1 may escalate and when a vaccine is anticipated to be offered.

“We know that any type of influenza can cause serious illness, so it is important that we all redouble our prevention efforts to limit the spread of this illness and to prepare for this fall,’’ said Dr. Mills.

For more information, Maine CDC H1N1 Web site:
http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/swine-flu-2009.shtml

Focus on the Economy

August 8, 2009

Governor John E. Baldacci Radio Address Focus on the Economy Saturday, August 8, 2009

This is Governor John Baldacci.

We are beginning to see some signs nationally that the recession that has mired our country for too long is beginning to ebb.

But the hard truth is that we still have a long way to go before recovery is certain.

Last week, the Federal Reserve released a report that shows the U.S. economy has begun to stabilize. That’s the good news.

The report also said the economy continued to be weak going into the summer, retail sales being sluggish and the labor market remaining soft.

The housing market is improving, although not out of the woods yet, we are seeing anecdotal evidence that things should start to get better later this year.

Unfortunately, our country and our State remain in the shadows of a global economic decline.

As the Associated Press reported this week, tax revenues for the federal government are on pace to drop by 15 to 18 percent this year. That’s the biggest decline since the Great Depression.

States are facing the same bitter trend. As the needs of our people are growing, we don’t have the resources to do all that we would like.

Just one month into the new fiscal year, at least 33 states are expecting deficits for the year.

Unemployment and continued contraction among even successful businesses continue to cut the revenues every state relies upon to provide critical government services.

Maine, like so many other states, faces the same pressures.

Since the Legislature passed the current two-year budget with great bipartisan cooperation and discipline, revenues have continued to decline.

Already, the Appropriations Committee in the Legislature is working with my administration on ways to further reduce State spending.

The trend, however, is clear and troubling. We must look deeper and make more difficult choices to balance our budget while maintaining the core services and safety net that Mainers demand.

While our situation is serious, I will not raise taxes to balance the budget.

Instead, we will take a disciplined and programmatic approach to further reducing state spending.

Already, the two-year state budget is $500 million less than its predecessor. Out of necessity, the budget will get smaller.

Working with the Governor’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy and the Appropriations Committee, my administration will develop recommendations on how to best close the emerging gap between revenues and projected spending.

Building on the work that we’ve already done, including the research of the Brookings Institution and McKinsey and Company, we will find additional cost savings through efficiency, implementation of best practices and restructuring.

We will maintain our critical safety net so hardworking people do not fall through the cracks during this economic downturn.

And we will make smart investments – in innovation, education and people – to strengthen and grow our economic future.

We will protect our natural resources.

And we will continue to make government more effective and efficient.

We have grown accustomed in Maine to making tough decisions and doing it without the partisan fighting that has plagued too many other states.

And as we continue this difficult work, it won’t be easy. But we need to maintain that same approach. But we must.

We must continue to change, to adapt and to improve. We can’t go back to old, inefficient ways.

If we are bold in our ideas and committed to putting the good of Maine ahead of individual political ambition or party politics, we can and will be successful.

The current recession will end.

And when recovery comes to Maine, Maine will be leaner, more efficient, more competitive and ready for a new period of growth and prosperity.

Thank you, and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Governor Mourns Death of Marine with Maine Ties

August 17, 2009

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today learned of the death of a Marine with Maine ties.

According to the Department of Defense, Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland died Aug. 14 while serving in the Helmand province of Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Bernard was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, according to the Defense Department.

“Lance Cpl. Bernard gave his life helping to protect a new democracy in Afghanistan. His bravery and sacrifice will be remembered,” Governor Baldacci said. “On behalf of a grateful State and nation, we send our deepest condolences to Lance Cpl. Bernard’s family and friends. They will remain in our hearts and prayers during this very difficult time.”

Governor Baldacci will order flags flown at half-staff on the day of Lance Cpl. Bernard’s funeral.

No further information is available at this time.

Health Care and the Economy

August 15, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

I know that the Number 1 issue on the mind of Mainers is the economy.

And it should be. It’s going to take everyone, working together for our country to pull itself out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Part of the path forward requires that we reform our health care system.

You can’t separate health care from the economy.

And costs for health care are out of control.

Between 1996 and 2006, the average health insurance premiums for families nearly doubled, to almost $12,000 a year. In some cases, people are working just to pay their health insurance premiums.

Even if premiums grow at a slower rate, we will see a greater portion of every family’s paycheck going to health insurance.

We’ve seen in Maine where our reforms have slowed the growth of health care costs, but they are still far too high.

So when employers see health care costs doubling, their workers are forced to carry more of the burden.

Even successful companies are being forced to sink more resources into health care or drop coverage altogether.

And they are competing against countries and companies that don’t even pay for health care.

It’s hurting our entire economy.

As the cost of providing health care grows, it’s placing a bigger and bigger burden upon the federal, state and local government.

Here in Maine, more than 35 percent of the State budget is spent on health care.

Health care costs are growing faster than our economy.

And for all this spending, we’re still seeing more than 45 million people in this country who lack health insurance.

So we’re spending too much and too many people are getting too little in return.

Maine has been a national leader in making sure our people have access to health care. Only four states have been more successful in reducing the number of uninsured.

We have set the standard for providing access and quality health care, and implemented many reforms now being pursued on the national level.

In Maine, we show that we can improve our health care system.

But no state budget – Maine’s included - can withstand the pressure of ever increasing costs.

President Obama has started a national conversation on health insurance reform.

This week, I traveled to Portsmouth, N.H., to meet with the President and to hear his thoughts on how we can improve health care insurance in the United States.

And on Thursday, I spoke with Sen. Snowe, other governors and members of the Senate Finance Committee in Washington on the difficult balance that must be struck when reforming health care insurance.

Right now, there’s a lot of fear and misinformation out there.

And there’s some silly talk, meant mostly to confuse people or scare them.

But ultimately, the question facing our nation today on health care insurance is this:

Are we satisfied with the status quo, or are we prepared to make some real changes that will control costs and insure that everyone has quality, affordable health care?

Without real and meaningful reform, we are all at risk of losing access to good health care.

The costs on individuals, families, businesses and government will swallow future growth.

So Maine has led the way in addressing health reform, but we know that workable solutions at the national level are needed more than ever.

We can’t do it without Washington’s help.

We can improve the quality and access to health care.

And we can do it in a way that contains costs.

And Maine has proven it.

Now we must take this important opportunity to make national progress.

I believe that we can work together to find the best path forward.

Nothing is more personal to people than their own health and the health of their family.

That’s why the President and I agree that no insurance company or drug company accountant should overrule the doctor-patient relationship.

Medical decisions and health care decisions for Mainers or Americans should be determined by doctors and nurses.

In Maine, we have taken on many of the issues, including expanding affordable health insurance options, promoting preventative health and enacting consumer protections.

Just last month, we launched a pilot program that will help people get the information they need to better manage their own health care.

We also created a scholarship program that will help to defray the tuition for medical school students who will be able to practice medicine in more of our rural areas of the State of Maine.

Maine’s experience shows that while health care reform is hard work, it’s vital that all of us come together to commit ourselves to finding common ground.

When we do, things will get better.

All of us politically – Democrat, Republican and Independent -- want hard-working families and businesses to prosper and thrive. Right now, our current system is holding back too many people. It’s burdening too many families.

There is a better way, and I am confident we can find it.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Health Care and the Economy

Maine, FERC Sign Agreement on Tidal Energy Projects

August 19, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Maine and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate procedures and schedules for review of tidal energy projects off the coast of Maine.

The MOU was signed by FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff during a meeting with Governor John E. Baldacci today in Washington, D.C.

The MOU is the first of its kind on the East Coast. FERC has signed two similar agreements with Oregon and Washington.

“Maine is committed to developing our abundant renewable energy resources,” Governor Baldacci said. “Our State has been aggressive in its pursuit of clean energy to help end our country’s dependence on fossil fuels, and this agreement will help establish a coordinated and responsible partnership between Maine and FERC.”

“Today’s agreement is an important step to pursuing hydrokinetic technologies on the East Coast,” FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said. “This commitment by Maine to develop renewable energy sources puts us well on our way to move these new technologies forward and bring benefits to consumers.”

The agreement between Maine and FERC says:

• Each will notify the other when one becomes aware of a potential applicant for a preliminary permit, pilot project license or license. This will allow for the start of coordinated efforts to review the project.

• They will agree upon a schedule for processing applications as early as possible. The schedule will include specific milestones for FERC and Maine to complete their respective processes. They also will encourage other federal agencies and stakeholders to comply with the schedules.

• Along with prospective applicants and other participants, they will work to identify potential issues and to determine what information is needed and what studies must be conducted so the Commission and Maine can undertake required reviews of proposed projects.

• FERC agrees to consider to what extent proposed tidal projects are consistent with Maine’s pertinent comprehensive plans.

• Maine agrees to take action on an application for water quality certification for a demonstration hydrokinetic tidal project within 60 days of the state’s acceptance of an application for processing.

Investments Matter

August 22, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to welcome the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to Maine.

The Secretary was invited by Congressman Mike Michaud to see firsthand the impressive achievements in technology of the University of Maine’s Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center.

The Director of the Center, Doctor Habib Dagher, and his accomplished group of scientists and students have led the way in expanding composite technology.

This research has great potential for Maine and far beyond.

Product development has already helped to spur growth in industries critical to our State.

They play an important part in making our successful boatbuilding industry.

Even during this recession, boatbuilding remains a core industry, and composites help Maine companies remain industry leaders.

And the Composite Center is partnering with private businesses in other industries.

These are businesses small and large, and their success is good for Maine’s economy, employing people with good pay and benefits, and they create job growth.

The people of Maine should be proud of the accomplishments of the Composite Center.

The voters of Maine have directly invested in the research and development undertaken at the Center by approving past Jobs Bonds.

In partnership with the private sector, the Composite Center boasts nearly 300 product development and testing projects in the past five years.

And the benefits of this technology don’t stop there.

There is great potential for expanded use of composites in the development of renewable energy.

The University of Maine is building an addition to the Composites laboratory to conduct wind energy R&D, so that Maine can be a world leader in both onshore and offshore wind energy technologies.

We can build the materials for these wind projects here in Maine.

The reason for the Secretary’s visit this week was to view one of the one most promising achievements of the Composites Center: the “Bridge in a Back Pack” program.

The composite bridge components use an innovative design that helps us meet the challenges of rebuilding the State’s vital infrastructure using materials that are stronger and will last longer.

The first bridge in the State to be built with this technology is the Neal Bridge in Pittsfield, Maine, which opened earlier this year.

Additional projects are planned here in Maine.

Secretary LaHood was impressed with the technology and the potential for its expanded use.

He was so impressed that he promised to bring this project to the attention of his fellow cabinet-level secretaries who are a part of the “Green Cabinet” that meets about once a month in Washington.

These are high level federal officials who are pursuing clean energy and transportation solutions for our future.

The Secretary said he intends to invite Habib to make a presentation to the group, a impressive honor.

We already know our economic future is tied to our efforts to expand green technology and jobs.

With the work at the University of Maine, we can see how the State’s investment strategy is helping to spur opportunities for Maine businesses and the economy, now and into the future.

Not only did Maine earn praise from the Transportation Secretary for our innovative approaches to meeting future transportation and energy challenges.

He also commended the State and our partners for successfully moving forward with projects funded by the federal Recovery Act.

The Secretary complimented the Maine Congressional Delegation for its support of the Recovery Act’s passage, which has been crucial to improving Maine’s infrastructure while preserving and creating jobs for Mainers.

He also recognized the efforts of the State in ensuring that the federal funds are spent the right way -- putting people to work and making a lasting, positive impact on our economy by improving our highways, roads and other modes of transportation.

In fact, Maine was the first state in the nation to obligate 100 percent of its federal Recovery Act highway funds.

More than a third of those funds have been spent, meaning that from one end of the State to the other, you’re seeing Recovery Act projects that are underway.

We know that our economy – both here and nationally – has a long way to go to achieve full recovery, but these federal funds are undeniably working and making a difference in Maine.

And while we must continue to find efficiencies in the way we provide services to our citizens, we must look at the example that is provided by the Composite Center and recognize that strategic investments must be made to lay a foundation of economic growth and opportunity for Maine’s future.

There is great potential for composites to assist Maine in growing good-paying jobs and transforming our industries and infrastructure.

Smart investments matter. Even during difficult times, we must make investment in innovation a priority.

Thank you for listening, and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Investments Matter

Governor Ceremonially Signs Health Care Legislation

August 24, 2009

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today ceremonially signed LD 1205, “An Act to Establish a Health Care Bill of Rights,” and LD 1444, “An Act to Protect Consumers and Small Business Owners from Rising Health Care Costs.”

“Maine remains a national leader on health care reform and consumer protections,” Governor Baldacci said. “This legislation will improve transparency in the health insurance marketplace and provide the public with more information about the quality and cost of health care services.”

LD 1205 gives the State’s insurance superintendent more authority to oversee rate increases and allow consumers to more easily compare health insurance plans. The new law will also require insurance companies to provide clear, understandable explanations of the benefits when a claim is filed so that consumers have a better understanding of what is covered under their policy.

LD 1444 requires the Advisory Council on Payment Reform and the Maine Health Data Organization to promote public transparency of the quality and cost of health care by publishing financial and quality information about health care services in a formal that is easily accessible for consumers.

The bill directs the Advisory Council to develop proposed reforms for payment reform in this State, including provider incentives for cost-effective and patient- centered health care, and deliver these recommendations to the Legislature by January 2010.

Governor Baldacci was joined at the ceremony by bill sponsors, Sen. Phil Bartlett and Rep. Sharon Treat. Also attending the ceremony were members of the Insurance and Financial Services Committee and supporters of the Legislation.

The laws go into effect on Sept. 12.

Governor Celebrates Opening of The Maine Studio

August 25, 2009

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today attended the ribbon cutting for The Maine Studio in Portland. The Maine Studio is a collaborative effort that will create a new film production studio in Maine and bring together film, theater, music and art professionals in a single location.

“The Maine Studio will put under one roof some of Maine’s most creative minds,” Governor Baldacci said. “The benefits from having a robust film industry are undeniable. This collaborative effort will create an atmosphere were talented people can work together, share ideas and promote Maine as an attractive option for film production.”

Legislation introduced this spring (LD 1449) would have created new incentives to attract film production to the State. The bill will be reconsidered during the Second Regular Session of the 124th Legislature.

“When it became clear that funding for the film incentive wasn’t available, members of the industry began working on alternative ways to fund the bill and build our State’s capacity,” Governor Baldacci said. “This type of collaborative, can-do approach is what sets Maine apart.”

The Maine Studio is located in a 43,000-square-foot warehouse at 235 Presumpscot St. in Portland. The first year of the lease is being donated by Frank Nappi Sr. and Frank Nappi Jr. of Nappi Distributors.

The facility will also include a part-time location for use by the Maine Film Office.

In addition, the facility will incorporate environmentally friendly policies, including methods for energy conservation, recycling and waste reduction, and through procurement.

Governor Mourns Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy

August 26, 2009

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci released the following statement today after learning of the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy.

“Sen. Kennedy was an inspirational leader and a good friend of mine and my family,” Governor Baldacci said. “He has been at the center of the most important public policy debates of my generation and through it all he fought for those without a voice of their own. He believed in fairness and opportunity, and while a ferocious fighter for what he thought was right, Sen. Kennedy always managed to reach across the aisle to find common ground.”

“I am deeply saddened by Sen. Kennedy’s death. He was a lion of a man, and will be missed by a nation grateful for his lifetime of service.”

Governor Orders Flags Flown at Half-Staff for Sen. Kennedy

August 26, 2009

AUGUSTA – In remembrance and honor of Sen. Edward Kennedy, Governor John E. Baldacci has directed that the United States flag and the State of Maine flag be flown at half-staff until sunset on Aug. 30, 2009. Governor Baldacci also directs that the flag be flown at half-staff on the day of Sen. Kennedy’s interment.

The order follows a proclamation issued by President Obama today ordering flags lowered to half-staff at all federal buildings for the same time period.

Governor Joins Young Mainers Weatherization Corps at Project in Bangor

August 28, 2009

BANGOR – Governor John E. Baldacci today joined members of the Young Mainers Weatherization Corps at a project to weatherize the home of Violet Smith in Bangor.

The Young Mainers Weatherization Corps was introduced earlier this year in the Governor’s State of the State Address. The program uses Recovery Act funds under the Workforce Investment Act to teach valuable work and life skills to young Mainers between 18-24.

About 60 young workers are participating in the Young Mainers Weatherization Corps around the State and helped to weatherize homes in their communities this summer.

“Today, we can celebrate the accomplishments of the Young Mainers Weatherization Corps. Through hard work and commitment, you have helped yourselves and others to have a brighter, more secure future,” Governor Baldacci said.

The Corps is part of a larger statewide program under the Workforce Investment Act Summer Youth Employment Program that has put about 714 young people to work.

The Young Mainers Weatherization Corps is a partnership between MaineHousing, the Maine Department of Labor, the four local Workforce Investment Boards, CAP agencies and LearningWorks.

Youth who graduate from the program have received weatherization training, OSHA safety training and workforce training.

“Last year as oil prices broke records and pushed our economy into recession, we made a vow that we would begin immediately to reduce our dependency on foreign oil,” Governor Baldacci said. “As you all have demonstrated, each one of us can make a difference for ourselves and the people around us. I am proud of you.”

Getting Ready

September 5, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, I signed a Proclamation of Civil Emergency that will help the State in our response to the H1N1 flu.

I’m certain that everyone has heard about H1N1 by now.

This new virus stunned the world during the spring when it first appeared in Mexico and quickly spread around the world, including the State of Maine.

Since it was identified in March, H1N1 has spread through 53 American states and territories and to more than 200 countries.

And there have been more than 2,000 confirmed deaths associated with the disease.

So far, there has been only one death in Maine where H1N1 was involved.

During the spring months, we found that the disease was highly contagious, but wasn’t as dangerous as we had feared.

But our experiences last spring and with summer camps tell us that we must be responsible and aggressive in our response to this unusual flu.

The key to slowing the spread of the disease is to keep it from taking hold in our schools.

The civil emergency declaration protects school districts and health care workers who participate in vaccination clinics from being sued.

As we discussed the importance of school-based vaccination clinics with superintendents and school boards, it became clear that the liability concerns would keep some districts from participating.

With this order, those concerns are answered, and Maine policy tracks with federal policy, which has already granted similar immunity.

It is critical that we make both seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines as widely available as possible.

And it is our goal that every person in Maine be vaccinated.

But we also recognize that not everyone is comfortable with vaccines or might prefer to receive them from their personal health care provider.

The school-based vaccination clinics are completely voluntary.

Parents must give their consent for children to receive the vaccines.

Neither the seasonal flu nor the H1N1 flu vaccines are mandatory.

But we know that the more people who are inoculated, the better chance we have of slowing the disease.

Mercifully, H1N1 has not been as deadly as was feared.

But public health experts warn that it could change rapidly as it begins to circulate again.

Maine will be cautious, responsible, prudent and prepared in its response to H1N1.

Our work began in earnest in March and April, and the Maine Center for Disease Control, Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and the Maine Emergency Management Agency are all well-prepared for the work ahead.

Maine has been proactive in its response to this new flu.

But as the school year begins, we must continue our vigilance.

As of this week, Maine has begun to receive doses of the seasonal flu vaccine, and public health workers will begin making it available.

The vaccine for H1N1 will likely be available in October.

It’s important for Mainers to get vaccinations for both to maximize effectiveness.

The flu has the obvious potential to make thousands of people ill.

But the impacts could be much more serious than a few days in bed with flu symptoms.

A fast-spreading flu has the potential to shutdown schools and businesses, close government offices and leave vulnerable individuals without the support and services they depend upon.

There could be broad economic disruption, and tragic consequences for some individuals.

So, I encourage all Mainers to receive the appropriate flu vaccinations.

And I would repeat the same safety message that you have heard from me since April:

• Cover your cough;

• Wash your hands often;

• And if you feel sick, stay at home from work or school.

I know that a lot of people are skeptical about the seriousness of the threat from H1N1.

And frankly, I hope that they are correct.

I hope that this year’s flu season turns out to be no more serious than a typical year.

And that the threat from H1N1 quickly evaporates.

But those are just hopes.

The science tells us we must take this threat seriously, and we must act to stem the spread of H1N1.

It’s a matter of public health and public safety.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

Governor Addresses Maine Medical Association Annual Meeting

September 11, 2009

BAR HARBOR – Governor John E. Baldacci today addressed the Maine Medical Association (MMA) 156th Annual Meeting at the Jackson Laboratory. He praised Gordon Smith, Executive Vice President, and the membership of the association for their active role in working with patients and the public to advance quality health care across Maine and the nation.

“Maine physicians serve on the frontlines of health care,” said the Governor. “I appreciate what we’ve accomplished together in Maine to improve access to quality health care, but more needs to be done, both here and nationally.”

The Governor recognized the Maine Medical Association and its national group, the American Medical Association, for constructively working with the State and Federal executive and legislative branches to advocate on behalf of medical professionals and their patients.

“Working together, we hold the promise of improving health care for all Mainers and all Americans. I applaud the work of President Obama, Maine’s Congressional Delegation, the Maine Legislature, Maine Medical Association and all our partners to ensure that health reform meets this goal,” Governor Baldacci said.

Governor Celebrates L.L. Bean’s Newest Store

September 12, 2009

FREEPORT – Governor John E. Baldacci today joined L.L. Bean officials, employees and the public for the ribbon cutting of the L.L. Bean Home Store. Incorporating representation from the nonprofit organizations Habitat for Humanity and Florence House in the grand opening, the celebration also served as a way for L.L. Bean to highlight housing needs across the State.

“Ask about L.L. Bean anywhere around the world two words are repeated: quality and customer service. That starts with every employee and goes right up to the top of the company,” said the Governor. “L.L. Bean is committed to Maine and understands the character of our State. The company is an example of what it means to be a good corporate citizen.”

The Governor said that the company’s support for Florence House in Portland shows its dedication to the State. Florence House is a new women’s center that provides comprehensive housing and other support services to chronically homeless women.

The Governor specifically recognized Leon Gorman, chairman of the company’s board of directors, Lisa Gorman, and Chris McCormick, the company’s president and CEO, for their commitment to community service and to Maine.

Governor Baldacci said that L.L. Bean’s expansion is significant to the State.

“The key ingredient to L.L. Bean’s worldwide success is found in the fact that the company has retained the principles on which it was founded,” said the Governor. “During these challenging economic times, it’s encouraging to see that the company is growing.”

Customers began lining up for the 9 a.m. Saturday grand opening of the store the night before.

Governor Joins in Celebration of 11th Annual Cancer Survivors Day

September 12, 2009

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci and First Lady Karen Baldacci joined cancer survivors, their family members and officials and staff of MaineGeneral’s Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care for the 11th Annual Cancer Survivors Day. The theme of this year’s event is “Inspiration for Life.”

The Governor reflected on the life and contributions of Harold Alfond and how his philanthropy continues to have a great impact on the lives of Maine citizens.

“Being here today, it’s impossible not to remember the wonderful man who is responsible for this facility. I know that this center was a project for which Harold Alfond was particularly proud, not because it bears his name, but because of the collaboration and commitment from the community that led to its successful completion,” said Governor Baldacci. “And Harold would be so proud to see the outpouring of support that is provided to patients at this facility.”

The Governor participated in the groundbreaking of the cancer center three and a half years ago.

“Since the opening of this center, thousands of Mainers have received state-of-the-art health services,” said the Governor. “They’ve received warmth and support from the wonderful health care professionals and staff. There are so many people here who provide inspiration to us all.”

Governor Baldacci heard the story of Patricia Royall, who as a patient at the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care developed the idea for a line of patient clothing. The product line - called Jazzy Johnnys – were modeled at today’s celebration.

“Patricia’s story may be unusual – creating a product based on her fight with cancer – but her spirit as a survivor and her eagerness to help others who are fighting cancer is an inspiration,” said the Governor.

Day of Service

September 12, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Eight years ago, terrorists changed the landscape of our country with terrible attacks on New York City, the Pentagon and aboard an airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania.

In New York, brave men and women – firefighters, police officers and other first responders – paid the highest price for their valor.

While most people ran away from the World Trade Center, they charged into harm’s way to save others.

And in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 mounted a desperate defense of themselves and their country.

Their bravery saved untold lives.

Even during the horror and confusion of that day, thousands upon thousands of men and women from every corner of the United States and every country in the world answered a call to service.

Blood banks were overwhelmed with people who wanted to donate. The lines stretched for blocks as good people did what they could do to help.

Old struggles and disagreements faded as the country came together – united and determined.

The world has changed greatly in the eight years since September 11.

But the day remains brightly etched in our memories.

This week we observed the anniversary of September 11 with a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Congress passed – and the President signed – the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

The law is a fitting tribute to a dedicated public servant – and a dear friend that he was.

The Act memorialized September 11 as a “National Day of Service and Remembrance.”

In Maine, we have also proclaimed September 11 as a Day of Service and Remembrance.

Together with many community volunteers, AmeriCorps members, National Civilian Community Corps members and many others, we worked on Friday to cleanup and restore a park in the Park Wood Transitional Housing area of Bangor.

The project is part of the United We Serve Campaign.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama created the United We Serve Campaign to promote a renewed focus on the environment, safety and community renewal.

You know each of us has an opportunity to make a difference in our communities.

We can volunteer at our child’s school, donate groceries to a food pantry or simply help our neighbors who might be struggling.

Every single act of kindness and service does matters.

While folks around the State turned out on Friday for public service, we were also reminded this week that the chain of events sparked on September 11 continues.

It’s impossible to compare this small project to the work that our first responders and military do every single day in service to their country.

This week, Private First Class Jordan Brochu was laid to rest during a service in Waterville.

Private Brochu was killed while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

I spoke with Private Brochu’s mother not long after learning of his death.

She told me that her son wanted to make his family and his community proud.

He did that with his service. He made all of us very proud.

And we will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers.

His tragic death is a reminder that the wounds of September 11 have not fully healed.

That families – with young men and women serving in far away and dangerous places – continue to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

For the men and women in the military, every day is a Day of Service and Remembrance.

They brave the unknown, away from the comfort of family and friends, for the ideals that have made our country a shining light to the world.

It is appropriate that on this anniversary that we all do our own, small part to make our communities a better place.

Thank you for listening, and thank you for your service.

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Day of Service

Strengthening Ties for a Common Purpose

September 19, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

When we think of the opportunities and challenges facing Maine, it’s easy to forget that our State is part of a much larger region.

Like here in Maine, our neighbors in New England and the Eastern Canadian provinces have been fighting the effects of the international recession.

Now, as many indicators suggest that the recession is beginning to ease, we still have a long way to go. We stand ready to take advantage of new opportunities.

One thing is clear: When we are able to act with common purpose as a region, we are stronger.

On Tuesday, I was the co-chairman of an important meeting of New England Governors, Eastern Canadian Premiers and their representatives.

Our agenda included critical issues facing our region, ranging from new opportunities in the energy sector, to climate change and pandemic flu preparation.

Throughout the day, there was a healthy exchange of ideas and information.

And we heard from some of the leading thinkers in the private sector.

Men and women who are putting their ideas of a new, green economy and a third industrial revolution into practice.

A common question, asked many different ways, ran through the day.

What actions can we take to create prosperity for our people and improve our economies?

In short, there was no single answer, no silver bullet that will address all the issues we face.

But there was one, overriding conclusion.

While each of us as states face challenges and unique circumstances, we all benefit when we approach issues together.

Eastern Canada and New England are linked by common borders and a shared culture and heritage.

The ties among us date back to our earliest days, as goods and people moved along our borders.

That same cooperation and the strong bonds that still exist are an asset that must be developed.

In some areas, close relationships are easier than in others.

For example, this week the Maine Emergency Management Agency conducted a joint drill with their partner agencies in New England and Canada.

The purpose was to make sure that if disaster strikes, we will be able to integrate our response and depend upon one another for help.

But in other areas, cooperation is more difficult.

In the past, our region was too easily pulled into competition with itself.

And there remain issues on which a regional consensus might not be possible.

But when we work together, we can all benefit.

For example, Maine, New England and Eastern Canada have tremendous natural resources.

Together, we hold the promise of leading our countries in the development of renewable energy.

We have wind, tidal, hydro-electric and biomass resources that are the envy of the world.

We can reduce our dependency on foreign oil, improve our environment and help to address global climate change.

I’m very proud of the work that has been done on this issue.

During the meeting, we presented the New England Governors’ Renewable Energy Blueprint.

This Blueprint is an important tool that will help us advance the development of renewable energy in New England.

The report also demonstrates the necessity of partnerships both within our region and with the federal government.

Maine and New England have the cost-effective, low-carbon energy resources that we need to break our dependency on foreign oil.

There are challenges, not the least of which is the necessary investment in transmission capacity.

But if we work together as a region, Maine, New England and Eastern Canada will have the best opportunity to determine our own energy future.

If we allow cooperation to be derailed, then we will allow others to dictate our policies to us, and continue down a road where we pay higher prices for all kinds of energy.

Right now, Midwestern states are working together to build an enormous and costly power line from their region to the East Coast.

Estimates place the cost on the project between $80 billion dollars and $160 billion dollars.

With our intra-region resources we can meet the same power needs at a fraction of the cost.

Early estimates suggest we could bring the same amount of energy to the same market for no more than $20 billion dollars.

That translates into billions of dollars of savings for taxpayers and ratepayers.

It means a cleaner, more sustainable energy future for all of North America.

But the opportunities we have are not guaranteed.

We have to be smart, bold and flexible.

And if we make the right decisions, we will be in control of our energy future.

If, instead, we opt for division, fear and internal competition, we will find that others have gained the upper hand.

Then our energy policy will be dictated to us by others, and the potential for new jobs, new investments and a new energy future will be lost.

I am confident after meeting with my counterparts from New England and Eastern Canada that the strengths we share far outweigh the differences amongst us.

By working together, we can all enjoy increased prosperity.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

Strengthening Ties for a Common Purpose

Trade Mission

September 26, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Since taking office in 2003, I have made it a priority to reduce Maine’s dependence on fossil fuels and improve our State’s position as a leader in renewable energy.

We have made great progress, but we have not yet capitalized on the full potential of our growing renewable energy sector.

This week, I led a Renewable Energy Trade Mission to Spain and Germany, and also visited a deep-water offshore wind platform in Norway.

Spain and Germany and the United States lead the world in the production of wind turbines and installed wind power.

By the end of 2008, 11 and a half percent of Spain’s electricity production was coming from wind.

And the country has set aggressive goals in building on that capacity.

In addition, Spain is the home of Iberdrola, which owns Energy East and Central Maine Power.

Iberdrola is one of the largest wind power operators in the United States and has plans to more than triple its capacity by 2012.

The country offers great potential as a source of investment in Maine and as a market for technologies that will be developed and tested here.

Germany has a long history of renewable energy production and was the 5th largest market for U.S. exports in 2008.

The country is rapidly developing its ability to build and maintain offshore wind farms.

Both offer incredible opportunities for Maine businesses to attract significant investment here at home.

In Maine, we understand the necessity of improved energy security and an end to our reliance on foreign oil.

We have tremendous untapped natural resources, including wind, tidal, hydro and wood-based sources of energy.

And we have taken the necessary steps to put them to work for a more prosperous Maine.

Two years ago, I convened the Governor’s Wind Power Task Force.

We developed legislation that set ambitious but achievable targets for wind power.

By 2015 – just six years from now – we will produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity from wind. By 2020, that number will grow 3,000 megawatts, with at least 10 percent coming from offshore wind.

Maine is already New England’s leader in developing land-based wind power.

We represent 95 percent of all the wind power in New England so far.

We have more than 300 megawatts of currently operating or under construction and another 450 megawatts being planned.

And our offshore wind resource is even greater, with the potential to produce as much electricity as 45 nuclear power plants.

Our tidal energy resource is large, strong and predictable, and a pilot project is moving forward near Eastport in Washington County.

The momentum is clearly with us.

We are growing the partnerships with our regional neighbors and with the federal government. And they’re both necessary for our success.

Together with my fellow New England governors, we have approved a regional Renewable Energy Blueprint that will help to guide a cooperative approach to energy production and transmission.

And we continue to build productive relationships with our federal partners, including the White House, Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In June, Maine hosted a highly acclaimed “EnergyOcean 2009” Conference that brought together 350 leaders in ocean energy technology and innovation.

The conference and its success underscored Maine’s growing reputation in the renewable and ocean energy sectors.

And today we are working to identify between one and five wind technology demonstration sites in Maine’s coastal waters.

The sites will serve as a proving ground for new technologies that will help our State capture the power of the wind offshore.

Maine also sets at the nexus of delivering clean, renewable electricity to power-hungry areas to the south in a way that benefits ratepayers and taxpayers alike.

I love Maine, and it’s hard to get me to travel out of State.

But when it comes to making Maine’s case on the world stage, it’s often an easy sell.

Our State’s reputation for craftsmanship, for hardworking, friendly people and wondrous natural resources has already circled the globe.

On the trip last week, I worked to spread the word that Maine is the place to conduct renewable and wind energy business.

We have the strong research work going on at the University of Maine and with partners around the State.

We are committed to a cleaner, more secure energy future.

And we have the people, regulatory climate, and natural resources to be successful.

So I know that this mission will pay dividends to the people of Maine for years to come.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Trade Mission

Creating Jobs

October 3, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Right now, our country is in an unusual position.

We are beginning to recover from the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression.

There are good indicators that things are starting to improve, at least on the national level.

But the scars of the recession are healing slowly, especially in the states.

Maine is no different.

We saw some positive signs from the Recovery Act and the Cash for Clunkers program, and it appears that our real estate market is slowly improving.

But State revenues are continuing to fall short of projections, and we haven’t seen job growth we would expect with a recovery.

More than ever, our State must focus on creating a good environment for businesses to grow, expand and prosper.

I believe the very best social program is a good job.

And that’s why I’m proud of the work that’s going on in Maine right now.

Last year, working with the Maine Legislature, we lowered the State’s top income tax rate from 8.5 to 6.5 percent for people making less than $250,000 a year.

The change not only helps working Mainers, but it also helps many of the State’s small business and will encourage investment in Maine.

The move won accolades from the Walk Street Journal and the Tax Foundation.

We have also expanded our State’s economic development programs, like Pine Tree Zones, which will help attract new and growing businesses to the State.

And we have been recognized nationally for our efforts to redevelop Brunswick Naval Air Station.

And we are working continually to improve opportunities for Mainers to learn the skills they need to be successful in a changing economy.

But creating a good environment for job growth takes even more.

We have to foster an attitude in Maine that we are open and ready for business.

That’s why I led a trade mission to Europe in September that included the Ivy League of Maine businesses.

We went to Europe to show that Maine is serious about growing new jobs in expanding fields, such as renewable energy.

Maine has tremendous potential to become an international leader in the renewable energy sector.

We’ve been blessed with abundant natural resources, and the research going on at the University of Maine puts us in an excellent position for success.

Already, Maine produces 95 percent of the wind power in New England and has developed a regulatory environment that is strong, stable and predictable.

But our future is not guaranteed.

That’s why it’s important that we fight for every job we can.

That means protecting the jobs that we have, and bringing new jobs home.

And that’s why we must reach out and develop relationships that will help us develop the technologies we need for success.

In Oakfield, Maine, we see a good example of how new ideas can delivery real benefits.

This week, the town overwhelmingly approved the development of a 34-turbine wind farm.

The votes came during a special town meeting in which voters also rejected a moratorium on wind projects.

Oakfield made the right decision.

The project will generate enough electricity to power more than 20,000 homes.

But the agreement also means a new fire station for the town, road improvements and a scholarship fund for students from the town who attend a Maine college or university.

This is the sort of economic development that will pay dividends for years to come, benefitting local taxpayers, students and making our country more energy independent.

If we want to grow jobs and grow our economy, we have to be ready when opportunity knocks.

In Maine, we are committed to charting a course for economic prosperity that protects our most important assets: our people and our natural resources.

We will always protect the things that make our State strong: Our clean water and air, our open spaces, and our commitment to the environment.

And we can do it in a way that reduces our dependency on foreign oil and reduces pollution.

If we want good things to happen, we’re going to have to make them happen.

I can see a Maine, not too far into the future, that leads the nation in onshore and offshore wind power generation and renewable power generation.

Where technologies developed right here are put to work around the world.

Where good jobs and growing industries call Maine home.

I have seen what’s happening in other places, and I know we have the people to do it better here.

We have tough days ahead of us.

But we will recover and we will grow.

The foundation is being set right now for a greener, more prosperous Maine.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

Creating Jobs

Governor Mourns Death of Soldier with Maine Ties

October 7, 2009

Oct. 7, 2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today had information regarding the death of a soldier with Maine ties confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk, 30, died Oct. 3 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked the outpost where he was stationed. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

Sgt. Kirk’s hometown was listed by the military as South Portland, and according to published reports he was born in Thomaston, Maine. Members of his family still live in Maine.

“Our prayers go out to Sgt. Kirk’s family,” Governor Baldacci said. “His death is a terrible tragedy, and we will honor his memory and his sacrifice.”

Governor Baldacci will order flags flown at half-staff on the day of Sgt. Kirk’s funeral.

No further information is available at this time.

Governor's Weekly Radio Address: International Relations

October 10, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

For all governors, the top priority is looking out for the well-being of the people who live in our state.

Every decision I make comes with the intent of protecting Maine and expanding opportunities for the people who live and work here.

Sometimes, that means reaching beyond our borders to attract new jobs and new industries, to defend our economy, to make sure our State is heard in Washington, and to assist our nation’s allies around the world.

This week, Maine hosted an official delegation from Montenegro, one of the world’s newest democracies.

Montenegro was once part of Yugoslavia. In 2006, the country declared its independence.

Later that same year, the Maine National Guard began a partnership program with the young country.

As a new country, Montenegro needs our help in establishing the institutions that are the foundation for democracy.

Our National Guard has worked to transition their military into a professional force capable of participating in NATO missions.

When Maine’s National Guard soldiers deploy next year to Afghanistan, we expect a platoon from Montenegro to join them.

But the relationship has grown beyond just military exchanges.

In 2007, the president of Montenegro visited Maine and the international relationship has grown stronger since.

Through support from the federal government, Maine has sent more than 23 missions to Montenegro.

We have helped train the country’s marine patrol, increased exchange between our institutions of higher education, and begun work to expand our economic development and tourism ties.

It’s a relationship that helps our National Guard, it helps our State, helps our country and helps to promote democracy around the world.

But as Maine looks out for its interests on the world stage, there will also be disagreements.

Right now, Maine and the United States are in a dispute with Canada and New Brunswick over shipping in Passamaquoddy Bay, the St. Croix River and through Head Harbor Passage.

There is much that binds Maine and New Brunswick together.

We have common borders and many common interests.

During my term as governor, I have worked hard to increase cross-border cooperation on a number of issues critical to both sides.

And we have made great progress by recognizing that our region is only stronger when New England and Eastern Canada are able to work together.

But these strong relationships do not guarantee that we will always agree on all issues.

Passamaquoddy Bay and the St. Croix River are boundary waters between the United States and Canada.

According to international law, ships headed to port in Maine have as much right to use the passage as ships headed to Canada.

Canada disagrees and has asserted that the river and bay are “internal” Canadian waters, and that commerce there can be controlled and regulated by Ottawa.

In the simplest of language possible, that’s wrong.

Ships bound for Maine and the United States have the right to travel up the river.

The issue of right of passage has been tied up with two current proposals to develop liquefied natural gas terminals in Maine. Canada, which has an LNG terminal of its own, is attempting to block the developments on our side of the border.

While I support the development of LNG facilities in Maine as long as they meet all environmental and safety requirements and have the support of the host communities, the issues along the St. Croix, Head Harbor Passage and Passamaquoddy Bay go much deeper than these two proposed projects.

Today, Canada and New Brunswick have made the decision that it is in their best interest to attempt to block tankers from reaching port in the United States.

Tomorrow, the decision could be made that other types of commercial traffic should be blocked.

As Maine works to develop and grow exports, there is great potential for wood pulp, biofuels, wood chips and any number of other products to be shipped down the St. Croix to markets around the world.

Annually, more than 100 deep draft cargo ships visit the ports of Eastport in the U.S. and Bayside in Canada already, and the U.S. Coast Guard uses the waterway to reach the ocean. If Canada’s claim is left unchallenged, that traffic will also be left to the discretion of Ottawa.

It isn’t appropriate for the Canadian government to hold control over commerce in Maine and the United States.

I have met with the Obama administration and with the United States State Department, and both have reiterated their support for the right of innocent passage through Head Harbor Passage.

Whether LNG terminals are developed in Washington County or not, we cannot cede control of commerce in Maine to another country, no matter how well we are able to cooperate on other issues.

Maine has much to offer on the national and world stage, but our top priority will always be what’s best for our people.

Thank you and have a good holiday weekend.

Related Documents

Governor Orders Flags at Half-Staff on Tuesday, Oct. 13

October 10, 2009

AUGUSTA – In remembrance and honor of Sgt. Joshua Kirk, Governor John E. Baldacci has directed that the United States flag and the State of Maine flag be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009.

Sgt. Kirk’s funeral will be held at 11 a.m. at Saint Michael’s Church in Exeter, NH.

Sgt. Kirk, 30, died Oct. 3 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked the outpost where he was stationed. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

Sgt. Kirk’s hometown was listed by the military as South Portland, and according to published reports he was born in Thomaston, Maine. Members of his family still live in Maine.

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Budget

October 17, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Looking back over the week’s news, it’s easy to understand why there’s so much confusion about the national and State economy.

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial average topped 10,000 for the first time in more than a year.

We also announced the good news about a new company moving to Maine, with plans to hire 125 people.

At the same time, unemployment remains too high and State revenues are not meeting projections.

Most economists believe that the national recession ended late this summer, but also think it will take several months before things stabilize.

Like most other states, revenues in Maine are under budget.

While the evidence suggests that economic expansion will take hold next year, we have to take the necessary steps to keep Maine’s financial house in order now.

So this week, I directed all State agencies to make plans to reduce spending to bring the budget back into balance.

The targets I’ve set to reduce spending are by $100 million dollars this year and $100 million dollars next year.

Already, the budget we passed early this year reduced State spending by $500 million below the last two-year budget.

Now, that’s the first time that a biennial budget has been less than its predecessor in over 30 years.

So the task I’ve laid out for my administration will be difficult.

But it’s clear we must do more – and do it without raising broad-based taxes or cutting the most vulnerable in our society.

We must find efficiencies and make the changes necessary to keep spending in line with resources.

We must continue with the reforms, and protect the gains we have already made.

We can’t afford to undo important progress, like the steps we have taken to reduce unnecessary administration in public schools.

And at the same time, we must protect the core of our safety net and critical services that government provides.

We must find ways to invest in our people so that they are prepared to take advantage of new opportunities when they emerge.

In Maine, we have shown that even during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, we are able to balance a fair, responsible and compassionate government with the necessity of reduced spending.

It hasn’t been easy, and it’s only going to get more difficult as we move forward.

But working with the Legislature, we have demonstrated our commitment to Maine values of good government and fiscal discipline.

Almost every State has faced the same financial dilemma as Maine. What sets us apart has been our ability to work together, across party lines.

With that same type of cooperation, I am confident we can chart the best path forward.

Even now, as we work to close an anticipated budget gap, we know that a turn-around is coming.

The steps we have taken to lower the income tax rates, to improve business incentives and to safeguard our economy will leave us in a stronger position for recovery.

So on Wednesday, PlumChoice, a Massachusetts high-tech company, announced its plans to expand into Maine.

This is the first time the company has created a new Center of Excellence outside of its home state.

The competition for PlumChoice was intense.

Ten other locations were considered for the expansion, but PlumChoice picked Scarborough, Maine, because our State has a high-quality workforce and the right business incentives.

This is exactly the kind of innovative company Maine wants to attract. It’s bringing good jobs and benefits that were once outsourced to foreign companies back to the United States and to the State of Maine.

The company is growing fast. It hopes to double its revenues this year.

Hiring has already begun and the company expects to hire 125 employees by the end of this year.

Of course, one new company doesn’t mean that we’ve recovered.

But it does demonstrate that our State has the foundation to be successful.

We have created an environment that is attractive to cutting-edge companies, and that we have the workforce they need for success.

In the days and months ahead, we will face many tough decisions.

We will have to reconsider our priorities and make decisions about our values and the appropriate size of government.

And it won’t be easy. There will be disagreements.

But I know that as long as we all approach our current financial reality with an open mind and a willingness to work together, we can move forward.

That’s what Maine people expect, and that’s what we are going to do.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

Budget

Recovery Act Reports

October 24, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week Maine completed its first required reports to the federal government for the Recovery Act.

The results are impressive.

The Recovery Act is putting thousands of Mainers to work.

It’s improving vital State infrastructure.

And it’s helping Maine families get through the toughest economic period since the Great Depression.

More than 3,400 people have been directly employed in Maine on transportation and clean water projects alone.

Hundreds of other jobs have been created or saved by Recovery Act funding for health care, education, housing and in other project areas.

In just the first six months, the Recovery Act has created thousands of jobs, saved many more and paid direct benefits to Maine families that have helped them through the most challenging economy of our time.

So people are working today because of the Recovery Act.

And hundreds of thousands more have received tax breaks, and received extended unemployment insurance and had their health insurance protected.

In addition to Recovery Act dollars that flowed through State agencies, more than 5,000 Mainers applied for the first-time homebuyer credit, which was expanded by the law.

Maine residents have also received $73.5 million in additional Unemployment Insurance compensation.

And about 500,000 Maine families benefited from the “Making Work Pay” tax credits.

The Recovery Act has made a real difference to Maine families.

And Maine has led the way in making the Recovery Act successful.

Our State was the first in the country to obligate 100 percent of the funding for transportation projects, putting people to work quickly and getting important road and bridge projects done this summer.

The results can be seen around the State.

Of 71 projects, 64 have been started and 27 have already been completed, including the largest – the reconstruction of the north bound lanes of Interstate 295.

The $31 million project was done efficiently, and Mainers are already reaping the benefits.

I’m also very proud of the work the Recovery Act has made possible at the Department of Labor.

About 700 people went to work as part of the summer youth program, including about 60 young people who learned valuable skills helping others in their community weatherize their homes.

Housing projects in Augusta, Houlton and Bangor have created or will create another 295 jobs.

And education funding has created or saved another 120 jobs.

With more than a year and half of the Recovery Act remaining, we are already seeing results that will last a generation.

Maine communities will benefit from 53 projects to enhance drinking water quality, and another 35 projects will help ensure our State’s water remain healthy and clean.

From the beginning, both President Obama and I have focused on accountability and transparency.

Maine has been at the forefront of making Recovery Act information public and working cooperatively with the Legislature to ensure appropriate oversight.

We are working hard to make sure taxpayers can see where their money is going and to track how it is being spent.

I am proud of the work we have done at www-dot-maine-dot-gov-forward slash-recovery.

The State Web site is a model for information sharing, and we are continually working to make it more user-friendly and informational.

States were required to make their first reports on Recovery Act spending to the federal government on Oct. 10.

States had until midnight on Oct. 21 to review and revise the information.

Maine’s preliminary reports became available Thursday on our Web site.

And they will be available from the federal government on Oct. 30.

The Web site includes an overview of major categories where work was done and more than 130 individual reports on how Recovery Act dollars have been used.

I encourage you to visit the Web site and look at the information that is available.

So while our economy is just beginning to recovery from a global economic recession, we know without a doubt that the Recovery Act has made a difference.

I especially want to thank our Congressional delegation for their support of the Recovery Act. Both Sen. Snowe and Sen. Collins were vital to its passage in the Senate, and the leadership of Rep. Michaud and Rep. Pingree were instrumental in the House.

In just six months, much has been done that will benefit Maine.

But the work will continue, and the benefits of the Recovery Act will extend well into the future.

We will see more projects completed and more jobs created.

And we will see the lasting impact of this significant public investment in Maine and our people.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Recovery Act Reports

Governor Recognized by State Chamber of Commerce

October 27, 2009

SOUTH PORTLAND – Governor John E. Baldacci spoke this evening at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce annual meeting. He thanked the members for being valuable partners working to improve Maine’s business climate and grow good-paying, private sector jobs. The Governor was presented with a plaque from the Chamber recognizing his efforts to improve Maine’s economy.

“The global economic crisis has brought out the best in Maine people,” said the Governor. “We have been weathering the storm, making hard budget choices. We’ve had to work more efficiently, this session passing a two-year State budget that is $500 million less than its predecessor. We know there are still tough decisions to be made as we continue the hard work of bringing spending in line with resources. All the while, we need to continue to build a solid foundation for future economic and job growth.”

The Governor reiterated his promise to approach the budget shortfall without raising broad based taxes. He also said that the State must ensure that we have the workforce needs to compete globally.

“That’s why Question 3 on school administration reform is so important,” said the Governor. “I appreciate the recognition by Maine’s business community that the future of our workforce is at stake. Our children deserve the best education. Going backward now would put in jeopardy the progress we have made to put resources back into the classrooms.”

Governor Baldacci said that the State has been working to build partnerships with the business community because he recognizes that government cannot be the answer to all problems.

“Public-private partnerships are the key to revitalizing our economy and creating jobs,” said the Governor. The Governor provided the Advanced Structures & Composites Center at the University of Maine as an example of such partnerships that are yielding economic growth and job creation.

“With previous jobs bond financing, Maine people put significant resources behind critical composites research being conducted at the University of Maine,” said the Governor. “The composites technology developed at the Center has helped our boat building industry compete globally. In partnership with the private sector, the Composite Center boasts nearly 300 product development and testing projects in the past five years. But this wouldn’t have happened without significant support in the private sector.”

Governor Baldacci outlined other actions taken recently to positively impact the State’s business climate:

o Reducing unemployment taxes; o Expanding Pine Tree Zones, enabling more existing Maine businesses tax benefits for their expansions; o Lowering the State’s top income tax rate from 8.5 to 6.5 percent for people making less than $250,000 a year; o Investing in areas that will result in future returns for businesses through R&D, quality places and transportation bonds; o Providing for funds for industry cluster development through the Maine Technology Institute; o Repealing the Business Equipment Property Tax Reimbursement so that new investments in business equipment will not be taxed – this helps our businesses to expand and hire new employees; and o Working on a budget that controls spending while making crucial investments to create sustainable, private sector jobs.

Maine’s Budget Challenge

October 31, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, State departments and agencies submitted ideas for a new round of budget reductions.

No final decisions have been made about what I will present to the Legislature in December, but many difficult choices are ahead.

Maine’s economy remains in flux, and we are preparing to make tough decisions to keep the State budget in balance as required by law.

Our State has shown that we are able to balance our budget without raising broad-based taxes and with overwhelming bipartisan support.

And we have cut spending dramatically.

And we have exercised the fiscal discipline necessary to protect the most vulnerable, make smart investments and fund K-12 education.

We know that in this time of economic stress, Maine must have a solid foundation from which we can grow.

In the spring, we passed a two-year, bipartisan State budget that is $500 million less than its predecessor.

But now, it seems almost certain that we will have to cut more.

My administration is working with the Appropriations Committee and the Legislature on ways to further reduce State spending.

While our situation is serious, I’m not going to raise broad-based taxes to balance the budget.

To put things into perspective, my first two-year budget was roughly $5.4 billion dollars.

Of that, almost $700 hundred million dollars per year went to education.

Before it’s all said and done, our budget this year could be close to that same amount.

But now, in 2010 we are budgeting more than $1 billion on education while enrollment has continued to decline.

We’ve made the most of this investment because voters said, at the ballot box, it was their priority.

To get there, we have reduced the State workforce by about 1,000 positions, or about 8.8 percent of the State workforce.

We have combined State departments and agencies, and improved efficiencies throughout government.

We have cut and restructured, and then cut some more.

Our children deserve the best education.

And we’ve have worked diligently to make sure that scarce resources get into the classroom.

That’s where they do the most good, supporting teachers and their students.

We must also continue our efforts to streamline State government.

We will set priorities and live within our means.

We recognize that Government can’t be the answer to all problems.

But government can ensure a foundation for success by enacting good public policies.

With the Legislature, we’ve been able to:

Expand Pine Tree Zones, enabling more existing Maine businesses tax benefits for their expansions.

Lowered the State’s top income tax rate from 8.5 to 6.5 percent for people making less than $250,000 a year.

We’ve invested in areas that will result in future returns for businesses through research and development, quality places and transportation bonds.

We’ve provided funds for industry cluster development through the Maine Technology Institute.

We’ve repealed the Business Equipment Property Tax so that new investments in business equipment will not be taxed – this helps our businesses to expand and to hire new employees.

And we have controlled spending while making crucial investments to create sustainable, private sector jobs.

These initiatives will help create good-paying jobs with benefits.

Education and human services account for about 80 percent of the State budget.

In both areas, we’ve made important structural changes and improved efficiency.

Every state in the nation struggles to control health care spending and the cost of their Medicaid program.

During tough economic times, more people turn to these programs for help, putting even greater pressure on limited resources.

As we look at the steps other States are taking, we see that Maine has led the way in constraining costs.

We have held growth in Medicaid to less than 3 percent, which is well below the national average.

And we have done it while maintaining the core of our safety net.

Good government takes hard work, and Maine people have been doing it.

And we will continue to create opportunities with public policy that:

• Invests in our people;

• Builds infrastructure;

• Focuses on key sectors of Maine’s economy; and

• Creates a fair and stable business environment.

It’s all about jobs and expanding opportunities for Mainers.

It won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight, especially during this challenging budget environment.

But working together, we’ve demonstrated our commitment to Maine values of good government and fiscal discipline.

The steps we have taken to lower the income tax rate, to improve business incentives and to safeguard our economy will leave us in a stronger position for recovery.

Thank you, and have a safe and happy weekend.

Related Documents

Maine’s Budget Challenge

The Road Ahead

November 7, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

It was an exciting week here in Maine.

With near record turnout, Maine voters went to the polls on Tuesday and decided some of the most important issues facing our State.

While I know that many people were disappointed with the results, I am proud of all the folks who turned out to vote.

Voting is the backbone of democracy, and hundreds of thousands of Mainers from every part of our State took part on Tuesday.

On Question 1, I still firmly believe that Maine’s Constitution requires that we treat everyone in our State the same.

We didn’t take this issue on because we were certain that we would win.

We did it because it was the right thing to do.

On Tuesday, we didn’t reach the top of the mountain.

But we did change a lot of hearts and a lot of minds.

Mainers now have a better understanding of the issue.

And I remain impressed with the way the people of this State stood up and told their personal stories, and with the courage that it required.

Eventually, we will be successful in making sure all Mainers, individuals and families, are treated equally.

But for today, we must respect the judgment of Maine’s voters.

On several other issues, Mainers spoke loudly.

Voters rejected for the third time in recent years a ballot initiative often referred to as TABOR.

They also rejected a proposal that would have changed the excise tax.

And they affirmed their support for school administrative reform.

The votes demonstrate that people understand that Maine has reduced its budget to match the economic times while protecting our State’s core values.

Working with the Legislature, my administration reduced the State’s two-year budget by $500 million dollars, and did it with broad, bipartisan support.

It’s the first time in at least 35 years that a two-year budget has been less than its predecessor.

We maintained the safety net for our most vulnerable citizens and did it without raising taxes.

During these tough economic times, I know that we can not add to the tax burden of Maine families.

Voters recognized that we should not allow our budget process to be driven by formulas.

Through a thoughtful and deliberative process, we have shown our ability to balance the size of government with available resources.

I was also encouraged that voters supported our efforts to reduce administrative costs in K-12 education.

By rejecting Question 3, voters showed that they understand that the best way to help our students is to put resources into the classroom, not outdated administrative structures.

I know that it’s difficult to cut the State budget.

And I know it’s hard to change old habits.

But we must adapt, and we must be willing to change if we want our students to get the best possible education.

We have done much to reduce the cost of government, to make it more efficient and reduce its size.

But more work is necessary.

Early estimates suggest that State revenue for October will continue to fall short of projections.

The national recession continues to impact our State, and we must take action now.

I am preparing plans to immediately cut State spending.

The process is called a curtailment, but it’s a blunt instrument.

But I am prepared to use it to uphold my obligation under law and the Constitution of this State to balance the State budget.

Even after curtailment, more cuts are coming.

In December, I will submit to the Legislature revisions to the State budget.

Those changes will further cut spending and position Maine for the economic recovery to come.

Some of those cuts won’t be popular, but we can’t raise taxes.

Instead, we must balance spending with current resources. And that’s the responsible course of action.

While the lingering effects of the national recession require us to make more hard choices, I’m also gratified that Maine voters continue to recognize the importance of investing in our people.

On Tuesday, voters approved a transportation investment plan that will put thousands of people to work.

It will improve our roads and bridges, make important investments in ports and harbors and attract $148 million dollars in federal and other matching funds.

By investing in our infrastructure, we will create jobs and promote Maine businesses and give our economy a boost.

And as we look ahead and the passion from Tuesday’s election fades, I know that the people of Maine care deeply about their neighbors and their communities.

The strong turnout demonstrates just how much.

Your involvement and willingness to participate is the hallmark of a healthy democracy.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Veterans Day

November 14, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week we paused to honor the men and women who have served our country in the military.

Wednesday was Veterans Day, and there were celebrations held around the State to show our gratitude and respect for all the people who have served and all those who continue to serve today.

Whether it was the parade in Bangor and Brewer that I attended or similar gatherings elsewhere, Mainers turned out to support our veterans.

We owe a tremendous debt to those who serve.

They leave jobs, friends and family, and voluntarily put themselves into harm’s way.

They fight in far off places, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

But they do much more.

They build roads and schools.

Deliver food and medical supplies.

They save lives and provide comfort.

And they are an example of all that is great about our country.

In the worst of circumstances, they are professional and dedicated, putting the lives of others ahead of their own.

On Tuesday, I had the great privilege to meet Retired Major Eva Price.

Eva was born in 1909 and spent a career as a nurse in the United States Army.

During that career which stretched 20 years, Eva treated our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in far-flung places around the globe.

She arrived in Japan soon after the bombing of Hiroshima and treated the civilians injured by the nuclear blast that helped to end the war.

She also served in the Philippines, Germany and Seoul, South Korea.

Later her duties took her to Washington State, Arkansas, New Jersey and Walter Reed Hospital in Washington.

At each stop, Eva helped to open doors for women who wanted to serve in uniform. And at each stop, she took care of the soldiers who had been injured wearing the uniform of the United States of America.

Eva’s story is one that we can all celebrate as an example of a life of service.

Today, men and women continue to answer the same call of duty that she took all around the world.

Right now, there are about 160 members of the Maine National Guard serving overseas.

Early next year, that number will grow by roughly 900, as elements of the 133rd Engineer Battalion, the (Eleven-thirty-sixth) 1136th Transportation Company and the 172nd Mountain Infantry Company will deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan.

This will be the second deployment for all of these units.

We have about 2,100 men and women in the Maine National Guard.

Every one of them is a hero.

More than 2,300 members of the Maine National Guard have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Eight gave their lives for their country.

More than 50 have earned Purple Hearts.

Our State relies upon these brave men and women during foreign deployments and to safeguard our State during an emergency here at home.

While a high percentage of the Maine National Guard will be serving overseas, the mission at home is also important.

We are confident that the men and women serving in-state are up to any challenge we might face – whether it’s an ice storm, blizzard or flood.

Each time they have been called upon, they have answered. And I am proud of them all.

As our men and women prepare for a year away from home, those of us staying behind have our own mission to accomplish.

It is our responsibility to make sure these brave soldiers know that they are in our thoughts and prayers.

It is our responsibility to take care of their families, to support them during the good times and the bad.

It is our responsibility to make sure that those who are deployed receive everything they need – the best equipment, the best health care, and the support to accomplish a difficult mission.

And when they come home, we must make sure that care continues.

We ask our soldiers to put their lives on hold for more than a year.

To live in hard places away from the comfort of home.

And to risk their lives.

When their duty is done, our duty continues.

We must make sure that our veterans receive the support and gratitude they have earned – not just on Veterans Day, but every day.

On behalf of the First Lady, myself and a grateful State, thank you to all the men and women who have served and to all of them who continue to serve today.

Thank you for listening and have a nice weekend.

Related Documents

Veterans Day

Community Welcomes Maine Red Claws to the State

November 13, 2009

PORTLAND – At an event to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine, Governor John E. Baldacci and First Lady Karen Baldacci were among an enthusiastic crowd that welcomed the Maine Red Claws players, coaches and their families to the State.

In welcoming the Red Claws, the Governor said, “You should know that you do not just join one city or one region, but you are now part of a big family that is the State of Maine. Maine has a long and proud basketball tradition – from State high school tournament time to our beloved Boston Celtics. That’s why we are honored to become a part of the NBA family, especially with a development team.”

The inaugural season of the Maine Red Claws begins with a preseason game at the Augusta Civic Center on Nov. 23. The first regular season home game is on Dec. 4 in Portland.

Governor Baldacci praised the Red Claws for showing their dedication to the State through the numerous charitable events and fundraisers they have already been a part of. According to the Red Claws, the team has already raised $40,000 for local charities.

The event this evening celebrated the establishment of an official affiliation between the Maine Red Claws and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Maine.

“The Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Maine stands out as a tremendous resource for youth,” said the Governor. “It’s these kinds of partnerships and this kind of support for our kids that make Maine so special. Working together, we’ll ensure a brighter future for all our children. I know that the Red Claws will help the Boys and Girls Clubs continue to make a difference by supporting children and families in this region.”

The Governor said that Maine people appreciate the commitment from the Maine NBA ownership group to establish this team.

“More than two years ago, I met with Jon Jennings, now President and General Manager of the Maine Red Claws, to highlight the many reasons why making Maine the home of a Development League team made sense,” said the Governor. “Tonight, we celebrate a new chapter to Maine’s rich basketball history with the addition of the Maine Red Claws, and we look forward to the first of many exciting seasons.”

Maine Records Two More Deaths Linked to H1N1

November 14, 2009

AUGUSTA – Two more deaths have been reported linked to H1N1 influenza in Maine, bringing the total to five since August, and a Kennebec County long-term care facility is experiencing an outbreak of H1N1, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control.

A Hancock County resident between the ages of 25 years old and 50 years old and a Kennebec County resident older than 65 years old died last week. Both had H1N1 and both had underlying conditions.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased,” said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC. “While most people with H1N1 in Maine and the nation have had relatively mild infections, this news demonstrates how severe influenza can be, especially in those with underlying conditions, pregnant women and children.”

No additional information will be released on the two deaths to protect the privacy of the families.

In addition to several dozen schools with outbreaks of flu this week, a long-term care facility in Kennebec County appears to be the first such facility with an outbreak of H1N1. The facility has been closed to visitors, and all staff and residents are being placed on antiviral medicines such as Tamiflu from the State’s stockpile.

“While seasonal flu commonly causes outbreaks in long-term care facilities, H1N1 has not, and this is felt to be in part because infection with H1N1 is relatively uncommon in people older than 64 years,” said Dr. Mills. “We are working with this facility to implement the same measures as we would with a seasonal flu outbreak, with the addition of antiviral medicines for all staff as well as residents.”

Since first being recognized in April 2009, novel influenza A (H1N1) has spread across the globe. In June, a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization. Children and young adults are disproportionately affected by H1N1, accounting for the majority of confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths. An estimated 4,000 people in the United States have died of H1N1.

In August, a York County man in his 50s was the first Maine resident to die of the pandemic strain of H1N1. Over the past three weeks, H1N1 has become widespread in Maine. This past 10 days a young adult and a middle-aged adult in Penobscot were identified to have died of H1N1. All people who have died thus far in Maine have had underlying conditions, some very serious ones. Over 100 schools have experienced outbreaks and several dozen have been hospitalized.

In a normal flu season in Maine, an estimated 150 people die, about a dozen outbreaks occur in long-term care facilities, and usually fewer than a half dozen schools report high absentee rates.

“People should assume they will be exposed to the H1N1 influenza at some point, and with very limited vaccine supplies in Maine right now, we should all take precautions to prevent serious illness,” said Dr. Mills.

These precautions include:

• When vaccine is available, consider getting H1N1 flu vaccine if you are in a high priority group. Those in these groups include: pregnant women, anyone 6 months – 25 years of age, caregivers and household contacts of young infants younger than 6 months old, anyone 25 – 65 with underlying medical conditions and health care workers. Eventually there should be sufficient vaccine for anyone who desires it.
• Contact your health care provider if there are flu-like symptoms in a household in which anyone is younger than 2 years old, 65 years or older, pregnant, and/or has an underlying medical condition. There are prescription medicines (antivirals such as Tamiflu) that may help reduce the severity and duration of the illness.

Although most people can stay home without seeing a health care provider, anyone with the flu should seek medical attention for:

• Dehydration; • Trouble breathing; • Getting better, then suddenly getting a lot worse; • Any major change in one’s condition.

Stay home if you are sick, until you are fever-free for a full 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine.

Cough and sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue. Throw this tissue away.

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, but especially after coughing and sneezing. Alcohol-based hand gels can also be used.

Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes. Germs can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Avoid contact with sick people. If you are at very high risk for complication, you may want to avoid large crowds.

"We know that any type of influenza can cause serious illness, so it is important that we all redouble our prevention efforts to limit the spread of this illness and to prepare for continued expansion of H1N1," said Dr. Mills.

For more information, http://www.maineflu.gov .

Curtailment

November 21, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

As our thoughts begin to turn toward the holidays, we can lose sight of the challenges that Maine faces.

The effects of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression continue to weigh on Maine.

State revenues have not met projections.

On Friday, I took action to cut State spending to ensure our budget remains balanced, as required under Maine law and the Constitution.

I ordered a curtailment of roughly $63 million dollars.

A curtailment order is a blunt instrument that allows the governor to cut spending immediately when revenues fall.

It’s a tool that helps us to keep our budget in balance.

I don’t take the order lightly, and I have considered its implications thoroughly.

But we must continue to cut State spending.

There is no option.

The working men and women of Maine cannot afford a tax increase.

And I will not support one.

At the same time, we must balance our budget, which means more cuts.

Last spring, working with Legislature, we passed a two-year budget that is $500 million dollars less than its predecessor budget.

That’s the first time in 35 years that a two-year budget has been less than the one before it.

We passed the budget with broad, bipartisan support.

We made tough cuts while maintaining our core values:

Protecting our most vulnerable;

Safeguarding public health and safety;

And investing in those areas that will help our economy grow once the effects of the national recession end.

Unfortunately, State revenues have continued to decline, and more cuts are necessary.

After the curtailment, the budget revisions I am going to submit to the Legislature in December will include more cuts.

We live in unprecedented times.

The difficult task of predicting how our economy will perform has gotten even harder.

Even the country’s leading corporations have difficulty predicting performance next month, let alone next year.

Like Maine, at least 42 states have had to make additional spending cuts after passing their budgets.

Even as the recession has begun to end on the national level, States continue to struggle.

In 2009, States had to close budget gaps of $72.7 billion dollars.

In 2010, the number is already $113 billion dollars – and growing.

In Maine, we have a history of austerity.

During the last six and a half years, Maine has reduced the size of State government.

We have 1,000 fewer State employees since I became Governor.

And we have made important changes to stretch dollars farther.

We’ve reduced administration throughout state government.

We’ve made major reductions in administrations in health and human services, information technology and finances.

We’ve eliminated and consolidated school administration.

And we’ve combined the oversight and operations of local jails and state prisons.

We’ve done all this – and much more – so we can focus resources on those places where they do the most good.

Government is leaner, more efficient and more effective.

But more must be done.

Following the will of the voters, Maine has also made a significant investment in K-12 education.

Since my first budget in 2003-2004, education funding has grown to almost a billion dollars this year, up from $709 million dollars back then.

And there are 19,000 fewer students.

Without those increases, General Fund spending today would be about at the same level as it was seven years ago.

It hasn’t been easy.

But we must continue the work to maintain a responsible State budget.

Friday’s curtailment will reduce funding in several areas.

Eighty percent of the General Fund goes to support health and human services and education.

As a result, curtailment hits those areas hardest.

But our universities and community colleges will also see reductions, as will nearly every department within State government.

It isn’t pretty, but it is necessary.

We’ve taken special care and evaluated each reduction based on several factors, including:

• Its effects on public health and safety;

• The extent an impact could be minimized;

• And, when possible, that the reduction followed the intent of the Legislature.

While the news is hard to hear, it’s important that school districts and other folks affected by the reductions know as soon as possible what to expect.

I’ve asked the Commissioner of Education to continue to work with the Legislature and local school districts to limit the impact on classrooms.

The days and weeks ahead are going to be difficult.

And I’m going to approach this budget process with an open mind and a commitment to protect the values we all hold dear.

We no longer have the option of saying no to uncomfortable ideas if they allow us to save money, become more efficient and protect important services.

But the people of Maine can respond to any challenge. They prove it every single day. And we also will be able to rise to this challenge.

And as we move forward, we will all have to work together for the greater good of the State.

I know we can do it.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Governor Proclaims Maine Red Claws Day

November 23, 2009

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci proclaimed today as Maine Red Claws Day throughout the State, recognizing the first game of the National Basketball Association Development League team. The Governor invited owners, players and coaches to a pre-game reception at the Blaine House this afternoon. The team will play a pre-season game this evening at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Maine people are enthusiastic about the Red Claws,” said the Governor. “We welcome the players, coaches and their families to the State, and thank the ownership team and the NBA for choosing Maine as the home for an expansion team. I’ve been impressed with the way the team has already shown their commitment to Maine through their partnerships with local charities and through fundraising to benefit Maine children and families. We look forward to this first season of Development League basketball in Maine.”

The Governor will be attending the pre-season game in Augusta this evening. The event starts at 7 p.m.

For more information about the Maine Red Claws, visit http://www.nba.com/dleague/maine

The text of the proclamation follows:

WHEREAS, the State of Maine enters a new era with addition of the NBA Development League team, the Maine Red Claws; and

WHEREAS, the people of Maine hold a deep passion for the game of basketball, from our high school “Tourney Time” to our beloved Boston Celtics; and

WHEREAS, a group of dedicated area businesspeople joined to form an ownership group to bring the newest professional sports team to the State; and

WHEREAS, the State of Maine is excited to become part of the National Basketball Association family with this development team; and

WHEREAS, the owners, players and coaches of the Maine Red Claws have already demonstrated great commitment to Maine’s communities through their support of Maine charities and organizations; and

WHEREAS, the four focus areas for the Maine Red Claws’ charitable giving and partnerships are: health and fitness; education; children and community outreach; and

WHEREAS, the Maine Red Claws begins its inaugural season this evening with a pre-season game at the Augusta Civic Center; and

WHEREAS, we celebrate a new chapter in Maine’s rich basketball history with the addition of the Maine Red Claws and we look forward to the first of many exciting seasons,

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOHN E. BALDACCI, Governor of the State of Maine, do hereby proclaim November 23, 2009 as

Maine Red Claws Day throughout the State of Maine, and urge all citizens to recognize this observance.

Blaine House Christmas Trees Are Delivered

November 24, 2009

AUGUSTA – On behalf of the State of Maine, First Lady Karen Baldacci today accepted the donation of three Christmas trees from the Maine Christmas Tree Association. David Barden of Dalou Farms in St. Albans delivered three Balsam Firs from his farm. The trees will be placed inside the Blaine House and will be decorated in early December by the Kennebec Garden Club.

“We are please to accept this gift to the State,” said First Lady Baldacci. “There's something special about a real Christmas tree -- the beauty, the aroma and the traditions. They are also environmentally friendly, as another tree is planted for each one harvested. We encourage Maine people to support your local Christmas tree growers this season and enjoy the beauty of a fresh real Maine grown Christmas tree.”

“Christmas trees are an important tradition with Maine families for the holiday season,” said Maine Department of Agriculture Commissioner Seth Bradstreet. “Maine's tree farms are providing customers a lot more than simply selecting and cutting a live Christmas tree. Many farms incorporate other attractions such as refreshments, sleigh rides and gift shops, which provide an excellent opportunity for a fun family outing.”

Barden said the Maine Christmas Tree Association has donated trees to the Blaine House for about 20 years. There are approximately 140 members of the Maine Christmas Tree Association.

According to the Maine Department of Agriculture, there are 236 farms in Maine producing nearly 127,000 trees, with a total estimated retail value of $5.26 million.

For more information regarding Maine Christmas trees and where to cut your own, visit http://www.mainechristmastree.com

Budget Preview

December 5, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be presenting to the Legislature my plans for bringing Maine’s two-year budget into balance.

The truth of our country’s economic condition is well-known. Unemployment levels are high, over 10 percent nationally and 8 percent here in Maine.

Businesses are moving with caution and aren’t investing as much.

Consumers are worried about their jobs and their health care and aren’t spending as much either.

So incomes are down. Investments are fragile and people are nervous.

All in all, it translates into an economy that has been slow to regain its footing.

This national recession has been the longest, most severe since the Great Depression, and we feel it at home, at work and in government.

Despite a conservative and data-driven approach to revenue projections, the unprecedented nature of the recession has led economists to consistently downgrade projections for economic growth.

In just the last year, Maine’s revenues have been re-forecast down by $1.1 billion dollars. Most recently, projections for the rest of 2010 and 2011 were reduced by more than $380 million dollars.

It can feel like Maine is all alone.

But the truth is, at least 34 states at last count are in the same situation.

Their Legislatures passed budgets for 2010 and 2011 that now must be cut.

It is a challenging time.

We are called upon to balance the budget at the same time the recession is placing increased demands upon government to take care of people and families in need.

While funding for the State’s Medicaid program has been held almost flat and well-below the national average for growth, the program is serving an additional 20,000 people.

Other programs, like food assistance and unemployment, have grown and more and more people have fallen on hard times.

In the spring, Maine passed a two-year budget that was $500 million dollars less than its predecessor. It’s the first time in at least 35 years that that’s happened.

And on Dec. 18, I will present my plan to close a shortfall of $383 million dollars more.

As a preview, we will not increase taxes. I don’t think working Mainers can afford a heavier burden.

You can expect more cuts across State government.

I will propose new ways to streamline government, and make structural changes that will reduce the cost of government going forward.

And I will also use one-time tools to help reduce the impact of the revenue decline on education, health care, public safety and job creation.

We face a necessity to reduce state spending, but government still has a responsibility to protect its people.

• When you call the police, they come.

• When you need medical care, you can get it.

• When you go to work, you get paid.

• And when things fall a part, there are supports that will help you lift yourself back up.

You can talk about government in a lot of ways, but essentially it is how we, as a people, deliver upon the promises we have made to one another.

Regardless of political party, we all want a good education for our kids, to help our neighbors who are struggling and to expand economic opportunity.

Those are the basics, the essentials. We have to protect them.

And we can do it by making tough choices today that leave us in a better position for recovery.

Already, much has been done.

Government today has more than 1,000 fewer employees than it did when I took office.

We have consolidated school administrative districts, and reduced the redundancy between the state prison and 15 different county jail administrations.

We have merged state agencies and departments, and made our information technology and financial systems more efficient.

And we’ve made major investments in K-12 education while holding the rest of government spending almost static.

My first budget as governor was $5.35 billion dollars. Seven years later, the budget for 2010-2011 will be close to the same, even though we have increased aid to education by more than $500 million dollars with 19,000 fewer students.

We have continued to be fiscally responsible.

And we’ve have never lost sight of our core values.

And we won’t lose sight of them now.

My proposal to balance the budget will include hard choices and will require shared sacrifice.

And we will have to change the way we do business and continue on the path to a smaller, more efficient government.

But we will maintain the essentials. And we will support job growth.

By working together, we can make sure our economy will start to grow again.

Thank you and have a nice weekend.

Related Documents

Budget Preview

Job Creation

December 12, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, we heard from the President a renewed commitment to put Americans back to work.

In February, President Obama, working with Maine’s Congressional Delegation, passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The law made significant investments in infrastructure, health care and education.

It created thousands of jobs in Maine and hundreds of thousands of jobs nationally.

Without question, the law helped our country avoid depression.

Even so, it’s clear that more needs to be done.

In Maine, the unemployment rate remains near 8 percent, while nationally the number is about 10 percent.

That’s still too high.

As I’ve said on many occasions, the best social program is a good job, and the best social service department is the family.

That’s why I was pleased this week when the President outlined his plans to spark job creation.

The plan focuses on several key areas, including:

• Small business growth;

• Investment in roads and bridges;

• Improved communications networks;

• Energy efficiency;

• Direct assistance to workers;

• And extended assistance to state and local governments to avoid layoffs and service reductions when people need help the most.

The plan is bold, but also targeted.

It addresses specific areas that we know will help our economy, put people to work and keep families safe during this unprecedented recession.

Small businesses are the backbone of Maine’s economy, and we’ve known long that they are the foundation for job creation.

The President’s plan will help to ensure that innovative businesses and people have access to the tools they need to be successful.

His plan includes tax incentives for hiring.

Like Maine’s Pine Tree Zone economic development program, the president wants to reward companies that put people to work with good-paying jobs and benefits.

His plan also calls for new investment in roads and bridges, airports and water systems.

Already in Maine, the Recovery Act has helped to create 3,400 jobs in these areas, while improving our roads, bridges and making our water cleaner and safer.

I know some critics have knocked the Recovery Act. They say it didn’t do enough and didn’t do it fast enough.

But if you ask the men and women who went to work beginning this summer, they will tell you it was a success.

Time and again, Maine has been recognized as a leader in implementing the Recovery Act.

And on Dec. 3, Congress’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranked Maine first in the nation for the speed and efficiency of its use of Recovery Act dollars.

In addition to the jobs created, untold thousands were saved because of increased federal support.

It was a priority of my administration to put people to work as quickly as possible.

The president also talked Tuesday about the need to keep in place important safety net provisions that are directly related to helping families hurt by the recession.

While it’s critical that the economy begin to create jobs more quickly, we also have to recognize that recovery will take time.

During the transition, the federal government needs to continue its support for the unemployed and for families struggling to keep health insurance.

These programs directly help people who have fallen on hard times. We shouldn’t leave them behind.

Finally, the president talked about extending assistance to State and local governments.

In Maine, I am working right now on budget revisions that will close an anticipated gap of about $400 million dollars in the State’s two-year budget.

I am making the difficult decisions necessary to keep our budget balanced, as required by State law and the Constitution.

But I am also asking that Washington recognize the plight of the States.

This week, I sent a letter to the White House and Maine’s Congressional Delegation asking that the increased support for Medicaid included in the Recovery Act be extended for at least six months.

With increased demands and diminishing State resources, people are at risk of losing their health care coverage without greater federal support.

I have talked with the Vice President and with the President’s economic team. I’ve told them state assistance should be part of any jobs plan.

We know that at least 34 states are facing significant mid-year budget cuts because the economy is still struggling.

If State and local economies are allowed to collapse, there can be no national recovery.

So as I finalize my budget revisions, my goal will be to minimize layoffs and to protect important areas such as public health, public safety, education and job creation.

While we need a strong partnership with the federal government, Maine will do what’s necessary to maintain a balanced budget and to spur economic recovery.

I will not support a tax increase during this recession that would only add to the burden on families and businesses.

And we will be holding our own jobs forum in January.

We will bring the best thinkers in the public and private sectors together to identify those steps we can take locally to promote job growth.

We’ll build on the ideas from the Presidents Jobs Forum earlier this month.

And we’ll highlight the resources that are already available to help businesses grow.

We need to work cooperatively with Washington to help private businesses be successful.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

Job Creation

Budget Revisions

December 19, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Friday, I released my plans for closing a $438 million dollar budget gap created by declining revenues.

As we approach the holiday season, the details of our country’s economic plight are front and center.

And the impact goes beyond the numbers and the bar graphs we’ve all been accustomed to.

Unemployment and economic uncertainty are taking an increasing toll on our economy and on our families.

It has devastated people looking for work, and hangs like a dark cloud over people who are working.

This national recession has been the longest and most severe since the Great Depression, and we all feel it.

Since just last year, Maine’s revenues have been re-forecast down by $1.1 billion dollars.

As I worked on developing a plan to close the gap, I considered a list of priorities that would help guide my decision making.

My plan would work to lessen the impact as much as possible on education, public safety and health, and our most vulnerable citizens.

Given that education and health and human services account for about 80 percent of the General Fund budget, there are no ways around those areas to avoid serious reductions.

But I sought to reduce the impacts and give communities greater flexibility to reduce their costs and to focus their resources on the classroom where they do the most good.

I wish I could say we have eliminated all the hardships in this budget, but we’ve not.

There are difficult cuts, and we’ll have to continue our efforts to make government leaner and more efficient.

I also wanted to avoid including things in the budget that could unnecessarily hurt job creation or hamper economic recovery.

My plan does not increase taxes, fees or fines. I do not believe that working families and businesses can afford a greater burden.

I’ve always said that a good job is the best social service program, and the family is the best social service agency.

I have tried to find a path forward through these challenging times that protects both.

Earlier this year, Maine passed a $5.8 billion dollar two-year budget.

It was the first time in at least 35 years that a two-year State budget was smaller than its predecessor.

With the revisions I am submitting today, that budget will fall to $5.5 billion dollars.

To put that in perspective, seven years ago my first budget was about $5.4 billion dollars.

During that same time, we have increased funding for education by hundreds of millions of dollars – even though we have seen student enrollment drop by about 21,000.

We have restrained the rest of State government.

With all of my proposed revisions, education spending now accounts for more than half of the General Fund dollars.

Health and Humans Services is about 28.6 percent.

And the rest of State government is 20.9 percent.

Our priority remains our State’s children, our neighbors who need help, public health and safety.

But we have no choice. We must reduce State spending further.

My budget revisions include cuts across all agencies and departments in State government.

It reduces municipal revenue sharing, makes changes in provider rates, and adds three additional government shutdown days – taking the total to one per month.

The budget revisions contain a roadmap forward to achieve efficiencies through greater cooperation and consolidation of natural resource agencies.

It realigns the Department of Economic and Community Development and streamlines the delivery of Child Development Services in the Department of Education.

It reduces the number of bureaus within the Department of Agriculture from four to three.

The plan seeks new efficiencies in regional service delivery in the Department of Transportation.

And it includes an internal consolidation within DHHS to better utilize medical staff within the mental health program.

So while my budget contains many difficult cuts in spending, I have also used several one-time tools to reduce the impact of closing this $438 million budget gap.

In addition, I have proposed significant ongoing budget reductions that will begin saving money now and save even more in the future.

We are close to the bone. These one-time tools are a better alternative than additional, painful cuts.

My budget proposal includes those hard choices and requires shared sacrifice.

It’s a road we have been down before.

But we have never lost sight of our core values.

And we won’t lose sight of them now.

And when our economy begins to escape the shackles of this recession, we will be better positioned for recovery.

We will have a leaner, more efficient government built upon a foundation of fiscal responsibility.

The days and weeks ahead will be difficult.

But I know that if we are able to put aside partisanship, as we have been able to do in the past, and focus on the job at hand, we will be able to do the work we were elected to do.

Thank you and have a nice weekend.

Related Documents

Budget Revisions

Christmas Message

December 26, 2009

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

The rushing around is over. The presents are unwrapped. And the boxes are emptied.

The anticipation of Christmas has passed, and we are beginning to look forward to the turning of the clock and the dawn of a New Year.

For many people, this year has felt a little different.

There’s a great deal anxiety and stress.

Over the economy.

War.

The uncertainty of the times.

But the cheer and goodwill of the holiday season always prevail.

We come together as a people, as a state, and as a nation in the common wish for peace.

While our desire today seems out of reach, we do not wish it in vain.

It is the struggle for peace and an undying hope that one day it will be possible.

It doesn’t make us naÔve or blind to the cruelty and evil in the world.

Instead, it’s an ode to the better qualities of human nature, that despite difficulties and hardships and full knowledge of the impossible, we reach and persevere and work for a better day that we know is coming.

This time of the year, I’m reminded of a famous short story by William Sydney Porter, who was better known by his pen name of O. Henry.

He had a talent for telling stories and a twist for endings.

One of his most famous is “The Gift of the Magi.”

In the story, a young couple – Jim and Della – are struggling to get by.

They’re poor and nearly destitute, but desperately in love.

Della, determined to find the perfect gift for her husband, sells her beautiful hair – her prized possession – so she can buy Jim a chain to go with the pocket watch that once belong to his father.

Jim equally determined sets out to buy Della a set of combs for her hair. But the only thing of value he has is his father’s watch, which he sells to buy Della’s combs.

On Christmas, the young couple exchanged their gifts, each having sacrificed for the other and learning only then about the trade they had both made.

It’s not a sad story, at least not to me. The joy in the gifts was not the receiving, but the giving.

As Porter wrote, “But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest.”

All around us this holiday season, we see the spirit of those who give of themselves for others.

Like Tom and Kate Chappell who donated clothes from their business to help Maine families.

Or Stephen and Tabby King, who helped to make sure members of the Maine National Guard preparing to deploy to war could be home for the holidays.

Or Dr. Dora Mills, who through happenstance received a call at 6:10 in the morning from a women suffering a rare and chronic blood disorder and receiving chemotherapy. The caller needed information about the flu vaccine.

As you know, Dr. Mills is the Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and the State’s expert on H1N1 flu.

The woman wrote to my office, she said: “This wonderful, wonderful lady took my call, she said she had a few minutes before she needed to get her children to school and wanted to know how she could help.”

The writer continued: “My husband and I went to the Buker Community Center and [were] met at the door by Dr. Mills herself. … She gave each of us a big hug and thanked us for being there. We were blown away.”

In countless ways, big and small, Mainers look out for one another.

I am proud to live in a State where the people give of themselves so freely, and take that extra step to extend a helping hand to others.

Thank you for listening on this holiday weekend. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy New Year.

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State Government to Open on Two-Hour Delay in Aroostook

December 23, 2009

State Government to Open on Two-Hour Delay in Aroostook

AUGUSTA – Due to heavy snow, Maine State Government will open on a two-hour delay today, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009, in Aroostook County. The delayed opening is for Aroostook County only.

New Year

January 2, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

The Legislature returns to Augusta this week, and there’s much work to be done in just a few short months.

My top priority for the Legislative session remains the State budget and the economy.

Through the budget process, which includes extensive review and deliberation by the Legislature, we establish our priorities as a State.

I have put forward my proposal for bringing the State budget into balance, while protecting education, public health and safety, and the economy.

I’ve used a combination of spending cuts, reorganizations to make government more efficient, and one-time tools to close a budget gap of $438 million dollars.

We have made many tough decisions, and this budget will create hardships. We’ll all be called upon to make sacrifices.

But it also protects the people who need our help the most, maintains core government functions and does it without raising taxes, fees or fines.

I know that there are some people who believe higher taxes are the answer to our current budget dilemma. I don’t question their motives or their commitment to our State.

But I believe they are wrong.

Working families are struggling under the same global recession that has caused State revenues to fall far short of predictions.

High unemployment and the fear of job loss add to the stress that families already feel.

Uncertainty about the economy leaves many businesses reluctant to invest and to create new jobs.

New taxes will only add to that uncertainty for businesses and create more stress for working families.

I think that’s the wrong policy and the wrong message.

Maine needs policies that encourage work and investment, which is why I supported tax reform last year.

That law, which will be on the ballot in June, lowers the State’s income tax rates, while making the system more favorable for working men and women.

It also exports about $50 million dollars of Maine’s tax burden onto tourists, which means real relief for people who live and work here.

While some folks are advocating that we raise taxes, others are saying that my budget proposal doesn’t include enough cuts.

My budget proposal strikes a careful balance between cuts in support for critical government programs, the demand for more efficiency and the use of one-time measures to achieve savings.

I am convinced that we can streamline government more and make it more efficient.

I am proposing additional restructuring within the Natural Resources agencies, Economic and Community Development, the Department of Education, transportation, and health and human services that will save money and improve service delivery.

I know it will work because we’ve done it before with school district administration reform and our new unified corrections system.

We are saving property taxpayers millions of dollars by eliminating duplication and unnecessary administration in corrections.

No one will accuse this administration of being shy about making touch decisions.

In the last seven years, we have reduced the size of State government by 1,000 positions.

We have held spending flat, while at the same time increasing support for education by $352 million.

And we have kept taxes in check.

For our efforts, the Tax Foundation says Maine’s business climate has improved and the Wall Street Journal has touted the Maine Miracle.

But I also know that there are limits to what we can achieve in efficiencies and spending reductions between now and June 30th, which is the end of the fiscal year.

Maine’s Constitution requires a balanced budget and the clock is working against us for this year.

While I have proposed significant ongoing savings in my budget proposal, we are also using one-time tools for short-term savings.

Again, it’s about finding the right balance.

My proposal is the starting point. Now, the Legislature will have its opportunity to examine my ideas and suggest their own.

At the end of the process, it’s my hope that we find a strong, bipartisan solution.

As I look around Maine and the country, I see signs that the economy is beginning to awake.

But nothing is certain, and we must do the hard work now that will position Maine for recovery when it comes.

That is the task we have before us.

Thank you and have a good weekend and a Happy New Year.

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Investing in Energy Efficiency

January 9, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

After oil prices peaked at more than $140 dollars per barrel, contributing to a global economic recession, it became clear to most people that things had to change.

We’ve seen high energy prices hurt our economy before. It started in the 1970s and the pattern has continued.

I can remember being in Bangor when oil shortages forced rationing and people had to wait in line for gasoline.

When I talk to businesses, the high cost of energy and transportation, which is energy related, are constant themes.

Business owners tell me that they can cut their costs, create jobs and improve the environment. . . . They just need a little help.

This week in conjunction with the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Efficiency Maine and the Energy and Carbon Savings Trust, Maine announced $8.9 million dollars worth of grants to Maine businesses.

The grants, which will leverage about $81 million dollars in private investments, will help to fund important energy improvements around the State of Maine.

With support from the federal Recovery Act, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates more than 950 jobs will be created.

And companies that currently employ 7,000 Maine workers will receive help in becoming more energy efficient.

That means real savings that can be re-invested here in Maine.

The projects are focused on Maine’s industrial sector and are spread around the State.

One good example is Verso Paper in Bucksport. Verso received a grant for $2 million dollars. This one project will convert the energy systems inside the mill and save roughly 5,000 gallons of oil a day.

Impressive by any standards, this investment will protect current jobs, create new ones and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Another good example is Tex Tech Industries in Monmouth. With a grant of $1.6 million dollars, this company will be able to reduce its operating costs, making it more competitive with its rivals overseas.

On Wednesday, the company told us that the grant will save 45 to 50 jobs that would otherwise have been moved out of the country.

That’s good news for those families, for those communities and for our State.

There are stories around the State: in South Portland, Madawaska, Hartland, Old Town and Brunswick.

The 16 projects are ready go, and the grants will put people to work almost immediately.

But even more importantly, they will help to create and protect Maine jobs for years to come.

We know that we have to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

Just take a look around the world at what’s going on.

In places like Iraq, Yemen and Saudi Arabian Peninsula, the struggle to secure oil forces our country into terrible decisions.

Whether you believe in global warming or not, reducing our dependency on foreign oil should be a question of national security.

If we can build renewable energy resources here in Maine, we will keep billions of dollars here at home – creating jobs and new investments – and out of the hands of people who would target our country.

But to reduce our dependency on oil requires a conscience and consistent effort.

It’s why I support developing Maine’s natural resources and renewable energy opportunities – whether its wind, water, wood or solar power.

And it’s why we remain focused on conservation and reducing our dependency for energy.

Maine is leading the way toward a new energy future.

Our success is built on innovative leadership and public-private partnerships.

Last year, the Legislature passed my comprehensive energy package, An Act Regarding Maine's Energy Future.

The law established the goal to weatherize all residences and 50 percent of businesses by 2030 and reduce the State’s consumption of liquid fossil fuels by at least 30 percent by 2030.

We have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy for our conservation and weatherization efforts.

Reshaping Maine’s energy future won’t be easy.

But it is critical for our State.

We can no longer allow our economy to be dictated by the price of oil produced in hostile foreign lands.

We have the resources, the people and the commitment to set our own energy course.

Now, there will be naysayers and critics and people who seek political gain by resisting change.

But we have in front of us great opportunities to put people to work and break our dependency on oil.

We must: For our economy, for good jobs, for a cleaner environment and for national security.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Investing in Energy Efficiency

State Agencies Closed Friday, Jan. 15

January 14, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today reminded the public that many Maine State government offices are closed on Friday, Jan. 15, 2010, as a cost saving initiative for the Fiscal Year 2010-2011 Biennial State Budget.

“Please plan ahead for any services you may need from State agencies during this and the other State government shutdown days,” said Governor Baldacci. “When scheduling the days, every effort has been made to reduce the impact to Maine people, businesses and communities.”

The public is encouraged to check with a specific agency before seeking State services on Friday, Jan. 15, 2010.

The reference to the State closures is Public Law 2009, Chap. 213, Part SSS: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_124th/chapters/PUBLIC213-PtCtoEnd.asp

This is the sixth of 10 closure days between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010. The other dates that State agencies and offices will be closed are as follows:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 Friday, March 12, 2010 Tuesday, April 20, 2010 Friday, May 28, 2010

Finding Balance

January 16, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee finished the public hearings on my proposal to close a $438 million dollar gap in the State’s current budget.

Hundreds of Mainers traveled from across the State to Augusta to have their voices heard.

Many of them told compelling, personal stories about how State government touches their lives, the good work that it does.

Especially in the area of human services, we heard how the State helps people to live independently, to rebuild their lives after tragedy, to survive hardship and disease.

I’ll continue to do everything we can to maintain life-sustaining services.

We also heard from towns and cities that said they could withstand no funding reductions.

From school district administrators.

And from folks who oppose the consolidation of the State’s natural resources agencies.

In a perfect world, no need would go unmet and no worthy program unfunded.

But we do not live in a perfect world.

We’re all trying to come out of this global recession.

And I have a constitutional and statutory obligation to balance the State budget.

That means making tough choices.

Maine – likely virtually every other State – has been hurt by the worst recession since the Great Depression.

In the last 12 months, projected revenues for the State have declined by $1.1 billion dollars.

There is simply no way for the State to absorb that loss without impacting people and their communities.

Almost 46 cents out of every dollar that comes to the State’s General Fund is returned to municipal and county governments.

During the last seven years, my administration has been aggressive about cutting the size of State government.

We’ve eliminated 1,000 positions, about 8.8 percent of the State’s workforce.

State workers have taken shutdown days, lost pay raises and are now required to pay a portion of their health care.

We’ve combined State agencies and departments, school administrations, and county and State prisons.

And we are continuing our efforts to find efficiencies and to reshape government at all levels to be less expensive.

You know folks, it’s been studied and studied, from the Productivity Task Force, the Brookings Report, the McKinsey Report.

We know what needs to be done. We just need to do it and do it now.

I am convinced that government at all levels can operate more efficiently, that administrative costs can be reduced through greater cooperation.

And I am equally confident that service providers can do their very important work with less administration, better cooperation and greater efficiency.

We’ve seen it work with the Board of Corrections and with School Administrative Districts.

Every dollar that we save from reduced administration means more resources for direct services – those places where the money does the most good.

I have proposed one-time tools to help reduce the impact of revenue declines on education, health care, public safety and job creation.

What I haven’t done – and I don’t support – is raising taxes.

Economists are telling us that the recession is slowly ending, but that job creation will lag.

Even though Maine’s unemployment rate is better than the national average, we must be cautious about any action that could hurt recovery.

Working Maine families and businesses can’t afford higher sales or income taxes.

We have to balance protecting core government functions and the need to safeguard our economy.

It’s no easy task, but it is the job we have before us.

The Legislature’s committees are working hard to make improvements to the proposal I submitted to balance the current State budget.

There are long days and long nights ahead, and I am committed to working with the Legislature to find a bipartisan answer.

We’ll have to change our ways, be innovative and creative, and do things differently.

But we will get there.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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State of the State Recap

January 23, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, I delivered the State of the State Address to a Joint Session of the Maine Legislature.

It’s an opportunity for our State to make a frank assessment of where we are and where we want to be.

I can not remember a time that has presented Maine with such hard choices and such great opportunities.

It’s a bit of a contradiction – to talk about economic hardship and opportunity in the same breath.

But that’s the situation we face today.

In the last 12 months, State revenues have fallen by $1.1 billion dollars. Unemployment has topped 8 percent; housing and businesses are struggling; and people are uncertain and anxious.

It’s a time of great turmoil.

But it’s also a time of incredible opportunity and revolutionary change.

A time when our State is breaking with the comfortable patterns of the past to blaze a brave new trail.

We have come together to say enough, to put our foot down and to put an end to the circumstances that have held our people and our economy hostage.

Today, we are laying the groundwork for economic revitalization and freedom from the tyranny of foreign oil.

Are we there yet? No.

But we are on the way.

Despite the difficulties we face, the hard choices and hard work ahead, the next chapter in Maine’s history will be one of resurgence, growth and opportunity.

Because I know beyond question or doubt that the people of this State – our greatest resource – can persevere and overcome any challenge.

I see a Maine that is energy secure, with highly educated and successful people.

Natural resources that are protected, accessible and put to work.

A place where innovation and creativity prevail.

And cities, towns and villages draw people from around the world to a quality of life unmatched.

We are in the midst of unprecedented times.

The choices we make will help to determine which way Maine goes.

On Thursday, I laid out an aggressive agenda that will help move Maine toward sustained prosperity.

It starts with a plan to balance the State budget without raising taxes.

There should be no illusions.

There are no easy answers.

We must balance core government functions while protecting the vulnerable and safeguarding our economy.

But we shouldn’t take any action that will jeopardize recovery.

The best way to help all Maine people is to promote job growth and economic recovery.

We can’t tax our way out of our problems, but we can grow our way out.

As former President Kennedy had said: “A rising tide lifts all ships.”

While we still have a long way to go, there are signs that things are beginning to turn around.

Last year on the day before the State of the State, I visited to Domtar in Washington County. The plant had just announced that it was indefinitely closing.

I’m happy to say that today, 300 workers are back on the job and the owners of the company are committed to finding a business model that will work.

Maine is ready to help. We want to keep those men and women working.

My agenda is built around job creation and job protection, and it begins with our people and our natural resources.

Right now, Maine is leading New England in onshore wind power generation.

And every day this important sector is growing.

Producing renewable and safe electricity.

But we have only begun to tap the potential for wind.

Work going on today by Habib Dagher at the University of Maine, with private-sector partners and critical support from the federal government, is positioning our State at the forefront of a new energy revolution.

We have it within our power to develop new, cutting edge sources of energy that can help to forever reshape the world.

In the coming weeks, I will submit legislation to continue our aggressive pursuit of offshore wind energy.

The plan, which is the result of my Ocean Energy Task Force, will help to spark this new industry and confirm Maine’s leadership role.

The project has earned nearly $25 million dollars in competitive grants and is in line for additional federal support.

Maine competed nationally and was one of just 12 sites in the entire country that has received this support to construct an offshore wind laboratory.

The plan has tremendous potential to create thousands of jobs in Maine and attract billions of dollars worth of investment.

Permitted and approved wind power development in Maine already represents more than $1 billion dollars of capital investment in our economy.

We face hurdles and hardships, but we are not afraid to make decisions, to break new ground and to build. To set the bar high.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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State of the State Recap

Passenger Rail to Brunswick

January 30, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, President Obama announced that Maine has been awarded $35 million dollars to expand the Downeaster passenger rail service north from Portland to Brunswick.

The award will create hundreds of jobs, generating millions of dollars in economic development along the line.

Passengers will be able to visit Brunswick and Freeport, two of Maine’s most popular destinations.

And the service will help support our efforts to redevelopment the Midcoast region in the wake of the closing of the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

The grant is part of an $8 billion dollar program included in the federal Recovery Act to expand rail service throughout the country.

It’s an important investment in our future that will pay off for Maine.

The Downeaster has carried 2.7 million passengers and taken 224 million passenger-miles off highways, which mean roads are less congested and our air is cleaner.

The service has been operating between Boston and Portland since 2001 and is one of Amtrak’s most successful lines in the nation.

By extending service to Freeport and Brunswick, ridership will continue to grow, and more communities will be served.

More than 28 miles of track will be replaced. 30,000 ties will be laid and 36 crossings will be improved.

What do those numbers mean? People will be put to work almost immediately.

Businesses will grow. Tourism will expand. And communities will be better connected.

The project can be completed in two construction seasons, which means passengers could be able to travel from Freeport and Brunswick to Portland and Boston by as early as 2012.

But the impact of this investment doesn’t stop in those communities.

The rail improvements also provide a necessary link to the further expansion of passenger rail to Lewiston-Auburn and then, eventually, on to Montreal.

Communities throughout Maine will be connected to a national rail network, making it easier and more efficient to travel.

The expansion will be managed by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which has experience developing significant rail projects.

For nearly 20 years, we have been working to revitalize passenger rail service in Northern New England.

A coalition of advocates including TrainRiders/Northeast, business and community leaders has worked to build support and create a plan to integrate passenger rail into their communities.

And Intercity Passenger Rail service has been a long-term goal for our State and my administration.

In 2006, I issued an Executive Order reaffirming support for completing the Downeaster.

And in 2008, the Legislature passed and I signed the “Rail Improvement Act” to provide funding to sustain Downeaster operations and complete service to Brunswick.

Maine, time and again, has shown its commitment to rail.

We have developed public-private partnerships to open freight rail services to industry.

We have supported the Downeaster.

Protected rail lines and right-a-ways.

And done the work to prepare for quick action.

Our economy is stronger when both passengers and shippers have more transportation options.

We know that rail is good for the environment. But it’s also critical for our economy and for connecting our communities together.

The plans are ready. The agreements have been made. And we’re ready to put this important grant to work – creating jobs and new economic development now.

This award would not have been possible without President Obama, Vice President Biden, Sen. Snowe, Sen. Collins, Rep. Pingree and Rep. Michaud and the passage of the Recovery Act.

As the six New England states agreed last July, the Downeaster is a national model for the successful introduction of new intercity passenger rail service.

With the expansion of the service north, the success of the Downeaster will grow, bringing our communities closer together and increasing opportunity for our people.

It’s job creation today and for the long run and a good investment for our people and our economy.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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President Obama and Energy

February 6, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, I joined 10 other governors from across the country to meet with President Obama and key members of his Administration focused on changing our nation’s energy future.

Maine can be proud that we are leading the way and becoming a model in aggressively pursuing clean, renewable energy production.

Already, Maine is home to 95 percent of the operating on-shore wind capacity in New England.

And with businesses like Old Town Fuel and Fiber, we are developing new technologies that can help reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

A core component of the Old Town Fuel & Fiber operation is using technology developed at the University of Maine to create biofuels, which are renewable energy resources from our forest products.

What this means to Maine is that we can produce energy here in our State – making our country more secure and keeping our energy dollars working here at home.

Maine is THE most dependent state in the country on foreign oil.

Many of the homes are not energy efficient and rely on oil for heat.

On top of that, as a rural state, most of us rely on our cars to get to work, to go to the grocery store and to go about our lives.

We rely upon oil too much.

Billions of dollars earned by hard-working Maine families leave our state and country to support foreign countries and sometimes hostile governments.

And relying on fossil fuels jeopardizes our environment and the way of life we enjoy.

Energy independence means using our abundant natural resources in a way that reduces pollution and grows good-paying jobs.

This is about financial, environmental and national security.

Here in Maine we have been investing in renewable energy, promoting energy efficiency, and working with private partners to ramp up our ability to compete for green jobs and industries.

It’s no surprise, then, that Maine has been recognized by the Obama Administration for its leadership.

At the White House on Wednesday, I pressed the Administration on a number of energy issues important to Maine.

This wasn’t the first time we’ve had the ear of the President on energy.

I first approached then President-elect Obama at a meeting he hosted with the nation’s governors late in 2008.

I told him then that Maine is eager to lead the way to a more stable and secure energy supply.

This week, I was pleased to tell the President about the aggressive steps we have taken in Maine to show what is possible, and to provide insights on steps the federal government could take to help Maine continue our way to energy independence.

This includes establishing in law the goal to weatherize all residences and 50 percent of businesses by 2030.

Efficiency Maine has developed new incentives to support Maine residents and businesses seeking to become more energy efficient.

Significant additional federal funds may be available to the State to accelerate Maine’s weatherization program and to stimulate clean energy projects here.

I also approached the President to support regional energy approaches, and I was heartened to hear his commitment to each region of the country using its strengths to develop clean energy.

Maine has particular strengths to be a leader in biofuel and wind energy generation.

We have a favorable geography and natural resources, broad-based support, including public-private partnerships, and the technological and workforce strengths that the State has tirelessly built.

A broad mix of renewable energy sources is necessary to provide secure energy supplies and jobs. So I’m pleased that the President is looking favorably to supporting biofuels as well as wind.

The President listened and he has vowed to be a partner with the states as we seek energy independence.

This is important, because energy security and the job growth it supports are long-term goals requiring sustained partnerships between the federal and state governments as well as the private sector.

Together, we can realize this bold vision of producing renewable energy that will benefit Maine now and for generations to come.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Job Creation

February 13, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, in cooperation with the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, I attended the Governor’s Job Summit.

The event brought together representatives from more than 75 of Maine’s leading businesses for an open and honest discussion about the economy and about how best to create jobs.

Maine’s unemployment rate is about 8 percent, better than the national average of about 10 percent, but still too high.

The focus of the Summit was to hear from businesses about how they have been able to protect and grow jobs.

Even during this difficult economic time, these businesses have been successful and, in some cases even growing.

There is no single answer to creating jobs.

But we did hear common themes and discussed ideas about how many can improve its business climate.

During the summit, business leaders broke into smaller groups with a moderator, representatives from my administration, State lawmakers and federal partners.

They covered a lot of topics and the work they did will help Maine tailor its efforts to help companies create jobs.

In some areas, Maine is doing well.

We heard that our efforts to help business improve energy efficiency are paying real dividends.

The programs we have in place, particularly those through EfficiencyMaine, are creating and saving jobs right now.

But we must keep working toward greater energy independence and grow our renewable energy industries.

We also heard from businesses that they need stability and predictability in State programs.

They also need simple access for economic development programs and a clear process for obtaining permits.

We are already working to make it easier for companies to get information and navigate the rules.

I have proposed a new structure for Maine’s Department of Economic Development that will streamline outreach, make it easier for companies to receive assistance and reduce duplication.

Maine has good economic tools and experts available, and we can do better using them to help businesses create jobs.

I also heard on Tuesday that Maine needs effective transportation to move goods within our State and beyond.

This has been a focus of my administration for seven years, and recently we’ve made significant progress.

With critical federal support, we will be expanding passenger rail service north of Portland to Freeport and Brunswick.

While the additional passenger service will be a boost to tourism, reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and help Maine’s Midcoast region recover from the closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station, the expansion does much more.

It will improve freight rail in our State and is a necessary step in improving service to Auburn and Lewiston.

We are also working through the Maine Department of Transportation to ensure that we have continued rail service in Northern Maine.

The rail line that serves northern Maine, from Millinocket to Madawaska, Houlton and Presque Isle is facing serious difficulties.

My administration is working hard to ensure that industries in the region and those communities stay connected.

If we want businesses to invest in job creation, we must have a skilled and educated workforce.

I was particular impressed with the ideas I heard on this topic.

Business leaders at the summit told me that they know they have to part of the solution for a better education system.

There are great opportunities for companies to develop partnerships with high schools, colleges and universities.

To build connections and become mentors.

And to help students to build aspirations and nurture ambition.

Maine is blessed with many successful, growing and innovative companies.

They are doing amazing and inspiring work.

By partnering with schools, they can help introduce our students to the world of possibilities that exist while at the same time helping to develop the workforce that we need for a modern economy.

During the last two months, we have seen signs that Maine’s economy is beginning to turn around.

But the recovery remains fragile, and job creation is lagging behind.

In December, I presented plans to close a $438 million dollar gap in the State budget.

My plans include many difficult choices, including major reductions in State spending.

While we have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable, we must also strike a careful balance to make sure government takes no action that could threaten economic recovery.

It’s a hard line to walk, but I don’t believe Maine’s families and businesses can afford higher taxes.

As I work with the Legislature to close the budget gap, I am committed to doing what’s necessary to safeguard our economy and put us in the strongest position for economic recovery.

I want thank the many business and community leaders, including the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, for their valuable insights during the Governor’s Job Summit.

We will continue to work with Dana Connors and the Chamber and other businesses to improve Maine’s business climate and to create new jobs.

Thank you for listening and have a good holiday weekend.

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SPOILER ALERT: Governor Baldacci Congratulates Gold Medal Winner

February 15, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today congratulated Mainer Seth Wescott for his Olympic gold medal in the snowboard cross. This is Wescott’s second gold medal in the event.

“All of Maine is proud of Seth,” Governor Baldacci said. “For the second time, he has proven that he is the best in the world at snowboard cross. Seth helped to introduce the world to his sport in Turin, and the race this year was a thriller from start to finish. But we’re proud of Seth for more than his gold-medal performance. He’s active in his community and sets a high standard for the way he conducts his life.”

Wescott won the gold medal during the snowboard cross in Vancouver. The race will be broadcast on NBC later tonight.

Governor Baldacci also wished all of Maine's Olympic athletes well.

"Our state is well represented in these Olympic Games, and we wish all the competitors the best as they compete on the world's biggest athletic stage."

Race to the Top

February 20, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, I submitted legislation that will improve Maine’s bid for $75 million federal dollars for education reform in Maine.

These funds are part of an initiative called Race to the Top, which aims to make bold reforms to education across the country.

To be successful in our application, Maine must demonstrate its commitment to improved K-12 education.

Maine has long been recognized for taking bold initiatives to improve education, and I am confident that Maine will be a strong contender in the competition for Race to the Top funds.

Our State leads the way in the use of technology, and has been innovative by using the SAT test for 11th-grade students.

By using the test as part of the state assessments, we introduce students to the possibility of higher education and help prepare them for learning after high school.

The number of high school students enrolling in college courses as juniors and seniors through the Aspirations Incentive Program has more than tripled since I took office seven years ago.

This past year Maine joined New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island to administer a common test based on common standards for grades 3 through 8 in reading, writing and mathematics. And our students are performing well.

And a growing number of Maine students are taking and scoring well on rigorous Advanced Placement exams, putting Maine well ahead of the national average.

Our educational leadership in Maine is outstanding.

Maine’s Education Commissioner Sue Gendron is now on the national stage as the president of the association that represents the education commissioners in all 50 states, and closely involved in the formation of new national standards and assessments, and at the forefront of several other national and regional projects.

One of the places we have seen expanded educational programming this past year has been in the school districts that reorganized to be more efficient.

RSU 1 in the Bath area they have implemented universal pre-kindergarten, added more AP courses and enhanced their Gifted and Talented program – all while saving more than $1 million per year.

In Regional School Unit 24, which includes Ellsworth and 11 surrounding communities, they have been able to save programs like guidance, music and art, and Advanced Placement that would otherwise have been on the chopping block.

Reorganization is working.

Last week, the Education Committee working with my administration agreed unanimously to some modest changes in the law.

The minor changes will add flexibility so that well-intentioned small school districts that have had difficulty reorganizing can move forward.

The agreement recognizes that under special and unique circumstances some districts might need a little more help to successfully reorganize. Commissioner Gendron will have more leeway to approve reorganization plans.

Nobody gets exempted. That’s not fair to taxpayers and it’s not fair to our students.

We’re doing great things in education in Maine.

But we must do more.

If we want to be successful in the federal Race to the Top program, we need to make improvements.

The legislation I am submitting will do three things:

First, it will allow Maine to adopt new national Common Standards. But we will do that only if they meet our already-high expectations.

We’re not going to lower our standards.

Common Standards will help us to identify those areas where we excel and those areas that need improvement.

The standards will allow us once and for all to see where we are excelling and share our experience with others. And we will see where we come up short, and we will seek guidance and examples so that we can improve in those areas.

Next, we will allow school districts to link data on student performance to teachers.

This allows us to use real data as ONE way to measure the effectiveness of teachers, recognizing those who are doing a great job and helping those who need help to improve.

Finally, I am submitting legislation that will allow and encourage innovative public schools.

They will have the same flexibility of a charter school, but with the accountability of public schools, including all certified teachers.

These schools – created only by school boards that want them – will have flexibility in instruction design, staff selection, school calendars and assessments of professional development.

So when federal reviewers look at Maine’s application for funds, we know they will see a state that has already been successful and that is eager to innovate and improve.

Thanks for listening and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Race to the Top

Governor Baldacci Supports EPA Efforts to Fight Greenhouse Gas Emissions

February 22, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Governor John E. Baldacci today released the following statement strongly supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act can cover greenhouse gas emissions. Maine had joined California and a number of other states in suing the EPA to overturn the refusal of the Bush Administration to regulate greenhouse gases. EPA is now following the law.

“Efforts to undermine the EPA’s efforts are a direct contradiction of the law and a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Governor Baldacci said. “Absent comprehensive federal legislation, the current approach is the best tool the EPA has to protect our economy and the health of our people from the harmful effects of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.”

Governor Signs Emergency Declaration to Speed Power Restoration

February 25, 2010

AUGUSTA -- Governor John E. Baldacci tonight issued a Declaration of Emergency that will facilitate power crews traveling into Maine to help restore electricity service knocked out by a severe winter storm.

The Emergency Declaration was issued at 6:25 p.m. to extend the hours of service for power crews to expedite power restoration for household and businesses currently without electricity.

“We are expecting high winds and heavy, wet snow in much of the State,” Governor Baldacci said. “By issuing this order, we will help restore power more quickly and be better prepared for expected additional outages.”

As of early afternoon today, approximately 3,800 customers, mostly in Farmington, Brunswick and Skowhegan services areas of CMP were without power. The Maine Emergency Management Agency expects those numbers to increase throughout the evening as storm conditions become more severe.

The text of the Emergency Declaration follows: WHEREAS, the State of Maine is experiencing a severe winter storm that has left thousands of Maine homes and businesses out of power; and

WHEREAS, work crews will have to work many hours to restore power; and WHEREAS, power restoration crews may be requested from other states and potentially from Canadian provinces to assist in power restoration; and

WHEREAS, federal rules determine the number of hours the driver of an electrical line repair vehicle may operate; and

WHEREAS, drivers of such vehicles must cease operations when they reach the federal limit on hours of operation, and therefore would have to cease power restoration; and

WHEREAS, these conditions threaten public health and safety and endanger public property if power cannot be restored to Maine homes and businesses; and

WHEREAS, the declaration of a State of Emergency will facilitate the granting of a waiver from the U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, pursuant to 49 CFR part 390.23 to allow relief from 49 CFR parts 390 through 399 subject to the limitations described below, and therefore allow these utility service vehicles to operate additional hours and otherwise operate effectively in this situation,

WHEREAS, utility service vehicles that have an Out-Of-Service Order in effect may not take advantage of the relief from regulation that this declaration provides under 49 CFR 390.23

NOW THEREFORE, I, John Elias Baldacci, Governor of the State of Maine, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of Maine, find that these conditions constitute a civil emergency under 37-B M.R.S.A. section 742, and for the purpose pursuant to 49 CFR part 390.23 of facilitating a waiver to the U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Rules, specifically 49 CFR part 395 Hours of Service of Drivers, do hereby declare that a State of Emergency exists as of February 25, 2010 through March 25, 2010.

The Budget and the Economy

February 27, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Last week, we saw another positive sign that Maine’s economy is beginning to improve.

Our state’s independent revenue forecasters have seen enough improvement in the economy to slightly upgrade our financial outlook for the next year and a half.

They were cautious and conservative, and the improvement is modest – at best.

We know that our economy remains fragile and that recovery is far from certain.

In December, when I released details of my plans to close a $438 million dollar budget gap, I laid out my priorities.

We must protect and encourage economic recovery, and take no action that would jeopardize growth.

We must safeguard our core values and safety net, so the most vulnerable in our society receive the care they need.

And we must make structural changes so that our state is better prepared for economic recovery, and so that the size of government better matches available resources.

From the beginning, I have placed a high priority on finding a bipartisan and cooperative path through these troubled economic times.

With the news we received last week about improving revenues and with some other tools that are now available, I will submit revisions to my plans for closing the budget gap.

It’s critical that Maine not raise taxes or increase the burden on families and businesses. And I remain committed to this.

But I also understand that the cuts I proposed are difficult.

I have said from the beginning that if given the opportunity, we would work to mitigate the worst of the cuts in Human Services.

My revisions will look first to strengthen our support in those areas that provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week care: Nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

I will also look to restore support for mental health and crisis management.

If possible, we will also look to ease the cuts to education in K through 12 and our colleges and universities.

But even with the changes I will recommend, there will be many difficult choices in this budget.

There simply are not enough resources today – and won’t be enough in future years – to continue the status quo.

We must continue to change and adapt.

I spent part of last week in Washington meeting with the President and members of his administration.

I am convinced that we have a partner in the federal government who understands the plight of the states and the steps necessary to get our economy moving.

Despite growth in the fourth quarter and a slight improvement in the financial picture, we know that unemployment is still too high.

And the stories go beyond the numbers and statistics.

I visited with workers in Prospect Harbor. They learned that the last sardine packing facility in the country will be closing.

128 workers will lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

The reasons are complicated, and have to do with declining herring numbers in Maine’s coastal waters and federal regulations.

But what the workers know is that their jobs are ending.

My administration is committed to redeveloping that facility and finding a new owner who can put these folks back to work.

And in the meantime, we will do what we can do to provide support for the workers and their families who have lost their jobs.

It’s understandable that during this Great Recession that consumer confidence and the general mood would be dark.

But surveys tell us that people are anxious and that even those people with jobs are reluctant to spend and invest.

But when I talk to people in Maine, I’m struck by the fact that most of them remain optimistic even in the face of hardships.

They are concerned – even worried – about their jobs, their health care, and the direction of the country.

But they are not overwhelmed or overly pessimistic.

As we have before, Maine and the country will overcome the recession.

As the Legislature and I work to finish the budget, I will do everything I can to promote growth and prosperity, to help the middle class, and to prepare our economy for the future.

We’ll make the tough choices today that will translate into opportunities tomorrow.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

The Budget and the Economy

Overcoming Recession

March 6, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Because of the deepening recession and a slowing economy, I had proposed a plan to close a $438 million budget gap.

The plan included many difficult decisions and significant reductions in spending.

Since that time, my administration has worked with the Legislature to make improvements and consider alternatives.

We have an opportunity to address some of the most challenging issues that have been identified.

Over the past three months, our state’s revenue forecasters have seen positive indicators in the economy to slightly upgrade our financial outlook for the next year and a half.

They tell us we can expect revenues to increase by about $51 million dollars.

It’s a conservative estimate, and the forecasters have been very cautious.

In addition, the federal government has made an administrative change in MaineCare reimbursement.

That change translates into about $28 million dollars in resources for the State.

Even with the new resources that are available today, this budget is still very constrained.

For context, my first budget in 2004-2005 was $5.4 billion dollars;

This proposed budget seven years later, even with restorations, will be just $5.6 billion.

Despite today’s good news, we know that our economy remains fragile and that recovery is far from certain.

We must protect and encourage economic recovery, and take no action that would jeopardize growth.

We must safeguard our core values and safety net, so the most vulnerable in our society receive the care they need.

And we must make structural changes so that our State is better prepared for economic recovery, and that the size of government better matches available resources.

I have placed a high priority on finding a bipartisan and cooperative path through these troubled economic times.

From the beginning, I have been committed to presenting a fiscally responsible plan to balance the State budget.

The slight improvement in the economy and the increased assistance from the federal government will allow us to address legitimate concerns in human services and education while also making investments in Maine’s long-term fiscal health.

My plan restores $30 million dollars in health and human services, including increased support for:

• Nursing homes;

• Assisted living facilities;

• Disability services;

• Mental health crisis intervention; and

• Home-based services.

It also identifies alternatives to earlier proposals that will help bring Maine’s budget into balance.

The plan restores $20 million dollars for K-12 education in 2011.

By restoring this, we’re helping communities to be able to transition to declining revenues in the future.

Eight million dollars for the University System, Community Colleges and Maine Maritime Academy.

The plan includes a $6 million dollar restoration in municipal revenue sharing to help communities weather the recession.

Other initiatives in the budget I introduced include:

• $3.5 million dollars to reduce the State’s obligation for retiree health benefits;

• $8.1 million dollars to eliminate a proposed delay in State employee pay;

• $1.75 million dollars to fund the State’s obligation for disaster assistance to local communities.

With these proposals, I believe we can give school districts and municipalities time to adjust to declining revenues, protect our core values and the State’s economy.

I am also including a number of savings initiatives in this package that will reduce costs going forward, particularly in the Department of Health and Human Services.

We must continue our push to make government more efficient.

To that end, it is important to replace the one-time payroll delay so that the obligation isn’t passed on to the next administration.

It’s also prudent for us to pay down our obligation on retiree health and to fulfill our commitment on disaster assistance to local communities.

By addressing these obligations now, we reduce the State’s structural gap going forward.

Even with these changes I’m proposing, this is still a very difficult budget.

There are still many hard decisions that must be made.

But during this difficult economy, I will not support higher taxes.

Maine families and businesses cannot afford a greater burden.

But I do support targeted investment.

We have an opportunity to put people back to work, to create jobs and grow our economy.

My budget plan includes the finances to support the debt service on a jobs bond.

The investments will focus on those areas where we can put people to work quickly and have a lasting impact on our State.

I expect to release the details of my plan early next week.

As I work with the Legislature to finish this budget, I will do everything I can to promote growth and prosperity, to help the middle class, and prepare our economy for the future.

We’ll make the tough choices today that will translate into opportunities tomorrow.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Overcoming Recession

Governor Mourns Passing of Harold West

March 12, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today released the following statement after learning of the death of Harold West of Milbridge. West died this morning.

“Harold was a decorated war hero who came home and committed himself to his community and his State,” Governor Baldacci said. “With the love and support of his family, Harold spent a lifetime making Washington County and Maine a better place. He will be missed.”

According to the family, West will be buried on Monday, March 15. In honor of West’s service to his country and State, Governor Baldacci has ordered that the Maine flag be flown at half-staff from sun up to sun down in Milbridge on Monday.

In 2009, the former Great South Bridge over the Narraguagus River on U.S. Route 1A was renamed the Harold West Bridge.

Investing in Jobs

March 13, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

As I look at the headlines and study the economic data for Maine and the nation, I see reports that the economy is showing some signs of improvement.

Unfortunately, we’re still losing jobs.

While the rate of job loss has slowed, that’s not good enough.

In January, Maine’s unemployment rate was 8.2 percent. Up from 8.1 percent in December.

A year earlier, the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent.

Maine has almost 58,000 people who are unemployed.

I’m not satisfied with a jobless recovery that leaves too many families and businesses behind.

I believe we must do better.

To climb out of this recession, job creation and protecting our economy must be our highest priorities.

That’s why I have proposed to balance the State budget without a tax increase.

That’s why I support cutting the top income tax rate for working Mainers and small businesses.

And that’s why I am proposing a job creation investment package that will put people back to work this year.

On Wednesday, I released the details of my proposal to create jobs.

It invests $62 million dollars in highways, ports and rail lines.

I propose significant investments around the State, including resources to save rail service in Aroostook County.

Without these resources, 22 major employers and the largest county in the State would be cut off from rail service.

That is unacceptable.

Jobs are at stake, and we must act.

In addition, my plan invests in rail service in Lewiston-Auburn, connecting the good work that’s happening in Southern and Coastal Maine with rail.

I am also proposing to invest in the Ocean Gateway in Portland, to strengthen our ability to reach markets in the United States and around the world.

And to triple the number of cruise ships that visit our State.

The majority of the resources in my plan are targeted toward roads.

Drive around the State, and you’ll see the need to invest in our highways.

By doing this now, we create jobs and we build a better transportation system that will last decades.

The projects are spread around the State, and will help connect our communities and our people, strengthening our economy.

There are road projects in Farmingdale, Newport, Jay and Farmington.

Kittery, Dixfield, Bluehill and Rockport. Monmouth and Boothbay Harbor.

Around the State, our roads need improvement.

All told, the transportation portion of the investment package is projected to create more than 1,000 jobs, and protect many more.

The bond package also includes money to provide communities with clean drinking water and better sewer systems.

The $7 million dollar investment will be matched by $26 million dollars in federal resources.

This investment will put more than 870 people to work.

And it will mean communities will have safe, clean water for years to come.

My plan also invests $5 million dollars in energy efficiency to help large employers in the State save money and protect jobs.

And when we invest in energy conservation, our environment is cleaner, our companies are more competitive with overseas competition and jobs stay here in Maine.

I understand that some people are concerned about borrowing.

But now is the time to make investments in jobs, and to put people back to work quickly.

According to the bond rating agencies, Maine has a strong debt ratio and conservative borrowing practices.

As the Bangor Daily News wrote last weekend, the State “can hunker down and hope the recession ends or it can borrow to make strategic investments to create jobs, speed recovery and position the state to prosper.”

“Coupled with spending reductions, borrowing to invest is an important piece of the state’s economic plan.”

The budget I have put forward reduces government spending.

It sets priorities, protects our most vulnerable and puts Maine in a stronger position for recovery.

The bonds will help to speed that recovery by creating jobs today.

And benefits from the work that’s being done will pay dividends for generations.

It’s my hope that we can work in a bipartisan way to balance the budget and put people back to work.

We need to take action and we need to take it now.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Investing in Jobs

Budget Progress

March 20, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

As we move closer to the end of the Legislative session, I remain hopeful that we can chart a bipartisan course through the most difficult issues of the day.

Maine – like the rest of the country – has been struggling to overcome the worst recession since the Great Depression.

One of our biggest challenges has been to balance the budget during a time when State revenues are declining.

In the last 12 months, revenues for the State have declined by more than $1 billion dollars.

Late last year, I presented a plan to bring the budget into balance and to close a projected $438 million dollar gap.

Since then, our economy and our financial situation have improved, making it possible to mitigate some of the most difficult cuts, particularly in the areas of human services and education.

I have sought a path that protects the State’s most vulnerable and core government services, while also safeguarding economic growth and promoting recovery.

The work has been difficult.

Fortunately, revenues have rebounded slightly as the economy has begun to improve, and we have taken responsible actions to bring spending in line.

With work on the budget moving toward a close, I believe we must continue to reduce State spending, continue important structural reforms and protect public health and safety.

While many other States have resorted to raising taxes or draconian cuts, we have sought better solutions.

I have pushed for more efficiency and a smaller, smarter government; right sizing government to existing revenues.

I have asked providers and government agencies to find better ways to deliver important services.

And I have refused to raise taxes.

I do not believe that Maine families and businesses can afford a greater burden, especially as the effects of the recession linger on.

At the same time, I recognize that government provides a critical safety net to many of our neighbors and friends.

They depend upon the State to keep them safe. And we cannot, no matter the difficulties, turn our back on them.

Nor can we ignore our responsibility to educate our children, support higher education and keep our communities safe and clean.

It hasn’t been easy, but I believe that we are close to a solution that finds the right balance.

It will require shared sacrifice, innovation and perseverance.

But I know we can do it.

Also, the work would have been much more difficult without the continued support of Maine’s Congressional delegation: Sen. Snowe, Sen. Collins, Rep. Michaud and Rep. Pingree.

So as we approach what I hope is a bipartisan agreement on the budget here in Maine, I am reminded about what a special place this is.

While other states – and the federal government – are often locked in partisan gridlock, Maine is able to find a way forward that brings people together.

Even on those areas where the parties disagree, this session we have managed to work together for the greater good of the State.

As my administration made adjustments to our budget plans, we listened to the concerns that we heard from the public, from Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature.

This week I meet with leaders of both parties. They told me that there might still be difference on the budget, but the cooperative approach had made it more likely that we can reach consensus.

We haven’t finished the task yet.

But the experience of the past three months shows me that we can get there from here if we keep talking and working in good faith for the State’s best interest.

So while we remain short of the finish line, every day we get closer.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Budget Progress

Governor Baldacci Congratulates Appropriations Committee on Work to Balance State Budget

March 22, 2010

March 22, 2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today released the following statement after the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs completed work on the supplemental budget for fiscal years 2010-11. The plan was adopted unanimously.

“Members of the Appropriations Committee deserve enormous credit for working through a very difficult budget,” Governor Baldacci said. “The budget plan they have approved strikes the right balance. It includes important structural reform and reduced State spending, while also protecting our most vulnerable and setting Maine on the path toward economic recovery.”

“I particularly want to recognize the hard work of Senate Chairman Bill Diamond, House Chairwoman Emily Cain and Republican leads, Sen. Richard Rosen and Rep. Sawin Millett,” Governor Baldacci said. “They put aside partisanship and have worked from the first day to bring people together to balance the budget.”

“My priorities have been to bring the State budget into balance, to align spending with revenues, to make government smaller and more efficient and to avoid raising taxes while also protecting the important areas of human services and education,” Governor Baldacci said. “The bill approved by the Appropriations Committee does those things.”

The budget bill now must be approved by the full House and Senate.

President Approves Five-County Disaster Request

March 25, 2010

March 25, 2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today learned that his request that five Maine counties be declared a major disaster area was approved by President Obama.

On March 16, Governor Baldacci sent a letter requesting the declaration for Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and York counties for damage done during a severe winter storm that struck between Feb. 23 and March 2.

“Maine was hit by severe storm that brought heavy rain, snow and high winds,” Governor Baldacci said. “Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power and wind gusts broke records. Federal and State officials have already identified more than $2.3 million in damages to public infrastructure. The President’s declaration will help us to repair that damage and be better prepared for dangerous weather in the future.”

The Federal assistance will reimburse State and local governments 75 percent of the costs for emergency response efforts and to repair or replace storm-damage public property and infrastructure, including roads and bridges.

Bipartisanship and the Budget

March 27, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

When I was elected to Congress in 1994, I had a front-row seat for high stakes and heated rhetoric of a divided Washington.

Republicans were riding an electoral wave into power, and we were on the verge of a government shutdown and paralysis.

As I look to Washington today and around the country to other states, I see similar circumstances.

Democrats and Republicans are unable to work together.

In Maine, though, it’s different.

Despite the most difficult economy since the Great Depression, Democrats and Republicans have been able to put aside partisanship and work together to put Maine on the right track.

And they’ve done at a time when the odds have been stacked against them.

Every seat in the Legislature and candidates for governor will be on the ballot this fall.

State revenues have declined by more than $1 billion dollars since last year, forcing tough choices to close a budget gap.

In most places, that would be a recipe for political gamesmanship.

But not in Maine.

We have resisted temptation and found a responsible way to close a budget gap that was $438 million dollars.

Earlier this week, the Appropriations committee voted unanimously on a budget plan.

It makes important structural changes to government, which will make our State stronger in the future.

It protects the most vulnerable and maintains our core government functions.

It brings spending into line with revenues.

It begins to rebuild our reserves, so our State is better prepared for the future.

And it does it without raise taxes.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, during the current recession more than 30 States have had to raise their taxes.

Maine is different.

Under the leadership of Senator Bill Diamond, Representative Emily Cain, Senator Richard Rosen and Representative Sawin Millett, Maine has begun to lay the foundation for a strong recovery.

Together, they lead a thoughtful and responsible process that looked carefully at proposals to close the budget gap.

They put partisanship aside, and the entire committee – Democrat and Republican alike – was able to support the budget.

At times, there were disagreements. In some areas, the differences between the parties are important and real.

But through it all, the committee kept talking and kept working together.

And at the end, they had produced a plan that was better because of their efforts.

I also think it’s critical to recognize the way House and Senate leaders approached the budget.

Senate President Mitchell, Senate Leader Raye, Speaker Pingree and House Leader Tardy and the entire leadership team allowed the committee to work through the most difficult issues.

They kept an open mind and remained committed to a budget we all believe can win two-thirds support of the Legislature.

Too often in politics, it’s easier to fight than to work together.

If ever the circumstances existed for fighting to erupt, this year was it.

Instead, cooperation and bipartisanship carried the day.

Early next week, the full Legislature will consider the budget.

The plan will be before them. It strikes the right balance. It puts people first without sacrificing the opportunity for economic growth.

There are still tough cuts, and we are all required to do our part.

But the bipartisan work of the Appropriations Committee and the incredible efforts of folks like Commissioner Ryan Low and his team have created a strong foundation for recovery.

To everyone who has worked so hard to chart a course through these unprecedented times, I say: Good work.

Switching for just a moment, I also want to say “good work” to the University of Maine men’s hockey team.

Under the leadership of Coach Tim Whitehead, the Black Bears made an incredible run to the Hockey East finals.

Overcoming a late-season slide, the team fought hard night after night.

Fans got a great show, as the Black Bears erased an early deficit and forced overtime in the finals.

In the end, the team came up just short of the title and a bid to the NCAA tournament.

But the gutsy playoff run showed all of us that Maine has returned to prominence and is once again a contender.

The Black Bears showed incredible heart and delivered a great season.

Thanks for listening and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

Bipartisanship and the Budget

Governor Baldacci Applauds Passage of State Budget Revisions

March 30, 2010

March 30, 2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today released the following statement after the passage of LD 1671, “An Act Making Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government.”

“Maine’s Legislature has demonstrated that it can rise above partisanship and make difficult decisions,” Governor Baldacci said. “While much of the country is torn apart by heated political rhetoric, in Maine things are different. We are able to work together – regardless of political party – to do what’s best for our people.”

“In December, when I presented my plan to close an anticipated $438 million gap in the State budget, my priorities were to align spending with revenues, make government more efficient and avoid raising taxes, while protecting the most vulnerable,” Governor Baldacci said. “In an overwhelmingly bipartisan way, members of the Maine House and Senate have approved legislation that does all of that.”

“State government will be smaller, we have made important structural changes that will reduce the cost of government going forward, and we will begin rebuilding our reserves,” Governor Baldacci said. “And we have protected our most vulnerable and provided significant support to K-12 education.”

“Today’s accomplishment would not have been possible without Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate and the members of the Appropriations Committee.”

“Senate President Libby Mitchell, Speaker Hannah Pingree, Senate Republican Leader Kevin Raye, House Republican Leader Josh Tardy have demonstrated exceptional leadership and patience. Their good-faith efforts and hard work helped to make this bipartisan effort possible,” Governor Baldacci said. “I also want to again thank Sen. Bill Diamond, Rep. Emily Cain, Sen. Richard Rosen and Rep. Sawin Millett who worked together and brought forward a unanimous committee report out of Appropriations.”

“There are many difficult choices in this budget,” Governor Baldacci said. “But it will strengthen our State in the future and prepare Maine for economic recovery and growth. Working together, we have set the right course.”

The Governor will sign the bill on Wednesday. A time has not been set. More information will be made available as soon as possible.

Job Creation

April 3, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Last week, the Legislature put aside partisanship and passed a responsible budget that will bring State spending in line with revenues.

Through the hard work of countless individuals, we passed a plan that will make government smaller and more efficient.

It will protect the most vulnerable.

It will make important investments in health and human services and in education.

And it does it without raising taxes, fees or fines. And it brings the spending level in 2010-11 to the same level that it was in 2001, almost 10 years ago.

All of Maine should be proud of the overwhelmingly bipartisan effort to address problems caused by the worst recession since the Great Depression.

But as we enter what is likely the last week of Legislative session, there is still much work to be done.

The Legislature will soon consider proposals to make a significant investment in job creation.

While State revenues and our economy appear to be stabilizing, unemployment is still too high.

More than 57,000 Mainers are without jobs, and the unemployment rate in some construction-related industries is still more than 25 percent.

It’s critical that we take action today to put people back to work.

I have proposed a $79 million dollar investment package that will put almost 2,000 people back to work within the next 12 months.

And the package will help to protect the jobs of thousands of more workers.

This bond package is conservative, targeted toward projects that will create jobs quickly.

It includes $31 million in highways, making much needed repairs around the State.

Eleven counties in Maine would benefit from improved roads.

My plan also includes a major investment to protect rail service in Aroostook County.

Right now, the State is on the verge of losing the railroad.

If we don’t invest, 22 companies will be cut off from rail, almost 1,000 workers directly impacted.

Aroostook is heavily dependent on farming and wood products, industries that depend on rail to move their goods to markets around the world.

The State MUST NOT stand by while this asset is lost.

The consequences are still too high. And the ripple impacts will be felt all over the State.

In addition, the investment package will improve freight rail and begin to open up more of the State to passenger rail, particularly in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

My plan would also invest in the deep-water pier in Portland, expanding the ports operation and drawing thousands of people and millions of dollars to the State.

I’m also proposing that we invest $7 million dollars to keep our State’s water cleaner and our communities healthier.

These water projects create jobs and draw as much as five-to-one match from the federal government.

It’s a good deal and it’s important work.

My proposal invests $5 million dollars in the State’s industrial energy efficiency program.

This program helps large employers reduce their energy costs and the amount of pollution they produce, and protect a significant amount of the workforce.

But as important, the savings make the companies more competitive and also help the State of Maine.

We know that our people can compete with anyone in the world if they have a level playing field.

These grants give them a fighting chance, and keep jobs from moving overseas.

I’m also proposing to invest $5 million dollars at the University of Maine to help our State grow a new industry building the component parts, the manufacturing for wind energy generation.

Maine is a leader in the United States on energy conservation and the development of alternative energy.

With these investments, we can continue our leadership role and attract new businesses to Maine, creating jobs and securing our State’s energy future.

I know that among some there is concern about borrowing right now, even for the worthy cause of creating jobs.

But we cannot sit back and wait for the economy to improve. We must take appropriate action to make it happen.

But just as the budget we passed last week was responsible, protecting human life while also safeguarding our economy, investing in new jobs is also responsible.

Maine is conservative in its bonding, maintaining debt levels well below the national average. And paying them back in 10 years, not the standard 20 years.

The bond rating agencies consistently point to the strength of Maine’s borrowing practices.

We can afford this investment.

Months ago, I heard people say that there was no way the State could find its way to re-balance the budget.

But through hard work, and a focus on doing what was right for the State and good-faith efforts by Democrats and Republicans, we were able to pass a budget plan that was supported by 110 members of the House and 31 out of 35 members of the Senate.

It wasn’t easy, but at the end of the day we were successful.

I hope the same thing can happen on this issue.

It’s a tough vote for some folks, but our roads our crumbling and our people need work.

Now is the time to invest.

Thank you, have a nice weekend and a Happy Easter.

Related Documents

Job Creation

Governor Ceremonially Signs Legislation to Ban Health Insurance Caps

April 6, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci held a State House ceremony today to celebrate the signing of LD 1620, "An Act To Protect Health Care Consumers from Catastrophic Debt,” into law. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham), protects health insurance consumers from annual and lifetime health benefit caps.

Among the supporters of the bill in attendance for the ceremony was Theresa D’Andrea, whose husband Rocky advocated for the bill, and who passed away from cancer just days before the bill’s passage in the Maine Legislature. Theresa D’Andrea now faces $60,000 in unpaid medical bills because her husband’s care in his last months was not covered by insurance due to a cap on the policy.

“This is an important piece of consumer protection legislation,” said Governor Baldacci. “As the very moving story of Rocky and Theresa D’Andrea shows, it’s often too late that someone understands or even knows what annual or lifetime caps are under their health insurance plan.”

Theresa and Rocky’s story was described by President Barack Obama during his visit to Maine last Thursday. The President cited the D’Andreas as an example of why eliminating insurance caps is needed. The federal comprehensive health reform package passed and signed into law by the President last month eliminates the caps, but those provisions do not take effect until 2014.

“The President recognized Theresa and said that no family should ever have to go through what she and Rocky did, and he’s right. That’s why Representative Berry, the D’Andreas and Consumers for Affordable Healthcare, among others, fought so hard for this bill,” said the Governor. “Maine’s law will go into effect before the provision against caps in the federal law, and so once again, Maine stands proud to be a leader in health care.”

Governor Baldacci signed LD 1620 on April 1, 2010. The law applies to health plans issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2011.

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Bridging the Divide

April 10, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

As the Legislature draws near the end of its work for the year, it’s understandable that some issues are lingering unresolved.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved a package of investments that would create thousands of jobs in Maine and protect many thousand more.

Unfortunately, the plan ran into resistance in the Senate.

The stakes are very high.

At risk are good-paying jobs, vital transportation links and economic development.

The bond plan being considered is tightly focused on job creation and job protection.

While we are seeing signs that our economy is getting stronger, unemployment is still too high.

More than 57,000 Mainers are without jobs, and the unemployment rate in some construction-related industries is more than 25 percent.

Our industrial base around the State, and particularly in Aroostook County, faces dark days.

We must take action.

The railroad that connects Aroostook County to the rest of the State is about to be lost.

Intervention is necessary. Or our entire State will pay a terrible price.

The railroad connects 22 major shippers in Aroostook to customers in Maine and around the world.

Towns as diverse as Madawaska and Portland, Lincoln and Rockland, Jay and Searsport depend upon the rail.

The rail line is critical to Maine’s manufacturing industries.

Rail is the most economical, most cost effective and environmentally sound way to move wood and finished forest products to market.

Without the rail link, it’s estimated that an additional 30,000 trucks will be put on Maine roads, and shipping costs could increase by 30 percent.

No business can afford that cost hike, especially in this difficult economy.

But the bond package being considered by the State Senate does more than just save rails in Aroostook.

It will expand rail service in Lewiston and Auburn and in Western Maine.

It will invest $35 million dollars in highways around the State, creating more than 900 jobs.

Our roads link our communities together. They enhance commerce, and lead to economic growth and opportunity.

Now is the time to invest in making them better and safer.

The plan also invests in a deep-water pier in Portland and Harbor improvements around the State.

The Portland pier would open Maine to thousands of visitors every year, bringing millions of dollars into our economy.

And the economic impact is felt across the State, as increased revenue is sent back to local communities to offset property taxes.

The bond package will also invest $5 million dollars in clean drinking water and improved sewer systems.

This investment draws a five-to-one federal match, puts people to work and makes our communities cleaner and healthier.

We are also proposing to invest $5 million dollars to build dental clinics and provide dental care in rural areas of the State.

There is a shortage of dentists in Maine, and our overall health is suffering because of it.

The competitive program will expand access to dental care to areas of Maine that need it.

And the bond package will purchase state-of-the-art equipment for the University of Maine to beginning building a manufacturing sector for onshore and offshore wind energy components.

This package creates jobs today and will create jobs for tomorrow.

I understand the reluctance by some folks to borrow, to pledge the credit of the State.

But we must act.

Too many of our people need work and the risk of inaction is too great.

We have the capacity to invest.

We are conservative with borrowing.

And there is much to be gain.

No one can predict the future.

There are no guarantees and this investment package won’t address all of our challenges.

But if we don’t act, we know what will happen.

The railroad in Aroostook County will be torn up and turned into scrap metal, cutting our State apart.

And that is unacceptable to me.

Ships will bypass Portland, taking an economic boost to ports further down the coast.

Our roads will continue to deteriorate.

And too many of our people will be without jobs.

We have a plan.

It is targeted and focused.

And it will work.

Together, we can make it happen.

Thank you and have a nice weekend.

Related Documents

Bridging the Divide

A Successful Session

April 17, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, the Legislature finished on a high note.

After a weekend of hard work, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass an investment plan that will start to create jobs this summer.

At times, it seemed like the prospects for consensus were slim. The two parties were divided, and talks had stalled.

The outlook was uncertain.

But we all kept at it.

The good relationships that had developed during a difficult year when Maine had been buffeted by the worst recession since the Great Depression carried the day.

Senator President Libby Mitchell, House Speaker Hannah Pingree, and Minority Leaders Kevin Raye and Josh Tardy kept working.

For hours on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we sat in my office talking about our priorities and how we could find common ground.

At the end of the day, both sides compromised.

And the real winners are the Maine people.

On Monday, the Legislative session ended with a bipartisan agreement on bonds that will create or protect thousands of Maine jobs.

We overcame partisan differences and did what was right for our State and our people.

Democratic and Republican Leaders, including members of the Appropriations Committee, worked together in good faith on a plan that will put people to work this year, make critical investments in highways, rails and ports, and strengthen Maine’s economy.

The bond package includes about $25 million dollars for highway construction and repair.

$16 million dollars for rail, including a critical investment that will help to save rail service in Aroostook County, which is important to the entire State;

$7 million dollars for ports, including a new deep-water pier in Portland;

$5 million dollars to advance the development of wind energy technology at the University of Maine;

And $5 million dollars to expand access to dental care in the State and for a community-based teaching clinic.

While the negotiations on the bonds were difficult, I knew that if we kept talking we could find a solution.

We’ve demonstrated that all year long.

When the Legislature began its work in January, it faced incredible challenges.

State revenues were declining while the needs of our people were increasing.

With an election pending and the political rhetoric on the national level running hot, there was danger for a stalemate.

We see it around the country. Political differences rule the day.

Maine is different.

The two political parties came together to balance the State budget.

Protected the most vulnerable.

Made important investments in education and improved our schools so our kids have the best opportunity for success.

We reduced State spending and made changes that will reduce costs going forward.

We began to rebuild our reserves. And we did it without raising taxes.

We have moved Maine farther down the road to energy independence and security.

And protected Maine’s air and water.

Helped Maine businesses.

And improved health care for our people.

Now, as the Legislative session has drawn to a close, we can begin to see the results of a job well done.

State revenues are beginning to slowly recover. Maine finished March with revenues above projections.

And while the economy is still fragile and it’s critical that we make important investments to prevent further decline, things are improving.

In Prospect Harbor, a deal is close at hand to reopen the Stinson cannery to process seafood, including lobster.

In Portland, Idexx announced its intention to expand, creating 500 good-paying jobs with benefits.

And at the Italian Heritage Center, more than 800 people turned out in one night to support the Preble Street Homeless Shelter and enjoy a plate of homemade spaghetti.

All in all, that makes for a pretty good couple of weeks.

This spring and fall, as campaigns heat up and people running for office try to stand out from the crowd, you’ll hear a lot of things about the folks who have been working for you in Augusta.

The fashion of the day is to throw stones at the men and women who serve and to second guess their decisions and their actions.

That’s politics.

But I remain deeply impressed with the work accomplished this year, when partisanship gave way to cooperation.

From energy to bonds to the budget, Democrats and Republicans found a way to get the job done and put the people of Maine first.

For that, I’m thankful.

Have a good weekend and a great Patriots’ Day.

Earth Day and Energy

April 24, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which we celebrated on Thursday.

Earth Day started quietly in Maine back in 1970, with events mostly on college campuses.

But environmental advocacy and a commitment to the land, air and water have a long history here.

Maine has always depended upon the natural world to attract people and to sustain our economy.

While much has changed in our State, the commitment to protecting the environment has never waivered.

Earth Day began during the birth of the national environmental movement, when important reforms were taking hold in Washington.

Led by Maine Senator Edmund Muskie, Congress enacted the Clean Air Act in 1970 and the Clean Water Act in 1972.

The laws laid the foundation for modern environmental policy and protection.

Working with Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals to craft forward-thinking policies, Senator Muskie changed the direction of our country for the better.

But the work to protect our environment cannot stop.

Once, environmental stewardship was placed at odds with job creation and economic development.

But today, we see clearly that we can promote a strong economy and have cleaner air and water.

On Wednesday, Vice President Biden announced that Maine had won a $30 million energy grant to help make homes more energy efficient.

This significant grant will help break down the barriers to energy efficiency that many families face.

There’s great potential for savings. But upfront costs make it difficult for too many families to make improvements.

Through an innovative program at MaineHousing and the PUC, the federal grant will make energy upgrades more affordable.

In the short-term, the grant will create new, green jobs and give a boost to our construction industry, which has been battered by the recession.

Over the long-term, Maine homes will use less energy, saving them money and reducing the amount of pollution.

Families will see the benefits in their wallets and feel them when there’s less pollution in the air.

Maine is too dependent on costly, foreign oil.

About 80 percent of our households depend on oil for heat.

Every year, billions of dollars are shipped to dangerous parts of the world instead of staying here at home where they can do the most good.

Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce that dependency.

Maine has been aggressive in its efforts to increase our energy independence and security.

Last year, we passed an Act to Secure Maine’s Energy Future, which organized all of the State’s energy efficiency programs into one place – the Efficiency Maine Trust.

That Trust will make it easier for families and businesses to get the help and support they need to retrofit their buildings.

The law sets ambitious – and achievable – goals of reducing and cutting Maine’s dependency on fossil fuels and reducing energy consumption.

And we will weatherize every home in Maine and half of all businesses during the next 20 years.

The significant grant we received this week will boost those efforts.

But it will also give us the opportunity to turn one-time federal resources into a sustainable program to fund energy efficiency.

You know, when I took office seven years ago, I was determined that Maine would break the grip that unstable energy prices hold on our economy.

Working with the Legislature in a bipartisan way fitting of Sen. Muskie’s legacy, we have been bold in our pursuit of energy independence.

We established predictable and appropriate rules to foster the growth of new sources of renewable energy.

We have supported industry with grants that are saving jobs today, making Maine companies more competitive and reducing pollution.

And we are setting the stage for new projects that will directly benefit Mainers.

Maine’s comprehensive approach to energy policy is already paying dividends.

• With new investments;

• Job creation;

• And a cleaner environment.

For 40 years, Earth Day has been about increasing environmental awareness and inspiring people to take action to make things better.

That work continues today as a new generation of men and women follow in the footsteps of Edmund Muskie and take up the cause of environmental stewardship.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Earth Day and Energy

Teacher Evaluations

May 1, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Accountability, effective teachers and student success go hand-in-hand.

Most teachers and principals work hard, and are committed to improving.

And their efforts translate into successful schools and students.

They deserve to be recognized for their performance.

But a few teachers and principals need more support. They aren’t getting the results that parents expect.

Our students deserve the best teachers and principals.

And the health of our economy demands high-achieving students who are prepared for college and careers.

Before adjourning last month, the Legislature approved a bill to allow using student achievement as one of the factors in evaluating teachers and principals.

This reform is coming, to Maine and the rest of the country.

In fact, some schools in Maine already are on board.

It’s time that we apply this tool more widely.

We know that evaluating teachers based, in part, on student achievement leads to significant improvements by students.

And as we work to implement the law, I have formed a stakeholder’s group to work on this issue.

The group includes teachers, principals, superintendents and a range of educational professionals.

Their goal is to work quickly to develop a model for tying together student performance and teacher evaluations that can be used by local school districts.

The work is that important.

I have set an aggressive timeline for the group to deliver results.

Earlier this week I sat down with this group of 10 educators at their first meeting.

Their task is challenging.

They must develop a fair and credible way to evaluate teacher performance.

It has to encourage excellent teachers and principals and not penalize others for things they cannot control.

It must encourage teachers and administrators to work together.

And it must deliver results.

It is not easy work.

To be successful, teachers and administrators will have to move past differences.

No one can draw lines in the sand. We want to build a consensus around reform, but we must make changes.

The bickering over past grievances has to stop, and everyone – teachers’ union and administrators – must work in good-faith to improve classroom performance.

If they’re not willing to do that, then they are putting past fights ahead of Maine’s students.

And I cannot accept that.

We need action soon.

Maine is applying for $75 million in additional federal funds through the Race to the Top grant program.

Maine can’t apply until we have at least one evaluation method that is available to all our schools.

The deadline is May 14.

The Department of Education has suggested a method of evaluating teachers that is supported by the National Education Association, superintendents and others.

It’s already working in more than 200 districts around the country.

And has led to significant improvement in student achievement where it has been implemented over the past 10 years.

In addition, it provides teachers with much needed and appreciated feedback for improvement.

Our goal is to create great teachers and great leaders, and give our students every opportunity for success.

Moving beyond the May deadline, the stakeholders will develop other options for evaluating teachers.

And local school districts will have a choice about which method to use and whether or not to tie student performance to teacher evaluations.

As with any change, there are legitimate concerns about teachers being unfairly graded.

That’s why it’s critical that teaches have a seat at the table and fully participate in this effort.

The work is necessary, and it’s the right thing to do.

It’s critical for our Race to the Top application, but it’s bigger than that.

Improved student performance and teacher evaluations are being incorporated at the national level.

Putting this reform in place will likely be part of the requirements for ongoing federal support for K-12 education in Maine.

Our State has great teachers and great schools.

We need to empower both to be better.

With the stakes so high, I am hopeful that all parties can set aside old fights, and develop ways to assure our students have the best teachers in the country.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

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Governor Swears in Faherty as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education

May 3, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today swore in Angela Faherty as the Acting Commissioner for the Maine Department of Education.

“Angela has the experience and the expertise to lead the Department of Education as we continue to implement important reforms,” Governor Baldacci said. “She shares my vision for better schools that provide the greatest opportunity for success to Maine’s students.”

Faherty replaces Susan A. Gendron, who left the department to become policy director for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a group of more than 30 states working to develop common assessments and to compete for a share of $350 million in federal Race to the Top education reform funds. Gendron’s last day was Friday, April 30.

Faherty has been the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Education for almost four years.

As Deputy Commissioner, Faherty has led numerous stakeholder groups and initiatives, including implementing the development of quality teacher standards for 21st century learning. She has served on the executive committee of Maine's North Star Alliance Initiative, “A Partnership to Transform the Workforce and Economy of Coastal Maine.” She also has been the lead manager of Maine’s Race to the Top application for federal funds.

Faherty earned her bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York and received her master’s in Education from the City University of New York and a doctorate in Education from the University of Missouri.

She has been a classroom teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels in literacy development, special education, and gifted and talented in the New York City, Missouri and Salt Lake City school systems. She was assistant professor at the University of Northern Iowa and adjunct professor at the University of Southern Maine, St. Joseph’s College and Walden University.

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Being Prepared

May 8, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

As I’ve watched recent events unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, in Nashville and in Boston, we are reminded of how important it is to be prepared.

We can’t always predict how or when dangerous events will unfold.

The oil spill in the Gulf is of enormous proportions. The flooding in Nashville has claimed lives. And much of Boston was forced to boil water after a massive pipe leak.

In Maine, we’re used to strong winter storms and heavy spring rains. We know how to deal with them, and Maine people know how to overcome the challenges they bring.

But on occasion, the rains can be too much. The ice can be too heavy. The winds can be too strong.

And we must deal with emergencies that put lives and property at risk.

It’s the work we do when the weather is calm that sets the stage for success.

At the end of April, the Maine Emergency Management Agency held its Emergency Preparedness Conference.

The event brought together first responders, school personnel, business leaders and volunteer agencies.

And the work they did put Maine in a better position to prevent disasters and respond when they occur.

I’m proud of the work done by the MEMA.

During an emergency, MEMA coordinates our response by bringing together all the assets of State government and working hand-in-hand with the private sector.

Last weekend, a major water main broke in the Boston area. Drinking water was in short supply and about 2 million residents were warned to either boil water before using it or use bottled water.

Our neighbors to the South were in trouble. Through cooperative agreements with Maine, they reached out for help.

MEMA was able to put Massachusetts responders into contact with our private-sector partners – Poland Spring and Hannaford.

And just like they have done countless times in Maine, these companies responded to neighbors in need with water to help Boston get through the crisis.

In the Gulf Coast, the true extent of the damage caused by the explosion and sinking of an oil platform won’t be known for some time.

But the impact -- to important ecosystems, to the economy and to the people’s way of life -- is already being felt.

Maine stands ready to respond and offer any assistance we can to support clean-up and response efforts.

Through a national cooperative system, during an emergency with other States, they can request help.

When the call comes, Maine is prepared to answer.

In March, Maine worked cooperatively with the federal government, the United States Coast Guard and other local, regional and private-sector partners on a disaster exercise.

The scenario will sound unfortunately familiar.

The exercise tested the response to a major oil spill that affected multiple states, creating extensive environmental, economic, public health and political challenges.

The lessons learned off Maine’s coast in March are being put to work in the Gulf right now.

The enormity of this disaster is hard to grasp.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and MEMA are active in planning potential assistance.

And the Portland-based Maine Responder, a 208-foot-long ship that can skim oil off the water is en route to the Gulf.

This is a national disaster, and it is going to require a national response.

While it’s important that we prepare for disasters, it’s equally important that we look at ways to prevent them.

Our dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to both environmental and economic disasters.

As much as I believe that Maine and the United States must end our dependency on oil, it remains an important part of economy – particularly in the short-term.

Portland is the second busiest oil port on the East Coast, and 80 percent of Maine’s homes rely on oil for heat.

But it doesn’t have to be that way in the future.

During my administration, I have aggressively pursued policies that will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and help us to develop alternative sources of energy.

On Tuesday, we’ll celebrate important work accomplished to make Maine’s energy future more secure.

Legislation passed this year will make it easier and more affordable for homeowners to reduce their energy costs, make our electrical grid more efficient, and support efforts to develop Maine-based renewable energy.

Maine has demonstrated, time and time again, that we understand the urgency of change.

We lead New England in the production of wind power and have tremendous opportunities off shore to generate wind and tidal power.

Those sources are safe and clean, reducing the amount of oil we need, and we will attract billions of dollars of investment.

We’ll have a cleaner environment.

Local sources of energy.

And thousands of new, green jobs.

Just like preparation is the key to responding to a disaster, preparation is critical to transforming Maine’s energy future.

Maine is ready.

Thank you and have a great weekend. And happy Mother’s Day.

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Being Prepared

Congratulations to Our Graduates

May 15, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

College seniors – and soon high school seniors – across Maine are in the midst of graduation season.

This is a time of great hope and opportunity for our graduates.

To those of you celebrating this milestone, congratulations.

Like you, I’m also graduating this year.

And like some of you – I bet – we will be moving back home.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve my hometown of Bangor, my State and my country in elected office.

Throughout more than 30 years in government, I have had the pleasure to meet many wonderful and inspiring people: Presidents, poets, statesmen and world leaders.

The people I find most inspirational are the young men and women of Maine, our State’s next generation of leaders and thinkers and creators.

The world our graduates will face is much different than the one that was waiting for me when I graduated from college.

But there is also a fundamental and core value that runs deeply through Maine’s communities.

In 1966, Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech at the University of Capetown, South Africa.

He asked the world to tear down the barriers of race and religion, social class and ignorance.

The challenge he gave to students was this:

“This world demands the qualities of youth”; he said, “not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.”

While the nightmares of segregation and apartheid have ended, injustice remains.

As our graduates move on to the next stage in their lives, they will be called upon to stand for what is right.

There is still discrimination and hate – intolerance for the things that make us different.

These battles are sometimes fought in crowds and through protest, but they are won with one person and one changed mind at a time.

Through small, individual acts of kindness, strength and moral courage, the world can be changed.

That our leaders of tomorrow can inspire others.

You can lead the way, and you can turn the tide.

One person can make a difference – Martin Luther King Jr.; Archimedes, who said give me a place to stand and I will change history; a young woman freed France: Joan of Arc; and a young man ruled the known world: Constantine.

So history is marked by the names of men and women courageous enough to make a difference.

But even if small acts can send a ripple that travels around the world, it also can help to change lives.

But good things don’t just happen.

They demand hard work and commitment.

Those are two qualities Mainers have had always in abundance.

It’s exciting to think about all the great things our Maine graduates will do.

The challenges they will overcome.

The doubts they will lay aside.

And the problems they will solve.

So as our graduates enter a world that is uncertain and changing.

As it was in 1961 when Robert Kennedy said:

“All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”

Years spent on the campaign trail and in public office give you a great gift – the chance to meet thousands of people, each with their own story.

It is the mill worker, the nurse, the teacher, the coach. The police officer, the fishermen, the line worker and firemen that I remember, and I think about every day when I go to work.

It’s people who work hard and play by the rules.

They raise their families, they pray that their children will be happy and have opportunities that they missed.

These children – our graduates of today – will realize our hopes for better days ahead.

And in celebrating their future - in recognizing their education, their skills, their creativity and their talent - we are celebrating Maine’s future.

Our graduates are the new leaders.

It is within their power to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.

But they will also help to build a better future for our State, and the many students and workers who hope to follow in their footsteps.

Anything is possible. Maine’s graduates can make it happen!

Congratulations.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Congratulations to Our Graduates

Governor Ceremonially Signs Legislation to Help Keep Seniors in Their Homes

May 19, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci held a State House ceremony today to celebrate passage of LD 1121, “An Act to Protect Elderly Residents from Losing Their Homes Due to Taxes or Foreclosure." The law, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Chase (R-Wells), allows municipalities to pass local ordinances enabling eligible seniors to defer property taxes for a period of time. “Many elderly residents on fixed incomes, especially those in lake and coastal communities, just want the ability to stay in the homes they have worked so hard to maintain,” said Governor Baldacci. “This law provides an important tool to communities to help qualifying Maine seniors stay in their homes.” Under the legislation, to qualify for this deferral, seniors must be at least 70 years old, occupy their residence, have lived in their home for at least 10 years and have a household income of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

Governor Ceremonially Signs Bill Making It Easier for Those Serving in the Military to Vote

May 19, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci held a State House ceremony today to celebrate passage of LD 1579, “An Act To Facilitate Voting by Uniformed Service and Overseas Voters.”

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Michael Willette (D-Presque Isle), makes it easier for members of the military and Mainers who are overseas on Election Day to submit absentee ballots through electronic means, such as e-mail or fax.

“We have to make every effort possible to allow our men and women serving in the military to vote,” Governor Baldacci said. “This legislation recognizes that soldiers serving overseas deserve every opportunity to participate in the democracy they are protecting.” The Legislation was signed by the Governor on March 29, 2010. The changes in the law do not apply to the June primary election.

Voting for Jobs

May 22, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Maine voters will go to the polls on June 8th and face several important questions.

Democrats and Republicans will be asked to pick their party’s candidate for governor in November.

But all voters have a chance to let their voices be heard on five important questions.

How they vote will have a lasting impact on Maine’s economy.

Maine voters are being asked to approve four bond questions that will make critical investments in our State and create new jobs.

To make it to the ballot, these questions had to win overwhelmingly bipartisan support in the Legislature.

During difficult negotiations, Democrats and Republicans worked together to build an investment package they could both support.

We put partisanship aside and compromised on a plan that put common-sense solutions ahead of short-term political gain.

It wasn’t easy, but the end product is something that deserves voter support.

We’re beginning to see signs that Maine’s economy is recovering from the national recession.

But the recovery remains fragile and uncertain.

By making important investments now, we can help the private sector create good-paying jobs, improve vital transportation links and increase economic development.

Unemployment remains too high.

And we have a chance to do something about it on June 8th.

We shouldn’t miss the opportunity.

The investments are broken into four categories.

Question 2 on the ballot asks voters to approve $26.5 million to invest in developing offshore wind technology in our State.

The investment will help to leverage almost $25 million.

This combined investment will help to build a new industry in Maine, creating jobs and helping to secure our energy future.

The resources also invest in the University of Maine, the Community College System and Maine Maritime Academy, to help them be more energy efficient.

It’s critical that Maine breaks its dependency on costly foreign oil.

Question 2 will do that and help our State maintain its leadership position in the development of alternative sources of energy.

Question 3 is about jobs today and jobs tomorrow.

It asks voters to approve $47.8 million for critical highway, railway and port improvements.

The question includes funding for a new deep-water port in Portland that will provide an economic boost to the entire State.

Drawing more tourists to Maine and expanding Portland’s ability to attract ships.

The question will also help us to save rail service in Aroostook County.

The railroad that connects Aroostook County to the rest of the State is about to be lost.

Intervention is necessary. Or our entire State will pay a terrible price.

The railroad connects 22 major shippers in Aroostook to customers in Maine and around the world.

The rail line is critical to Maine’s manufacturing industries.

Rail is the most cost effective and environmentally sound way to move wood and finished forest products to market.

Without the rail link, it’s estimated that an additional 30,000 trucks will be put on Maine roads and shipping costs could increase by 30 percent.

No business can afford that cost hike, especially in this difficult economy.

If approved, the question will also expand rail service in Lewiston and Auburn and in Western Maine.

And the question will make significant investments in roads around our State.

Our roads link our communities together.

They enhance commerce, and lead to economic growth and opportunity.

Now is the time to invest in making them better and safer.

Question 4 asks voters to invest almost $24 million in economic development.

This question will support small businesses, farmers, fishermen and loggers.

It will save historic properties.

And it will help us redevelop the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

The federal government made a terrible mistake when it decided to close the naval air station.

But their mistake is our opportunity.

And with Question 4, we can help to ensure Mid-Coast Maine comes back stronger than ever.

Question 5 will invest about $10 million to make our drinking water cleaner and safer.

This investment immediately creates jobs and will be matched by more than $33 million.

Water projects funded by this question not only protect our drinking water, but they put people to work almost immediately.

If approved, these investments will create jobs today and for tomorrow.

Now, I understand the reluctance by some folks to borrow.

But Maine is very conservative with bonding. We pay our debts in less than half of the time of most states – 10 years instead of the traditional 20 years.

So we have an opportunity to put people back to work.

The plan is focused, bipartisan and responsible.

And it will create jobs.

So on June 8th, we can give our economy a boost, help Maine small businesses, and take an important step forward, safeguarding our economy and our energy independence.

I hope you will vote “yes” for jobs.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Voting for Jobs

Governor Honors Maine Emergency Medical Service Providers

May 20, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today joined Maine Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers and other health and community representatives to recognize the outstanding achievements of emergency medical service personnel. The 23rd annual Maine EMS ceremony focused on the partnerships that are improving quality care statewide and the day-to-day contributions of first responders. This year’s ceremony focused on efforts to improve cardiovascular health outcomes and the HeartSafe Communities program.

“Maine EMS and other providers throughout the State are helping to build systems of care that improve the health and safety of Maine people,” said Governor Baldacci. “The coordination of providers through the Maine CDC Cardiovascular Health Program has led to better survival rates associated with heart attack and stroke. Maine EMS providers as first responders are on the front lines in implementing health system improvements.”

Maine Department of Public Safety and the Maine CDC Cardiovascular Health Program have collaborated with EMS and other statewide partners to increase public awareness of heart attack and stroke symptoms.

The HeartSafe Community Program promotes early access to pre-hospital treatment to speed diagnosis and treatment. This year, 14 new communities have been designated for the HeartSafe program, for a total of 51 statewide, covering more than 789,000 Maine residents.

The Governor also recognized the commitment of Maine EMS providers in addressing needs during last year’s H1N1 preparation and response. More than 2,000 EMS providers became trained to administer vaccine for seasonal flu and for H1N1. Tens of thousands of Maine residents received flu vaccines from EMS providers in schools, armories and community centers. In part, because of their efforts, Maine was identified by the federal government as leading New England for vaccinating against H1N1 in the high risk populations of pregnant women and children.

Awards were presented to:

Governor’s Award
Steven E. Diaz, M.D., Fairfield, State EMS Medical Director.

Barbara W. Woodlee, Ed.D., Augusta, recently retired President of KVCC.

Lifetime Achievement Award Fred Parsons, Paramedic, Presque Isle.

Harland “Hardy” Taylor, Oakland, Deputy Fire Chief and longtime rescue provider.

Pat Tardiff, EMT, Lisbon.

Excellence in EMS James Wilmerding, Paramedic, Northeast Harbor.

EMS Merit Awards Tracey Erickson, Dispatch Supervisor, Bangor.

Peter Holtby, EMT, Acton.

For more information about Maine EMS, visit http://www.maine.gov/dps/ems/

More information on Maine HeartSafe Communities can be found at http://www.healthymainepartnerships.org/mcvhp/heartsafe.aspx

Memorial Day and Tax Reform

May 29, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

As we enjoy this spring weekend with family and friends, I hope everyone will join me in paying tribute to the men and women who have served in our military.

On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while wearing the uniform of the United States of America.

They kept us safe and protected the values that make our country great.

We will never forget their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of those close to them.

And as we also hold close in our hearts the men and women who are serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world, we are proud of their service and look forward to their safe return home.

They are giving of themselves for all of us.

While our attention this weekend is on matters much more personal than the June 8th election, there’s an issue that will be decided in the next couple of weeks that I would like to talk about.

It’s not often that voters get a chance to weigh in on a so-called “miracle.”

But come June 8th, that’s exactly what will happen.

Last year, the Maine Legislature lowered the Maine income tax rate.

Despite the worst recession since the Great Depression and tremendous pressure to raise taxes, it didn’t happen.

Maine held the line.

And instead of raising taxes, we passed a new law that actually lowers the income tax rate for Mainer’s making less than $250,000 dollars from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent.

The change was so impressive that the conservative Wall Street Journal characterized the tax change as the “Maine Miracle.”

Since then, the law has come under attack from some folks, hoping to grab power by misrepresenting tax reform.

They have placed the law on the ballot and are asking Maine voters to repeal the law and raise their own taxes.

It just doesn’t make sense.

Here are the facts:

The tax reform plan will lower the overall tax burden for nine out of 10 Maine families.

For families making less than $30,000 dollars a year, 97 percent will pay less in taxes.

The plan lowers the income tax rate, and makes the tax code more progressive.

That means more low- and middle-income families will get a refund.

Overall, Maine taxpayers will pay more than $50 million dollars less in State taxes.

The reform has the support of the business community, including the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Portland Region Chamber of Commerce and the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.

It also has the support of organizations such as AARP and Maine Center for Economic Policy.

Taxes – and changes to the tax code – are almost always controversial.

But this reform has drawn the support of a broad coalition.

They are united behind the idea that a lower income tax and a more progressive tax code are good for Mainers, good for business and good for investment.

So, tax reform rewards work and gives Maine families more money to spend on the things they need.

It will attract new businesses to Maine and help to make our State more competitive.

So, to pay for the lower income tax rates, the tax reform plan does apply the sales tax to some things that were tax-exempt.

And it increases the amount paid by tourists to eat in restaurants or stay overnight in hotels.

But for people who live and work in Maine, taxes will go down by more than $50 million a year.

Now, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about tax reform.

And some people claim it includes adding a sales tax to hair cuts or electrician services, for example.

It doesn’t.

And the tax changes don’t include business-to-business services.

For other groups, opposition to tax reform is based on a national strategy to protect special interest carve-outs and exemptions.

I understand that they want to protect their own interests.

But tax reform is good for ALL of Maine.

It will help to grow our economy.

And it demonstrates that Maine is committed to creating a positive business environment.

If the new law is repealed, the highest income tax rate in Maine will increase by 30 percent.

To me, that’s unacceptable.

The law will help working families, the elderly and businesses.

It will make our tax code more stable.

And it will help our economy grow.

For the past seven years, Maine has been frugal.

We’ve reduced the size of government, while protecting core services.

We’ve invested in innovation and education.

And we’ve done it without raising taxes.

Now we have an opportunity to lower the income tax rate and reward work and reward investment.

On June 8th, I will vote “No” on Question 1.

It’s a vote that will help our economy, businesses and families.

Thank you and have a great Memorial Day weekend.

Related Documents

Memorial Day and Tax Reform

Governor Directs Department of Labor to Respond to CenterPoint Closure

May 28, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today directed the Maine Department of Labor to work with employees affected by the unexpected closure of CenterPoint, a call center in York County.

Concerned about the workers, the abrupt nature of the closure and news reports that the owner felt compelled to have police on location when workers were informed, Governor Baldacci directed the Department of Labor to begin work on a rapid response session for workers and to ensure that all earned wages are paid.

“We will make sure that the law is enforced and that the workers receive what is owed to them,” Governor Baldacci said. “In addition, the Department of Labor will help all the impacted workers understand the benefits available to them.”

The rapid response session has not been scheduled.

The June 8th Election

June 5, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

We all have some important work to do on Tuesday, June 8th.

For this Election Day, candidates running for the Democratic and Republican nominations for governor have received the most attention.

There are four Democrats and seven Republicans all vying for the opportunity to run this fall in the General Election.

In addition, there are competitive primaries in some Legislative districts.

But this election isn’t just for the political parties.

There are other important questions on the ballot, and I’d encourage everyone – Democrat, Republican, Green or unenrolled to turnout on Tuesday.

There are five statewide questions and a number of local ones that deserve voter attention.

From school budgets to city councils to tax reform and bonds, on Tuesday we have an opportunity to make our voices heard.

Maine has a history of strong voter participation, but June elections usually don’t draw the same crowds that we see in November.

But the issues are just as important.

In addition to choosing candidates, voters will decide on an important tax question and on four critical bond questions.

The outcome will have a lasting impact on Maine’s economy.

Question 1 asks voters to repeal changes made to the tax code.

Last year, we lowered the Maine income tax rate.

For most people, the rate goes from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent.

A big drop. More money staying in your pocket.

It also makes the tax code more progressive, meaning working-class families can expect a bigger refund.

The tax reform plan will lower the overall tax burden for nine out of 10 Maine families.

And for families making less than $30,000 dollars a year, 97 percent will pay less in taxes.

The change was so impressive that the conservative Wall Street Journal called it the “Maine Miracle.”

Overall, Maine taxpayers will pay about $50 million dollars less in State taxes.

To pay for the lower income tax rate, the law applies the sales tax to some things that were tax-exempt.

And it increases the amount paid by tourists who eat in restaurants or stay overnight in hotels.

The reform has the support of the business community and chambers of commerce and a broad coalition that includes the AARP.

The law rewards work, and Maine families get to keep more of their own money.

It will attract new businesses to Maine and help to make our State more competitive.

The law is good working families, the elderly and businesses.

Now, the other four statewide questions are about bonds.

The bonds faced rigorous scrutiny in the Legislature and the proposals being sent to voters have earned strong bipartisan support.

The bonds are targeted and focused and, if approved, will begin creating jobs this year.

Maine’s economy is showing signs of improvement.

But the recovery is not certain.

These bonds will make important investments now that will put people to work and help businesses to grow.

Unemployment remains too high.

And Maine voters can do something about it.

Question 2 on the ballot asks voters to approve $26 million dollars to invest in developing offshore wind technology in our State.

The investment will help to leverage almost $25 million dollars.

This combined investment will help to build a new industry in Maine, creating jobs and helping to secure not only our energy future but also helping our country.

Question 3 is about jobs.

It asks voters to approve almost $48 million dollars for highway, railway and port improvements.

The question includes funding for a new deep-water port in Portland and to save rail service in Aroostook County.

The railroad that connects Aroostook County to the rest of the State is about to be lost.

It’s a critical link to Maine’s manufacturing industries.

Our entire State will suffer if the railroad is allowed to disappear.

The investment would also expand rail service in Lewiston and Auburn and to Western Maine.

And it will make significant investments in roads around our State.

Good roads help our economy and businesses. We need to make them better and safer.

Question 4 asks voters to invest almost $24 million dollars in economic development.

It will support small businesses, farmers, fishermen and loggers.

It will save historic properties.

It will also help us redevelop the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Question 5 will invest about $10 million dollars to make our drinking water cleaner and safer.

It will immediately create jobs and be matched by more than $33 million dollars.

Projects funded by this question not only protect our drinking water, but they put people to work almost immediately.

Maine is conservative with bonding. We pay our debts back in less than half of the time of most states – 10 years instead of the traditional 20 years.

And we have been rewarded with low interest rates and strong support from the financial markets.

And we have an opportunity to put people back to work.

So these bonds are responsible and will create jobs.

Come June 8th Maine voters get to decide what happens next.

And as Adlai Stevenson said: “As citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiding, the beginning and the end.”

I trust Maine voters to make the right decisions, and I encourage everyone to participate in Tuesday’s election.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

The June 8th Election

Maine Joins Offshore Wind Consortium; Partnership Will Work to Streamline Development of New Energy Resource

June 8, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci has joined with the Governors of nine other States and the U.S. Department of Interior to Establish an Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium.

The Governors and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to streamline the process for siting deep-water wind energy systems on the Outer Continental Shelf.

“This is an important step for coordinating the efforts of coastal states and the federal government to develop offshore wind energy,” Governor Baldacci said. “Work going on in Maine and at the University of Maine positions our State to be a national leader in the development of offshore wind technology. With this agreement, Maine also has the potential to showcase a new streamlined permitting process that could significantly reduce the amount of time required for review.”

Secretary Salazar announced the agreement at Capitol Hill Oceans Week 2010 in Washington, D.C.

“I am very pleased to be joining with the governors of Atlantic coastal states to promote the safe and environmentally responsible development of the exceptional wind energy resources off our coasts,” Secretary Salazar said in a Department of Interior press release. “Appropriate development of Outer Continental Shelf wind power will enhance regional and national energy security and create American jobs through the development of energy markets and investments in renewable energy technologies.”

To advance the efficient, safe and responsible development of offshore wind, the participants will work cooperatively to produce specific recommendations for an improved process.

The nine other states are: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

Maine’s Chief Information Officer to Retire from State Government

June 10, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor Baldacci announced today the retirement of Richard Thompson, the State Chief Information Officer.

Thompson is responsible for information technology management in the Executive Branch. He will retire after more than 33 years of public service.

“Dick has been an innovative leader and a trusted resource within the Administration,” Governor Baldacci said. “He is a nationally recognized expert on information technology, and he has been at the forefront of important initiatives including broadband expansion, emergency communications and Maine’s award-winning Web site.”

Greg McNeal, the State’s Chief Technology Officer, will replace Thompson. McNeal has been the State’s Chief Technology Officer since 2005. From 2000-2005, he was the Director of Financial Services for the Maine Department of Transportation. He has also served as the Assistant Director of the Information Systems Division at Maine DOT and as an information technologist for Waterville. McNeal served 24 years in the United States Marine Corps, including more than 20 years in the field of information technology.

Thompson’s last day will be July 31.

During his tenure as CIO, Thompson coordinated the consolidation of technology resources into the Office of Information Technology, served on the ConnectME Authority, and worked with the Administration on key initiatives including expansion of broadband internet services in Maine. Thompson also worked on legislation to allow implementation of a Recovery Act grant for middle-mile fiber optic infrastructure.

One of the key initiatives Thompson has managed is the upgrade of the State agency public safety radio system, a project to bring the system into compliance with FCC regulations in 2012.

Thompson previously served as the Director of the Division of Purchases for more than 12 years.

Energy Update

June 12, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Tuesday, Maine voters let their voices be heard on a number of important issues.

Election Days are always exciting, and on Tuesday, I was gratified that Maine voters showed their support for job creation, innovation and economic development.

Voters approved an investment of almost $27 million dollars to advance Maine’s energy independence.

That investment, which will help to attract more than $24 million dollars in matching resources, will help our State become more energy efficient and develop new cutting-edge technology.

Paired with other federal and State, nonprofit and private resources, the investment will solidify the role of the University of Maine as a leader in the development of off-shore wind energy.

On Monday U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will visit the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University.

The federal government -- through the hard work of Senator Collins who invited Secretary Chu to Maine, Senator Snowe, Representative Michaud and Representative Pingree – is a strong partner with our State and the University.

Together, we are working to build an offshore wind energy demonstration site in Maine waters.

The site will attract private-sector investment and help to strengthen a new industry in Maine – the manufacturing of wind energy components.

Our efforts have earned the support of the Obama administration, attracting more than $25 million dollars in grants to help develop offshore energy.

In addition, on Monday Maine joined with nine other states and the U.S. Department of Interior to establish The Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium.

This is a group that will work to streamline the review and siting process for offshore wind projects in federal waters.

It can take more than seven years for a wind project to make its way through the federal bureaucracy.

That’s too long.

Opportunities will be missed.

This group will work to reduce that time, while also making sure the process protects the environment and that development is done responsibly.

Maine has a tremendous energy resources off our coast.

The work going on today will create thousands of new jobs, and translate into a cleaner, safer energy future.

Maine is already a leader in alternative energy and conservation.

We lead New England in wind power, with 95 percent of the region’s generation capacity.

Our offshore wind resources hold incredible potential to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

Working with a bipartisan Legislature, Maine has set aggressive goals that will put our State in control of our energy future.

But power generation is only part of the equation.

The most cost-effective way to reduce the cost of energy is to conserve.

In May, Maine was recognized for putting Recovery Act dollars to work quickly on weatherization projects.

Our State is one just one of seven to meet important requirements necessary for full funding.

Maine has weatherized more than 1,500 low-income homes under the Recovery Act, saving families on average $437 dollars a year.

The weatherization program has already created more than 160 jobs in just three months of this year.

About 80 percent of Maine’s households depend on oil for heat.

But we are making real progress to reduce this reliance.

And we’re doing it in a way that creates good jobs.

When I took office seven years ago, I made it a priority for Maine to break the stranglehold that unstable energy prices have on our economy.

We’ve established responsible rules to foster the development of new sources of renewable energy.

We have supported industry with grants that are saving jobs today, making companies more competitive and reducing pollution.

And we are setting the stage for new projects that will directly benefit Mainers.

We are seeing the benefits with investments being made in the State, new jobs and a cleaner environment.

Now, much work remains to be done, some of it will be difficult.

But we are making real progress.

Voters on Tuesday affirmed Maine’s commitment to a new energy future.

And our State will not turn back.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

Energy Update

Governor's Weekly Radio Address: Father's Day and State Parks

June 19, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Maine’s State Parks are celebrating their 75th Anniversary this year.

Since 1935, our State Parks have developed a worldwide reputation for quality and beauty at an affordable price.

Generations of families have grown up with fond memories of their visits, and they’ve learned about Maine’s culture and history.

Through the years, we have enhanced our parks, adding more amenities to make them safer, more convenient and more fun.

There’s a lot happening at our State Parks.

And this weekend is a great opportunity to check out what they have to offer.

On Father’s Day, State Parks and Historic Sites will be free for Maine residents.

Time together is one of the greatest gifts we can give our families.

Sometimes, we need to lead our kids outdoors.

And we need to get them away from the iPods, television and text messaging and let them smell the fresh air;

See the waves crashing on the beach;

And hike along some of the most beautiful trails anywhere in the world.

Three years ago, my Administration launched the Take It Outside initiative with the Department of Conservation.

The goal of the program is to improve the health of Maine families, to fight obesity and introduce folks to the wonderful outdoor recreation available in Maine.

Our 48 State Parks and Historic Sites make it possible for families to have a great experience close to home.

Last year, our parks welcomed 2.3 million visitors, who helped to contribute over $100 million to our State’s economy.

And since 2007, Maine voters have supported $7.5 million dollars in investments to improve our facilities, and protect our unique cultural heritage.

Did you know that the first cows ever brought to the United States came ashore at Vaughn Woods Memorial State Park in South Berwick?

Or that Fort Knox is the second largest historic fort in the country?

Our parks and historic sites keep us in touch with the past, bringing to life Maine’s place in American history.

And special events are planned all summer long.

And there’s a long list of activities to suit almost every taste, including:

• Bird watching tours; • Music; • Living History Displays; • Artisan and crafts festivals; • Horseback riding • And much, much more.

Our State Parks also have expanded their four-season recreation opportunities.

Winter Family Fun Days at Mount Blue State Park has tripled in size since it began in 2008, and the same event at Aroostook State Park welcomed 700 people.

And the Youth Ice Fishing Derby at Lake St. George State Park drew 600 visitors.

People love Maine’s parks, and they let me know it.

They send letters and e-mails that tell a common story.

The parks are well-maintained, they’re safe and affordable.

They offer unique and fun experiences.

And they are staffed by dedicated professionals who want every family to have a fun and memorable visit.

Tourism is a critical part of Maine’s economy, and nature-based tourism is one of our State’s largest draws.

People come from around the world for our beaches, lakes, mountains and rivers.

They are drawn here because Maine has aggressively protected the qualities that make our home special.

It’s why in Maine we have been aggressive in our efforts to conserve pristine wilderness, keep our forests working, and develop alternative sources of energy that are cleaner and safer.

Mainers take pride in the stewardship of our State.

We know that we live in a special place. Keeping it that way takes hard work and commitment.

And we do not take our blessings for granted.

I hope Maine families will be able to take advantage of our State Parks this weekend and spend some time together outside.

The memories will last forever.

Thank you and have a very happy Father’s Day.

Related Documents

Governor's Weekly Radio Address for June 19, 2010

New Turnpike Facility Dedicated to Gerard Conley Sr.

June 17, 2010

PORTLAND – Governor John E. Baldacci today praised Gerard P. Conley Sr. and his leadership of the Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) during the dedication of the new MTA Administration and Public Safety building. The building was named in Conley’s honor.

The Portland building consolidated operations that had been conducted at four separate facilities into one building. The new building houses the administrative staff of the Maine Turnpike Authority, the E-ZPass Customer Service Center and State Police Troop G.

“This facility enhances service to the public, ensuring a one-stop shop that is both efficient and effective,” said Governor Baldacci. “The facility we celebrate today also gives us a wonderful way to recognize a man who has made so many extraordinary contributions to the City of Portland and the State of Maine.”

Conley was born in Portland and has served his hometown for many years, including service as City Councilor and as Mayor.

Conley distinguished himself as a State Legislator, serving in both chambers for many years, including serving as Assistant Democratic Leader, Senate Democratic Leader and Senate President. Governor Brennan appointed him as Chairman of the Maine Unemployment Insurance Compensation Commission.

In 2004, Governor Baldacci appointed Conley to the Maine Turnpike Authority, naming him Chairman later that year. Under his leadership, the Maine Turnpike Authority has implemented E-ZPass, completed a five year, 30-mile widening and modernization project, and rehabilitated bridges and service plazas.

The facility was built following LEED standards, meaning that energy consumption is reduced and environmentally friendly practices have been and will continue to be followed.

Governor Celebrates New Housing in Portland

June 17, 2010

PORTLAND – Governor John E. Baldacci today joined officials from Tufts Medical Center, Developers Collaborative, the City of Portland, Portland builders and Gorham Savings Bank for the ribbon cutting of Crescent Heights, the latest apartment building in Portland. The building, primarily intended for use by medical students, is LEED-certified and planned with smart growth in mind.

“This new facility will serve this city and State well by helping to attract and keep medical professionals here in Maine, and gives special attention to urban issues, smart growth and energy efficiency,” said Governor Baldacci. “This forward-thinking initiative shows that even in these tough economic times, good things are happening in Portland and in Maine.”

“I want to commend the Developers Collaborative and all the designers, construction workers and others who played a role in its development,” said the Governor.

The Economy and Recovery

June 26, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, we learned that Maine finished May with revenues beating projections by more than $15 million dollars.

With less than a month left in the current fiscal year, Maine is on track to finish $50 million dollars or more above budget.

And we’ve seen our unemployment rate fall to 8 percent in May, a slight improvement over April and last year.

In fact, in four of the last five months, Maine has shown job growth.

The economy is improving – slowly – but improving.

But there is a larger, more complicated picture we have to understand.

For many businesses, success for the entire year is determined between now and Labor Day.

Important parts of our economy depend upon tourism, and the ability of visitors to come to Maine and enjoy all our State has to offer.

As we continue our efforts to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression, we cannot underestimate its lingering effects.

Tourism depends upon people feeling confident about their jobs and the future.

Right now, we still face some pessimism and uncertainty.

And too many of our people lack work and even more are afraid that things could get worse before they get better.

As I look back over the last year, it’s clear to me that the Recovery Act, and the quick and responsible actions we’ve taken in Maine and the support of Maine voters – we’ve made the difference.

Without that action, this recession would have been much worse, and the effects much more difficult to overcome.

A little more than two weeks ago, Maine voters showed they understand the struggle we still face.

They approved a significant investment in job creation that will help our economy beginning almost immediately.

It will create good jobs, and set Maine on a course for future growth.

The investments in new energy research, roads, clean water and economic development will pay dividends for years to come.

But the hard work isn’t done yet. And the difficult choices are far from over.

Right now in Washington, Congress is considering legislation that would help our country to continue to recover from the recession.

And while there is broad support for the goals of the bill, there are concerns about federal spending and the deficit.

It’s a difficult balancing act.

I have talked to Maine’s Congressional delegation and I know that they are all working for what they believe is a good solution.

Nonetheless, I am preparing to take action if it is necessary and there is no action from Washington.

I have an obligation to make sure Maine’s budget remains balanced.

Beginning in July, my administration will begin to prepare to adjust State spending for 2011 to match available resources.

It’s possible we will need to consider new reductions in State spending to balance the budget, which could mean more cuts to an already tight State budget.

But we will not be proposing raising taxes.

For context, Maine’s budget for 2011 is $2.6 billion, the same as it was 10 years ago.

And the number of State workers has been reduced by 1,000.

When people talk about runaway government spending, they aren’t talking about it here.

So as our summer tourism season reaches its high points in the next few months, we will have a much clearer picture of the economy and what we can expect down the road.

Maine has started to recover from the recession.

And we’ve done it with smart investments, frugal spending and by holding the line on taxes.

If we make the right decisions in Maine, recovery will continue.

Our economy is showing that it can grow and that it can create jobs.

We need to continue to support working families, fighting for every job and help those who are unemployed.

And if we stay focused on those goals, we can overcome this recession.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Related Documents

The Economy and Recovery

Governor Proclaims Results from June 8 Election

June 29, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci today signed a public proclamation of the results of the June 8 statewide elections.

The Governor received the results from the Secretary of State on Monday, June 28. According to the Maine Constitution, he has 10 days from that point to proclaim the results of any measure referred to the people and approved by a majority of the voters.

There were five questions on the ballot. Voters approved all five, including a People’s Veto of tax reform legislation and four bond questions.

Upon signature of the Governor, the measures become law in 30 days. In the case of the People’s Veto, the underlying measure does not become law.

In addition, the political parties held primary elections to choose their candidates for elections in the fall. The governor also received those results.

The text of the questions is below:

Question 1 (People’s Veto): “Do you want to reject the new law that lowers Maine’s income tax and replaces that revenue by making changes to the sales tax?”

Question 2 (Bond Issue): "Do you favor a $26,500,000 bond issue that will create jobs through investment in an off-shore wind energy demonstration site and related manufacturing to advance Maine’s energy independence from imported foreign oil, that will leverage $24,500,000 in federal and other funds and for energy improvements at campuses of the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System and Maine Maritime Academy in order to make facilities more efficient and less costly to operate?”

Question 3 (Bond Issue): "Do you favor a $47,800,000 bond issue to create jobs in Maine through improvements to highways, railroads and marine facilities, including port and harbor structures, and specifying the allocation of $4,000,000 of the transportation bond approved by voters in November 2009 to be used for capital rail purposes?”

Question 4 (Bond Issue): "Do you favor a $23,750,000 bond issue to provide capital investment to stimulate economic development and job creation by making investments under the Communities for Maine’s Future Program and in historic properties; providing funding for research and development investments awarded through a competitive process; providing funds for disbursements to qualifying small businesses; and providing grants for food processing for fishing, agricultural, dairy and lumbering businesses within the State and redevelopment projects at the Brunswick Naval Air Station that will make the State eligible for over $39,000,000 in federal and other matching funds?”

Question 5 (Bond Issue): "Do you favor a $10,250,000 bond issue to improve water quality, support drinking water programs and the construction of wastewater treatment facilities and to assist farmers in the development of environmentally sound water sources that will leverage $33,250,000 in federal and other funds?”

Fourth of July

July 3, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This weekend, we celebrate the birth of our great nation.

With fireworks, parades, silly costumes and family barbecues, on the Fourth of July we fly our flags with pride and remember what makes our country such a special place.

Unique in history from the day it was born;

Determined to be a light of justice and opportunity in a sometimes dark world.

This weekend is a time to celebrate all that is good about our country and our people, and to take stock of our place in its grand history.

But after the smoke from the sparklers has cleared and the sound of the patriotic music has faded, we will return to the circumstances we face today.

Among some, there’s a sense that things just aren’t right.

And you can’t blame folks for being angry when unemployment is too high, or we feel helpless to the stop the environmental disaster in the Gulf Coast.

There’s discord, and it looks like the issues in Washington are too much for our system to overcome.

But the troubles we face today will only be short passages in the story of our great country.

Just as we overcame the Great Depression, we will overcome this terrible recession.

Just as we defeated the Axis Powers during World War II and pried open the Iron Curtain to end the Cold War, we will defeat the enemies of our country who wrap themselves in the cloth of extremism and terrorism.

And just as we have overcome great fires and floods, disease and drought, attacks and disasters, we will overcome the oil that fouls the Gulf of Mexico.

Our resilience is the pedigree of our birth.

Two hundred and twenty-four years ago, as our nation came alive, things looked much worse.

In 1776, as Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, a British invasion fleet was preparing to land in New York.

Time has a way of softening the edges of reality. We forget that the men of the Continental Congress weren’t all friends, united behind a single idea.

The Congress included open rivalries and men of different convictions, all thrown together at a precarious moment in history.

Everything was at risk.

Despite being labeled “traitors” and “turncoats,” the members of the Continental Congress faced down the most powerful country in the world.

It’s easy to forget today, more than 200 years later, that when the Congress declared independence, the thirteen colonies also dissolved their central government.

As the war began, a new compact among the colonies was created. And a new federal government was formed hurriedly but from noble ideas.

But the Founding Fathers weren’t starting from scratch.

They built the United States on ideas from the Magna Carta that said no man – not even the King – is above the law.

They incorporated notions of individual liberty, justice and equality.

And they compromised and worked together to build a government that has survived through war, fear and desperation.

The choices they made have served our country well.

Ideas meant to keep the power of the government in check – such as the separation of powers between the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary – have insured that the ultimate authority rests with the people.

It’s easy to be frustrated when we look at government, particularly in Washington, and see what happens to appear to be inaction and divisiveness.

But the federal government was designed – by brilliant men determined to protect against the rise of a new king and the domination of the minority by the majority – to be deliberative, cautious and, at times, even cumbersome.

We do not invest ultimate power in one man or woman, free to move our country by decree. Or rely on the goodwill of the many to safeguard the few.

And it is that design that has overcome every obstacle, and that has made us stronger.

Formed while looking down the barrel of a British musket, the United States of American maintains the strength and vitality of its birth.

But our freedom has not come easily. It has been earned and protected by the brave men and women who serve our country at home and overseas.

And even as we enjoy this weekend, members of our military are serving under the harshest of conditions, far from family and friends.

We owe them all our gratitude and respect, and have a duty to support them and their families while they are away and when they return.

These men and women, who are willing to sacrifice for their country and its ideals, prove that what we share as Americans is worth fighting for.

Thank you and have a safe and happy Fourth of July Weekend.

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Fourth of July

President Grants Request for Federal Assistance for March Storms

July 2, 2010

AUGUSTA – Governor John E. Baldacci has learned that President Obama has granted his request that a major disaster be declared for York and Hancock counties for severe storms that occurred between March 12, 2010, and April 1, 2010.

The request for federal assistance, originally sought in May, was denied. Governor Baldacci appealed that decision on June 4. The appeal was granted Thursday night.

“The intense rain, wind and storm surge during March lead to significant damage in Maine,” Governor Baldacci said. “I’m pleased that upon further review the President and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have agreed to grant assistance. FEMA has always been a strong partner with Maine, and this decision demonstrates the agency’s willingness to work with states to help them recover from disasters.”

The Federal assistance will reimburse State and local governments 75 percent of the costs for emergency response efforts and to repair or replace storm-damaged public property and infrastructure, including roads and bridges in Hancock and York counties. In addition, all counties in Maine are eligible to apply for hazard mitigation assistance.

Governor Orders Flags Flown at Half-Staff on Thursday, July 8

July 6, 2010

AUGUSTA – In remembrance and honor of Staff Sergeant Eric Shaw, Governor John E. Baldacci has directed that the United States flag and the State of Maine flag be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Thursday, July 8, 2010.

Staff Sergeant Shaw was killed by enemy gunfire in Afghanistan on June 27.

The funeral service for Staff Sergeant Shaw is scheduled for July 8 at the Plummer Funeral Home in Augusta with a graveside service to follow at the Maine Veterans Cemetery.

Maine Draws a Crowd

July 10, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

With the summer tourism season in full swing, Maine has been blessed with great weather.

Warm temperatures, blue skies and cool water have brought people to visit.

For the Fourth of July weekend, traffic coming into the State on the Turnpike was up almost 9 percent over last year.

More than 245,000 cars and trucks went through the York Toll Plaza for the holiday weekend.

And the Maine Innkeepers Association reports that they had one of the best weekends in at least two years.

While a lot of folks like to joke about tourists and complain about the traffic on Route 1 during the summertime, tourism remains one of our State’s most important industries.

It helps to bring billions of dollars into the State, and supports about 140,000 jobs.

And while August is typically one of the our busiest tourists months, the growth for four season recreation, including skiing, snowmobiling, hunting and fishing, keep people coming to Maine all year round.

In its report, Charting Maine’s Future, The Brookings Institution put it this way:

“As the search for quality places grows in importance, Maine possesses a globally known ‘brand’ built on the image of livable communities, stunning scenery, and great recreational opportunities.”

People come to Maine because it’s a great place to live, work and enjoy the best that life has to offer.

But that hasn’t happened by accident.

Mainers understand what makes our State special, and we’ve been aggressive in our efforts to protect it.

Maine has more than half-a-million acres of State and national parks, including the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Acadia National Park, Baxter State Park and part of the Appalachian Trail.

There are more than 32,000 miles of rivers and streams that if put together are longer than the Mississippi, Amazon and Nile rivers combined.

And our beautiful coast stretches for more than 5,000 miles and is home to more than 60 lighthouses.

Just this year, the Land for Maine’s Future program helped to protect the Kelley Farm in Bowdoinham, keeping new generations of farmers on the land and providing a good resource for locally grown food and new businesses.

The Land for Maine’s Future also protected more than 1,000 acres around Branch Lake in Ellsworth and permanently secured public access to Higgins Beach in Scarborough.

Working with the Trust for Public Land, the Towns of Ellsworth and Scarborough, Land for Maine’s Future has helped to assure that these important resources remain accessible.

And in June, Maine voters approved $3.5 million dollars to preserve significant historic properties and promote economic revitalization.

It all adds up to make Maine a destination for thousands of visitors every year.

We’ve also made critical advances in helping to make the visit easier and more attractive.

On Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and I announced that grant agreements have been finalized to begin work on the expansion of passenger rail service north of Portland to Brunswick – The Downeaster.

Funded by $35 million dollars from the Recovery Act, the project will put people to work beginning this year and open the Midcoast to passenger rail.

And the expansion is a necessary step to expand passenger service even farther into Maine.

The project is critical for our State, will help our environment, create jobs and will bring more visitors here.

As Secretary LaHood said, travelers will begin to have better options and we’ll be putting people to work on a great project.

While it’s clear that our economy still has a long way to go before it fully recovers from the global recession, we have seen some progress.

And the strong numbers of visitors last weekend and the number of people staying over night are good signs.

But our efforts, supported directly by voters, are making the investments that will put Maine on a stronger economic footing for years to come.

We know that our home has something special to offer – to visitors on vacation and to new businesses looking to grow or relocate.

Our workers are unmatched and our reputation for quality has traveled the world.

Together with our unique cities, picturesque downtowns, pristine lakes and wild rivers, parks and historic sites, beaches, mountains and forests, Maine has what people all over the world are looking for.

And we’re doing what it takes to protect these special places and position our economy for growth.

Thank you for listening and enjoy another great Maine weekend.

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Maine Draws a Crowd

Governor's Radio Address for July 17: Governor Discusses NGA and NEGC Meetings

July 17, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

It seems strange to leave Maine this time of year, when our State is drawing visitors from all over the world, including the President of the United States and his family.

But earlier this week I traveled to Massachusetts to meet with governors from all over the country, including our neighbors in New England and premiers from Eastern Canadian.

The first meeting was with the National Governors Association, a bipartisan group that helps to build consensus among states and develop solutions to complicated policy questions.

Governors have a unique opportunity to work together, share ideas and learn from one another.

We tackled challenging issues, such as making our health care system more sustainable, economic development and federal deficit reduction.

While every state is different and a broad range of voices are represented among governors, it was clear that we have more in common than what separates us.

Almost every state has struggled under the effects of the recession, and all but Vermont are like Maine and are required to balance their budgets each year.

And while Vermont doesn’t have the requirement, State leaders have demanded a balanced budget because they know it’s good policy.

And we heard from experts who shared their knowledge and insights.

Business leaders, scholars and policymakers brought unique perspectives that are helpful as we begin preparations to implement national health care reform and maintain our balanced budget.

One of the most impressive discussions focused on the federal budget deficit and the necessity of finding an answer to the nagging question.

While I was a member of Congress, we were able to work hard with the Clinton Administration and a Republican Congress to balance the federal budget and begin to pay down the national debt for the first time in modern history.

Two wars, disproportionate tax cuts and a terrible recession have reversed that progress.

President Obama has appointed a national commission on fiscal responsibility and reform to work on the problem.

Two chairmen – former Senator Al Simpson and former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles – joined an impassioned discussion with governors.

Senator Simpson is a Republican and Erskine Bowles is a Democrat.

But they put partisanship aside to work on a serious issue facing our country.

The two men have spent a lifetime in public service, and understand Washington and politics.

And while reducing the deficit is their primary mission, they freely admit their first task is to build trust among the members of the commission.

Senator Simpson told a story about a recent trip he made to the floor of the United States Senate. He greeted an old friend – a Democrat -- with a big hug.

Right after, he was approached by a newer member of his own party who offered him an ominous warning: If I were you, I wouldn’t do that again.

It is a startling reminder of how partisan and angry things have become in Washington.

There are real differences between Democrats and Republicans, but we are all Americans and we are all working to make our country better.

In Maine, things have been different. Our Congressional delegation has been able to work across the aisle on many important issues and our State Legislature has overwhelmingly passed bipartisan budgets even during the toughest of times.

But we cannot take that Maine tradition of pragmatism for granted.

Compromise is not a dirty word.

And we should support leaders – like Senator Simpson and Erskine Bowles – who are willing to work together in good faith for the good of our country.

After the National Governors Association conference, New England Governors joined with the Premiers from Eastern Canada for a separate day of meetings.

The focus was on regional issues -- particularly energy, transportation and jobs.

While there, I signed an agreement with Premier Dexter of Nova Scotia on offshore energy research.

Both Maine and Nova Scotia are aggressively pursuing offshore energy development, including research into tidal power.

This agreement will help us share information and bring together leading thinkers in the field and eventually expand participation to include other New England states and Canadian provinces.

Maine is a national leader in the development of onshore and offshore wind energy. We have some of the largest wind farms in New England. Through creative partnerships with like-minded neighbors, we can push that leadership role even further.

In addition, I signed an agreement with Premier Graham of New Brunswick to expand cross-border cultural exchange.

Maine and New Brunswick have much more in common than just a border.

We have deep historic, cultural and artistic ties, and together we will work to increase collaboration, and business and cultural trade opportunities.

The agreement is particularly important as planning continues for the World Acadian Conference, a signature event that will be held in Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec in 2014.

While my focus remains on Maine, it’s important to remember that our State is part of a larger, broader region and country.

Working together with our colleagues who are facing similar challenges, Maine can become stronger and more secure.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Audio of Governor's Radio Address for July 17

Positive Signs

July 24, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

As we clean up from the severe thunderstorms that blew through Maine this week, it’s encouraging to know that at least the economic forecast has gotten a little brighter.

On Friday, Kestrel Aircraft Company announced that it would locate a new high-tech manufacturing facility in Brunswick, Maine.

The new company will hire between 50 and 70 engineers to begin design work on a cutting-edge passenger plane.

The company intends to build a new, advanced composite passenger aircraft – called the Kestrel JP 10 – here in Maine.

Once the design and development work is complete, Kestrel will begin production at the facility, adding another 250 highly skilled jobs.

The company’s decision speaks to the quality of Maine’s workforce, our improving business climate and our commitment to support new technologies.

Kestral Aircraft Company will complement the already strong composite technology cluster in the Mid-Coast and the development of the Maine Advanced Technology and Engineering Center, which will be located at Brunswick Landing.

The Advanced Technology Center, which is a partnership between the University of Maine and Southern Maine Community College, received significant funding this year when voters approved $4.75 million dollars that was for the program.

Mainers understand the importance of investing in innovation and the industries of the future.

Kestrel’s decision to come to Maine demonstrates the success that can occur when government at all levels works cooperatively with the private sector on economic development.

The redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station has been a top priority of my administration, a priority that is also shared by the Maine Legislature and the people of the State.

We will continue to work to help Brunswick Landing realize its full potential.

We have come a long way since the summer of 2005.

The federal government made a mistake when they closed the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

Since that day, we have worked together tirelessly to turn that mistake into opportunity.

We are making progress.

Maine’s financial position is also improving.

While it’s too early to talk about the national economy in terms of recovery, Maine did end last fiscal year with a surplus of more than $70 million dollars.

That surplus puts Maine in a better position to address the challenges facing our State.

And while there are signs that the economy is improving, recovery remains fragile and we must remain vigilant.

The surplus is good news, but we have to understand the context.

Even with the improved circumstances, we finished this year more than $55 million dollars below the 2009 level, and revenues were about the same as they were in 2005, five years ago.

The surplus is the result of improving corporate profits and a recent improvement in the sales tax.

But they are also a result of a disciplined and frugal approach to government spending.

And I remain committed to rebuilding Maine’s financial reserves so the State can weather future hardships without raising taxes.

We have controlled spending and focused on finding efficiencies.

And we have fulfilled our commitment to the most vulnerable in our State.

But it hasn’t been easy, and there have been many, many tough choices.

We’ve done it by working together.

But our work is not done.

Without Congressional action to extend support for Medicaid, Maine faces a potential budget gap of an additional $100 million dollars.

So if Congress does not act, in October I will be forced to issue an executive order to immediately cut spending.

My administration right now is identifying areas within State government where spending can be reduced.

Every department and agency has received a target for those reductions.

In the coming weeks, we will thoroughly examine the alternatives and put forward a plan to assure that Maine’s budget remains balanced.

Already, I’ve heard from some folks saying that we should use the surplus to restore earlier cuts in the State budget.

Unfortunately, that’s not possible.

The lingering effects of the global recession continue, and we have to understand that government must continue to do more with less.

It’s a hard message.

But it’s the truth.

Kestrel’s decision to locate in Maine and our State’s improving revenues point to the opportunities that exist.

And remind us that better days are ahead.

But our task now is to remain responsible and ensure that our economy has every opportunity to begin to grow again.

And if we stay focused, we will get there. The best social service program is a good-paying job with benefits, and the best social service department is the family. We need to work to continue to strengthen both.

Thank you and have a nice weekend.

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Positive Signs

Maine's Pension System

July 31, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week, we have seen a number of news stories about the pension system for public employees in Maine.

For the most part, the reports have done a good job of explaining the situation.

But as the political season heats up, there will be plenty of opportunity for misunderstandings and misrepresentations.

Like almost every State in the country, Maine has an obligation to pay pension benefits for workers who have retired from government service.

And, like almost every State in the country, the share of the General Fund budget that is necessary to support those pensions is rising.

In years past, the State did not always keep up with its payments to the retirement system, and a large debt developed.

That began to change in 1995 when a Constitutional amendment was passed that requires the pension system to be fully funded.

Since then, Maine has made enormous progress.

In 1992, Maine’s pension system only had 33 percent of the assets it was projected to need. By 2009 through disciplined budgeting, the pension system has reached 68 percent of appropriate funding.

While there’s no doubt that we still have work to do, successive governors and legislatures have taken the issue very seriously.

According to the Pew Center on the States, Maine’s pension system is the healthiest in New England. The group says that Maine is a solid performer in meeting its obligations, even while other states in the region were characterized as needing improvement or having serious concerns.

And we have consistently met our obligations for ongoing expenses and those inherited from 20 years ago.

It hasn’t been easy.

As the pension system obligation has grown, it has required a greater commitment of resources.

In future years, it’ll be even tougher.

And the task has been made more difficult by the recession, which has reduced the pension system’s investment earnings.

Just as individual retirement plans have suffered, so have the investments for the retirement system.

The issue is real, and it is growing.

That’s why we have put into law that 20 percent of any year-end surplus must be dedicated to pay down the obligations of the pension system.

And that’s why during my administration we have always met our current obligations and made payments to reduce the unfunded liability that we inherited.

We cannot take this issue lightly, and we do not.

But at the same time, we should not allow it to be manipulated for political or partisan reasons.

Maine’s pension system is at risk of becoming a proxy for attacks on State workers or government.

In Maine, workers are required to pay more than seven-and-a-half percent of their paychecks into the system, which is more than Social Security requires.

Only one in five workers actually receives full benefits, and nearly half -- 50 percent -- do not qualify for any State pension because they leave their job before five years.

There is not simple fix to meeting this obligation.

Changing the benefits for current or future employees doesn’t change the long-term obligation that had built up over time.

And because Maine pays its current bills as it should and can’t add new benefits without fully funding them completely, changes in the retirement system have been limited.

While Maine has kept its pension system, most private-sector employers have moved to what is called a defined contribution plan.

In many cases, they make contributions to an employee’s personal retirement plan, but it is up to the individual to make investment decisions and to shoulder the risk of those choices.

As any one with a 401(k) plan can attest during this recession, the notion of retiring today can be disheartening.

The market has tumbled, and retirement savings have suffered.

There’s great uncertainty.

And we are all aware Social Security faces many of the same pressures that we face with Maine’s pension system.

In Maine, we’ve worked to reduce our pension costs by dedicating resources – even during this terrible recession – and reducing the size and cost of State government.

Those changes are making a difference.

We’ve also continued to look at reforms in the system that could reduce its cost. In 1993, for example, Maine raised the retirement age for new employees and those with fewer than 10 years of service.

More changes are likely necessary.

But regardless of the difficulties of the task ahead, one thing is certain.

Maine will always meet its obligations to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to our State.

We will take care of our workers, our retirees and those who are most vulnerable. And we will continue to streamline government, make it more efficient and carefully guard taxpayer dollars.

Of that, I have no doubt.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Maine's Pension System

Taking Notice of the Positive

August 7, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

So far, it’s shaping up to be a good summer for Maine.

The weather has been great. The economy has started to improve.

And there’s been encouraging news for a number of our communities.

After months of hard work and negotiations, this week we announced that a new company will take over the Bumble Bee Cannery in Prospect Harbor.

The cannery closed earlier this year, and we’ve been working hard to find a new owner.

Those efforts paid off this week when Live Lobster announced that it would purchase the facility and immediately put 40 people in the community back to work.

Within two years, the company expects employment to total 120 workers, and there are plans for further expansions down the road.

The company has assured me that it is committed to Maine, to Prospect Harbor and to building a state-of-the-art seafood processing facility.

That’s good news for the community and the workers who were hurt when the cannery closed its doors.

Likewise, TD Bank opened a new call center in Auburn that is expected to employ 500 people by next year.

TD Bank has long been a valued corporate citizen in Maine.

The company’s expansion once again demonstrates a commitment to our State, and speaks to the quality of our workforce.

We recently announced that Kestrel Aircraft Company will locate a research, development and manufacturing facility in Brunswick.

The company plans to hire between 50 and 70 engineers initially and expand to 250 people when they begin production of a cutting-edge composite airplane right here in Maine.

Earlier this week, we began working in earnest on the expansion of passenger rail service north of Portland.

Recovery Act dollars are putting hundreds of people to work on the passenger rail line to Freeport and Brunswick and helping Maine to build the transportation infrastructure necessary to support a vibrant, modern economy.

But the good news isn’t limited to just those four communities.

In each case, the positive impact will spread across the entire State.

I know there’s always a temptation to focus on the dark clouds and to overlook the silver linings.

And I know that the headlines often present a reality that feels less than hopeful.

But even as we work our State and our country out of the worst recession since the Great Depression, there are reasons to be optimistic.

On Monday, we learned that Ocean Renewable Power Company won a significant grant to support its work to develop tidal power near Eastport.

It’s good news for Maine’s effort to break the grip that foreign oil holds on our economy and to develop new sources of energy right here at home.

And in Washington, Maine’s two United States Senators – Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins – took a stand to help Maine’s economy.

They cast a critical vote for jobs, health care and for education.

Congress has been struggling to find the right balance between delivering much-needed support to the states while also protecting the long-term sustainability of the federal budget.

It’s a tough issue.

With the support from Sen. Snowe and Sen. Collins in the Senate, and Rep. Michaud and Pingree in the House, Maine is expected to receive critical support that will have a profound impact as we work to protect jobs and grow the economy.

Maine finished 2010 on a good fiscal note, but the partnership we have with the federal government is necessary to ensure recovery.

Our entire Congressional Delegation continues to show that it puts Maine first.

While there’s no question that Maine faces many difficult choices in the future, it’s clear to me that when we are able to work together with cooperation between the private sector and government at all levels, we can get results.

The work to safeguard Maine’s economy and maintain a balanced State budget will continue.

And I know that we must continue to look for efficiencies, stretching dollars and setting priorities.

At the same time, I hope we can also take notice of the positive things that are happening in our communities

There’s work being done to make our State stronger and more prosperous.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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Taking Notice of the Positive

Beyond Maine’s Borders

August 14, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

As we look back on 2009, it’s hard to find any sector of the world economy that didn’t struggle.

The global recession hit about every industry in just about every country in the world.

Unemployment in the United States has stubbornly stayed above 9 percent, sticking at 9.5 percent in June.

In Maine, we’ve done a little bit better, but unemployment was still too high at 8 percent as it was reported in June.

Maine’s ultimate success depends on our ability to capitalize on the things that make us unique and to expand our reach into new areas and new markets.

Last year, Maine’s exports were hard hit.

Markets around the world had little capacity to buy or invest. For 2009, exports dropped by 24 percent after four years of steady growth.

Trade is critical to Maine’s economy. More than 24,000 workers are employed by foreign companies, which have invested more than $6.2 billion dollars in property and equipment in our State.

So, their success is our success.

So far in 2010, we are beginning to see the export market turn around.

Through the first half of the year, exports were up 44.7 percent.

And, more impressively, pulp exports were up 200 percent and paper exports were up 72 percent.

The pulp and paper and wood products industry are critical to Maine, and particularly to the more rural parts of the State.

The industry had a rough time in 2009, with production dropping significantly.

As an article last week in MaineBiz points out, Maine’s pulp and paper industry are tied to world events.

The recovering world economy has helped boost demand, but other factors have also contributed.

An earthquake in Chile had a noticeable effect on that country’s pulp industry, and increasing demand in China has made Maine’s pulp more valuable.

It all translates to more work and more economic activity in Maine.

Another important sector of Maine’s economy has also seen exports increase over last year.

According to the Maine International Trade Center, semiconductor exports are up 23 percent.

This high-tech industry is very important to our State.

So when we talk about the economy, the conversation too often ends at Maine’s borders.

As MaineBiz wrote, our state is tied to global markets. A tug in one corner of the world will make ripples in Maine.

We have to take a broader view and be proactive in our efforts to expand trade opportunities for Maine companies and to attract investment into our State.

In June, I announced a new initiative to attract more foreign direct investment in Maine.

In partnership with the private sector, the effort will focus on attracting investments in Maine’s renewable energy and advanced materials fields.

The work will be done by the Maine International Trade Center and was made possible by a cooperative effort between the Department of Economic Development and a private company in Monmouth, Maine, named Tex Tech.

Under the corporate leadership of Ciaran Lynch, Tex Tech has become a valuable corporate citizen in Maine and is working with us to expose new investors to the benefits our State has to offer.

The initiative also builds upon the successful trade mission I led last year to Germany and Spain that reinforced to the world that Maine is a good place to invest in the energy sector.

So far, less than a year after the trip, companies that participated in the European Energy Mission and trade shows in Vietnam, Dubai and Germany reported more than $23 million in export sales – which is an all-time record.

Last year was tough all the way around, and exports certainly suffered. But our State has tremendous potential now that the world economy is slowly recovering.

Maine has a well-earned reputation for quality, integrity and a highly skilled workforce. That’s an advantage that can pay off for our State.

We’re also working hard to make sure Maine is competitive for new companies looking to get off the ground here.

CB Insights is a New York-based firm that tracks state-run innovation grant programs, which help to support start-up companies.

According to its research, in the last five quarters Maine has made more investments in early-stage innovative companies than any other state.

The success has been attributed to the Maine Technology Institute, which works to spark entrepreneurship, create jobs and increase economic development in partnership with the Department of Economic Development.

This past year, MTI awarded $930,000 in seed grants and another $3.7 million in development awards.

These grants are going to innovative companies in Maine that are working on cutting-edge technologies and creating good-paying jobs here in our State.

Since 1999, MTI has provided funding for almost 1,300 projects, leveraging more than $183 million in matching investment.

For every dollar MTI funds, it attracts more than $14.

That’s a smart investment that was made possible by the voters of Maine supporting a bond initiative to establish it.

Whether it’s working to expand exports, attracting investment into Maine, or supporting homegrown economic development, our State has never lost its focus on creating good jobs for our people.

That work was made harder by the recession, but Maine is blessed with innovative thinkers, good products and a great workforce. With the right support, their potential is unlimited – both here at home and beyond our borders.

Thank you and have a nice weekend.

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The Power to Do the Right Thing

August 21, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Next week, I’ll be traveling to Eastport to visit Ocean Renewable Power Company.

The company is operating the largest ocean energy “power plant” ever installed in U.S. waters.

The prototype machinery produces grid-compatible power from the tidal currents in Cobscook Bay.

Ocean Renewable Power Company is partnering with the University of Maine and has received significant support from the federal government to continue its work.

The tests that are now being conducted will lead to the installation of commercial tidal power generation in Eastport next year.

Maine’s efforts to build new industries based on renewable power are meeting with great success.

Whether it’s the development of onshore or offshore wind energy, tidal or hydropower or capitalizing on our vast forest resources to produce bio-fuels, Maine is leading the way toward a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.

Despite the great progress that we’ve made, everyone understands that much work remains.

Maine, like the rest of the country, must reduce its dependence on costly, foreign oil.

Our economy, our industries and our wallets are at the mercy of energy producers far from Maine.

If we want to secure our manufacturing jobs, make sure families can afford to heat their homes and drive to work, we have to be willing to change.

Fortunately, Maine has tremendous potential energy resources that are cleaner and safer than the fossil fuels that we currently depend upon.

About 80 percent of Maine homes rely on heating oil to stay warm during the winter.

And the rural nature of our State means that workers spend more of their hard-earned money for gas just to get to their jobs.

Those facts are undeniable.

It’s not enough to bemoan our predicament.

We have it within our power to change things.

For example, onshore and offshore wind power have the potential to produce large amounts of affordable electricity right here in Maine, reducing costs and growing jobs.

In the spring of 2007, the writing was on the wall.

Maine’s laws were badly outdated, inadequate to address our State’s potential to produce wind energy.

I formed a Task Force that worked for nearly a year to craft recommendations to improve the situation.

The diverse group included environmentalists, energy experts, generators and legislators on both sides of the aisle.

Through an open and exhaustive process, the group came up with a plan, which was eventually adopted unanimously by the Maine Legislature.

That law has led to the safe, predictable and appropriate development of new wind power production in Maine.

But the Task Force wasn’t solely concerned with growing wind power. The members were dedicated to finding a framework that allowed for development while also protecting Maine’s treasured and unique scenic and natural resources.

In addition, the Task Force developed regulations that take into account public health and safety, and put into place rules that strengthen the oversight of wind power developments.

As the days of $4 a gallon gasoline have faded from our memory, and the effects of the global recession have reduced the demand for oil and natural gas, bashing wind power has come into vogue for some folks.

They are willing to do and say whatever is necessary to keep Maine from taking control of its energy future and transitioning from our deep dependency on fossil fuels.

I take comfort, however, knowing that vast majority of Mainers – more than 80 percent according to some studies – support our State’s efforts to charter a new and more sustainable energy future.

Curing our addiction to oil can’t happen overnight.

It takes a long-term commitment and a comprehensive approach that includes many components.

Maine is recognized nationally for our energy conservation and weatherization work. With each passing day, we are making more homes and businesses energy efficient.

That saves money and it saves jobs.

In addition, we’re continuing to work on bio-fuels and bio-mass electricity generation, the development of tidal, solar and hydropower, and other innovative ways to produce renewable energy.

No source of energy is perfect.

Coal, oil and nuclear power all bring tremendous challenges, many of which have never been appropriately addressed.

In that context, wind, tidal and bio-mass energy compare very favorably.

Maine is heading in the right direction.

We are growing our new, clean-energy industries in our State, which are creating real benefits for workers, families and communities.

But our work has not ended.

Just as we needed to modernize our approach to renewable energy back in 2008, the process to refine and improve continues.

In Maine, our political process is very open and accessible.

Lawmakers listen to their constituents and work to put the best interest of the State ahead of politics.

So as new technologies develop and new information becomes available, the way we approach energy projects will evolve and get stronger.

But this I know for certain: If we are committed to a robust economy, cleaner air and water, and greater national security, we must support the development of homegrown, renewable sources of energy.

If we turn our back on opportunity, the price will be high for future generations.

Time and time again, Mainers have shown that they can find the truth and make smart decisions even when confronted with complicated issues and misinformation.

I know that they’re going to do that again, and will lead our State down the road to greater prosperity and energy independence.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Public Service

August 28, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

For the past several weeks, members of the Maine Legislature have been meeting in committees to consider nominations to a number of important state boards and commissions.

The men and women of the Senate and the House of Representatives reviewed credentials, asked tough questions and made their recommendations for the Senate, which voted on Wednesday to confirm more than 70 nominees.

I’m always impressed by the willingness of Mainers to serve.

The Legislature is a fine example. These men and women receive very little compensation for what is technically a part-time job.

It’s not.

To serve in the Legislature requires a strong commitment to the State, long hours, time away from family and hard work, all for little pay. It’s a full-time job and then some.

And during this summer session, these men and women came to Augusta to consider the qualifications of a host of citizen volunteers, most willing to serve their communities for little or no compensation.

These folks help small businesses to succeed, protect our environment, lead our universities and community colleges, make sure our elections are fair, mediate disputes and help government to run smoothly and efficiently.

These boards and commissions that do important work for our State.

They draw on the expertise that exists in our communities, and they help to ensure that Maine government never gets too far from the people.

They help to set standards for professional conduct and ensure that Mainers have access to legal services.

They help to manage the Turnpike, to redevelop the former Loring Air Force Base and the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

They help our agricultural community, to protect our quality of place and to improve the rules that govern new development.

Their experiences help policymakers to set the right course for public education and higher education.

And they help to hold down the cost of Workers’ Compensation Insurance while also protecting folks who get hurt on the job.

In many cases, the work is controversial or complex, requiring long hours of study and preparation.

And there are few thank yous when the job is done.

But the Maine ethic of public service starts early, and is one of the cornerstones of our State.

Last week, I helped to recognize nearly 40 students who participated in the Maine State Government Summer Internship Program.

This program is administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. The program places students from around the State into government agencies.

While there, these students do important and wide-ranging work that includes research, planning and analysis.

These young men and women have made incredible contributions to their State, while also learning about government and the things that government does.

They helped to protect watersheds and provide education opportunities to students.

They were policy planners and conducted research on business start-ups.

They helped with public information, recycling and keeping our forests healthy.

These interns did good work.

And then I think about the nine-year-old girl I met earlier this month.

Her name is Reilly Gilliland, and she lives in Parsonsfield.

Reilly sold snacks and lemonade from a roadside stand and donated the money to the State to help improve school bus safety.

Her hard work and her efforts to make sure other school children are safe are inspiring.

It’s gratifying to see a new generation of Mainer’s answer the call for public service and doing good work in their communities.

Whether it’s serving in the Legislature, as a member of an important board or commission, working as a summer intern or running a lemonade stand for a good cause, Mainers show everyday that they are committed to their State.

From the college students helping to make our government stronger to the men and women who give their time and energy to serve Maine, our citizens demonstrate over and over again that our government is truly by the people and for the people.

The foundation of a healthy democracy is citizen participation.

And I’m glad to say that in Maine, our democracy is strong because of the men and woman who put themselves forward, take a stand and make a difference for their neighbors, their communities and our State.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Public Service

End of Summer Reflections

September 4, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

First, I want to take a moment to thank the emergency personnel – local, county, state and federal – who have coordinated the response to Hurricane Earl.

Mainers know from our harsh winter storms that we must always be vigilant in preparing for emergencies.

Our emergency officials have been working for more than a week with other public and private entities to ensure that Maine people stay safe.

And it makes all the difference.

You know, these are the signs of the changing season are all around us.

Labor Day weekend is the traditional end of summer:

School buses and classrooms are full with eager young students.

Apple picking season has begun and other fall crops are becoming more visible at farmers’ markets.

Summer merchandise is replaced by Halloween and autumn decorations on store shelves.

And businesses that count on the strength of the tourism season are tallying up how they fared this summer season.

Tourism remains our State’s number one industry.

Though numbers are still being compiled, anecdotal evidence shows that this was a good summer season for Maine’s tourism industry.

By accounts from the Maine Innkeepers Association and the Maine Campground Owners Association, the warm and dry summer encouraged large numbers of overnight visitors to our State.

It’s no wonder why Maine businesses were able to take advantage of the weather and price-conscious consumers.

People are in search of good value for their dollars during these tough economic times.

And Maine offers something for all travelers – from a wide range of recreation, cultural and shopping opportunities to high quality arts and community events.

Our agricultural fairs, music and arts festivals, and scenic towns and wilderness will always be a draw.

Maine’s tourism economy is built on our strongest selling point, though: the Maine workforce.

Among our greatest treasures are the people behind the counters, in the dining rooms and the outdoors – those are the people who help make Maine the welcoming place it is.

It is our people that solidify Maine’s reputation as a destination state and keep people coming back year after year.

Our brand of delivering the highest level of service is not limited to our tourism industry, of course.

So as we look to the new school year, teachers are preparing lessons plans and readying classrooms.

We all remember those teachers who played a pivotal role in our lives.

They were the ones who made lessons jump off textbook pages, who inspired us, and who challenged us to do better and live up to our promise.

Our State has great teachers and great schools.

As classes begin, we should take the time to recognize teachers for the important work they do, and for the role they have in shaping our State’s future.

Make no mistake: the job of a teaching is challenging. Much is required of them.

I know this because my wife, the First Lady, is an educator.

Like many other teachers, she has spent long hours in the classroom before and after students leave.

And just as many other teachers do every evening, she has dedicated more long hours at home preparing plans for the next day and grading papers.

Most teachers do what they love do because they love the work they do, because they know the importance of their jobs and they care for the students and the communities they serve.

Whether we have children in elementary, high school or post-secondary schools, all Mainers are reminded this beginning of the school year that we must give our students the tools to help them succeed later in life.

Our state’s future depends on a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce.

That’s why we’ve placed an emphasis in Maine on pre-K through post-secondary education and on restructuring school administration so that more resources remain in the classroom.

We are also working to implement national Common Core standards.

And the First Lady – as Chair of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet - has led a number of innovations in education that will help kids be better prepared for their lives after graduation.

The Educare Center in Waterville is a good example.

A public-private partnership spearheaded by the First Lady and made possible through seed funds from Doris Buffett and the Alfond Foundation.

Educare will improve early childhood education in every part of the state.

The Waterville Educare center that opens this month is the first site to open in Maine and is the first in New England.

The Educare Center will serve as a model site for childcare and education, will offer professional development and training and serve as a resource center for child care professionals across the state.

Educare teachers will be focusing on engaging infants and toddlers.

Student teachers and providers will be learning best-practices and bringing those skills back to communities throughout our State.

All Maine children, regardless of income levels, will benefit by entering school - ready to learn, thrive and succeed.

As Governor, I wish all children, their families, educators, school administrators and staff a safe and successful school year.

Thank you and have a good Labor Day weekend.

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End of Summer Reflections

Never Forgetting and Being Prepared

September 11, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Nine years ago, America suffered the worst terrorist attack in the history of our country.

Nearly 3,000 people – from all over the world – were killed when mass murderers hijacked four jetliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

I know I don’t need to retell the details.

We all remember them clearly and painfully.

The scars from that day – and from the terrible events that they set into motion – may never completely heal.

More than 400 first responders gave their lives on that day.

Firefighters, police officers and paramedics rushed in, risking their own lives trying to save the lives of people they’d never even met.

On United Airlines 93, passengers and crew realized what was happening and mounted the first counter-attack of the day, saving untold lives through their courage and bravery.

The consequences of that terrible day are still being felt.

Nearly 6,000 U.S. military families have lost a son or daughter, father or mother, uncle or cousin in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The sacrifices of the brave men and women who serve in the military and their families continue today.

They are stationed far from home and the comforts we all take for granted.

They are among our best and brightest, and they deserve our support while they serve and when they come home.

September 11th, 2001, changed our world and our country.

In the nine years since then, we have avoided another attack.

But one of the key reasons and lessons learned that day is that we must remain vigilant and be prepared to respond.

September is National Preparedness Month.

For the past five years, we have made a special commitment during the month of September to remind Mainers and the people who visit our State about the importance of being ready in the event disaster strikes.

While September 11th was a man-made disaster, born in the minds of murderers, every year Maine faces the potential for severe storms, floods, heavy snow, freezing temperatures and other dangerous situations.

No one can predict and prevent every calamity, but we can all be prepared in case something does happen.

On the National and State level, we have implemented improved coordination, communication and cooperation.

We can more quickly share information and resources among neighboring states and across borders.

Earlier this year we saw an example of those cross-border efforts.

There was a bomb scare on a bus from Maine that stopped in New Hampshire.

From the earliest moments, my office was in contact with Governor Lynch and law enforcement in our State was working with their New Hampshire and federal counterparts.

Fortunately, there was no bomb and no one was injured or harmed.

The folks at the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the State Police, local and State emergency responders and our federal partners are poised to take action to stop an incident before it happens and to respond if something does happen.

Just last week, we saw our communities pull together in preparation for Hurricane Earl.

Resources were prepositioned. Lines of communication were open. The public was kept informed.

Eventually, Earl moved past Maine without causing significant damage.

But when it comes to pubic health and safety, we can never be too careful.

And on September 11th, thousands of people stepped forward to do what they could to help.

They stood in line to donate blood, sent money, held food drives, reached out to neighbors and strangers to offer help.

During Maine’s infamous Ice Storm, the spirit of community responsibility and looking out for one another helped to protect lives and property.

So whether it’s responding to floods in Aroostook or York counties, to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Mainers never hesitate to lend a helping hand.

So on the anniversary of that awful, awful day nine years ago, I cannot help but to remember the loss of life and the destruction.

But I also remember the unity and purpose that possessed our country. The coming together. And the strength of our people.

It is that knowledge that inspires me, even when our politics seem so divided.

Because I know that our State and our country can overcome any crisis, can rise up above any division, and can overcome any challenge.

During this special weekend of remembrance, I hope you all will join me in recognizing not just the tragedy of September 11th, but also the courage and conviction that was demonstrated on that day and every day since.

Thank you for listening on this special weekend.

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Helping Maine Businesses Compete Globally

September 18, 2010

This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this week I addressed two of Maine’s regional chambers of commerce: the Southern Midcoast Chamber of Commerce and the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce.

It’s important to recognize Maine businesses – both large and small - for what they do every day to keep the Maine economic engine working.

And for all the support they give to the communities where they play such a critical role.

These are difficult times in our state and our nation, and Maine business owners feel that every day as they look at their bottom lines and work with their employees and customers.

National numbers show that the economy is still in a precarious position.

Indicators are mixed.

People’s confidence is still lagging, meaning that we have a long way to go to recovery.

That’s why the State’s been focused on improving our business climate and providing incentives for expanding the economy.

We have been working with Maine businesses and specifically partnering with the Maine State Chamber of Commerce to improve our outreach and existing programs, and innovating to lay a foundation for future growth.

We are providing the tools to innovators and businesses so that they can succeed.

Maine has been cited as a national leader by The National Economic Council and Fortune Magazine for doing what regional economies need to do to create sustainable growth and quality jobs.

And Maine is a national leader in creating clean energy jobs.

This is important for our State.

We are seeking to grow traditional industries and develop groundbreaking technologies.

Continuing workforce and economic development in ocean renewable energy development can play a key role in economic growth here for generations to come.

According to the PEW Charitable Trust, from 1998 to 2007, Maine green jobs grew by 22.7 percent compared to 9.1 percent nationally.

We are on the cusp of being worldwide leaders in offshore energy development.

Maine also leads the nation in investments in early-stage, innovative companies - as noted by CB Insights.

Portland earned the 5th highest ranking in the country for best place to launch a small business – according to portfolio.com.

So the State is working with our regional partners to aggressively reinvigorate the economy.

We expanded the successful Pine Tree Economic Development Zone program – as an invaluable investment tool administered by the Maine Department of Economic Development.

To date, 309 companies have located to Maine or expanded their businesses in Maine.

These companies have committed to more than $800 million in investments and over $300 million in payroll representing over 8000 jobs.

These are largely manufacturing jobs that are good paying and which will have a ripple impact on the entire economy of the region.

So our goal is to bring opportunity to all residents and all businesses throughout the State.

But there’s more we can and must do, and we are aggressively working with private businesses, the Maine Chamber and other partners to improve business climate and increase those investments.

We’ve been targeting foreign direct investment with the help of the Maine International Trade Center and the Maine Department of Economic Development and others.

We recently announced this Invest in Maine initiative, which will attract new investments into our State.

Attracting businesses to come back to Maine from overseas.

From the Jobs Summit held earlier this year with the Maine Chamber, we heard how crucial it is to continually develop our workforce and to ensure easier access for Maine businesses to all the statewide programs and incentives that are designed to help them succeed.

As a result of that summit, the Maine Chamber and my office have been offering a series of regional networking forums for business leaders throughout the State.

We’re also making the Maine Department of Economic Development a One-Stop-Shop for businesses to help them to navigate through State programs and incentives.

We recognize that not every area of Maine needs or wants the same kind of development.

That is why I’ve charged the Department with coordinating and empowering regions so that they can further economic development in ways that makes sense.

This encourages economic development from the ground-up, not top-down.

And the State is partnering with the Chamber on an initiative we’ll be jointly announcing that targets our students and their future opportunities in Maine.

We will enable Maine students to see the opportunities that are here in the State once they graduate.

And they’ll be able to gain valuable experience on the job.

It is important for our State to do this.

And we want our talent, our youth, our future, our workforce to get a high quality education and training and to keep their talents here in Maine.

We want to all Maine businesses and Maine people to have the tools to help them thrive for years to come.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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Educare and Early Childhood

September 25, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this month, children returned to class to begin a new school year.

It’s always an exciting time for the students and their families even if it is accompanied by the end of the summer.

For kindergartners, it’s a time of first bus rides, new friends, new schools and, for many, the beginning of a formal education.

Unfortunately, some of our children arrive for the first day of kindergarten needing extra help.

They aren’t prepared to learn.

Children come from challenged homes that are at particular risk.

They are less likely to have access to quality early childhood programs than their more affluent classmates.

And they are more likely to underachieve, not meeting their fullest potential and requiring special attention or remediation.

Starting this year, we’re taking a new approach to making things better.

New England’s first Educare Center opened this month in Waterville and began welcoming new pre-school students. On Monday, we’ll celebrate the achievement with a formal ribbon cutting.

Educare is a unique partnership between state and local government and the private sector that takes a comprehensive approach to helping children and families get ready for school.

The Center’s highest priority is to help at-risk students be prepared for success.

We all know that parents are essential partners in their children’s education.

Educare combines a high-quality educational environment with family support designed to improve health, self-sufficiency and well-being.

Waterville’s Educare Center will be of particular help for families who are making the transition from welfare to work.

These working parents will know that their young children are safe and being cared for.

While the Center is located in Central Maine, its impact will be felt statewide.

It will be a demonstration site for the rest of Maine, putting the best early childhood research to work while also helping the professional development of teachers and childcare workers around the State.

Families making their way out of poverty can only do so with the support of quality early intervention and care for their young children.

Without the advantages that many of us take for granted, these kids start out behind and have a difficult time catching up.

Our public school system works hard to help, but Maine has limited resources and the costs for services that are sometimes needed are high.

Early intervention is the key for success.

Research tells us that 85 percent of brain development occurs by the time a child turns 3.

And 90 percent of brain development occurs by the time a child enters kindergarten.

It’s during these first years of rapid development and growth where public investment pays the greatest dividend.

While Educare has the potential to save the Waterville School District millions of dollars in special education costs, the Center is funded completely through existing resources and private donations.

With the generous support of Doris Buffett, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, Gates Foundation and the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation, Educare has become a reality for Central Maine.

In addition, Educare brings together Waterville Public Schools and the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program and several agencies within State government to provide integrated and ongoing support to the program and the families it serves.

If we want our children to be healthy, happy and successful, we have to start early.

I’m proud of Maine’s Educare Center and the promise it holds to help children get ready for school, create life-long learners and provide new opportunities for families to be successful.

Educare wouldn’t have become a reality without the dedication and commitment of many people who have worked tirelessly on the project.

First Lady Karin Baldacci and members of the Educare Advisory Committee helped to open our eyes to the possibilities of a new approach to early childhood education.

Together with countless supporters in Waterville, around the State, in the Maine Legislature, and within the Departments of Human Services and Education, Maine has taken an important step in improving the lives of children and their families.

I believe that Maine’s two most important assets are our children and our natural resources.

We have to nurture and protect both.

Educare will help to ensure that our children have the very best chance of success in kindergarten and throughout their education.

A good start can make all the difference.

Thank you for listening and have a nice weekend.

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Educare and Early Childhood

Governor's Weekly Radio Address: Gateway Bridges

October 9, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Like many good neighbors, Maine and New Hampshire have a healthy rivalry, especially when it comes to football and hockey.

But when were talking about regional issues that affect our people and our economy, the rivalry ends and we work closely together.

This week I visited Kittery, Maine, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where I met with New Hampshire Governor John Lynch.

The purpose of our meeting was to discuss the future of the three bridges that cross the Piscataqua River, connecting Maine and New Hampshire.

These connections our vital to the economy of both of our states.

The Memorial Bridge fosters the close relationship between Kittery and Portsmouth, creating jobs and supporting businesses on both sides of the river.

The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, or the Middle Bridge, carries important commercial traffic that benefits the economy of the entire region. It also services the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which employs more than 4,000 people.

And the Interstate 95 over the Piscataqua River brings millions of visitors every year and is the major commercial artery for goods and freight coming in and out of our State.

The three bridges are the gateway to Maine for much of the country.

Fir the health of our transportation system, and these crossings are critical to Maine’s economy.

While these bridges are located in York County, their importance reaches every corner of the State.

Unfortunately, both the Memorial Bridge and the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge are nearing the end of their useful lives.

The Memorial Bridge must be replaced and the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge needs significant repair and may ultimately need to be replaced.

The I-95 Bridge is in good condition, but requires annual maintenance and upkeep.

Maine and New Hampshire jointly own the three bridges, and the total cost over the next several years for necessary work could approach between $200 million and $300 million.

Funding those projects will take a special commitment from Maine and New Hampshire, innovative thinking and support from the federal government.

In August, I supported New Hampshire’s application for a significant federal grant to help fund the replacement of the Memorial Bridge.

I recognize how important the Memorial Bridge is to Kittery and Portsmouth.

The replacement of the bridge has to be part of any plan that I would support.

It’s in the interest of both of our states to work together to find the best way to finance the work that needs to be done to improve and maintain these critical transportation links.

Both Governor Lynch and I are committed to identifying a cooperative and cost-effective solution to address all three bridges for the short-term and for the long-term.

You know it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about the bridges as a problem to be fixed once. Maybe once every 100 years.

In reality, we need to identify ways to rebuild and repair the crossings and maintain them well into the future.

In 2008, I took an aggressive approach to bridge reconstruction, repair and maintenance in Maine.

After the collapse of the Interstate 35 Bridge in Minneapolis, I developed a plan that would invest $160 million over four years in bridges in addition to the $70 million per year in our annual bridge program.

At the time, we had tentatively planned to invest $20 million each in the Memorial Bridge and the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, with work beginning perhaps as soon as next summer.

But recent bridge inspections show these bridges today are in much worse shape than we anticipated earlier and the costs are much higher.

Across the county, states are grappling with the problem of aging bridges. Maine has more than 2,700 bridges. Of those, more than 200 are 80 years old or older.

Over the next 10 years, we estimate that Maine will need between $1.6 billion and $1.8 billion in total bridge funding.

Under any circumstances, that would be a challenge. But it’s made even more difficult by the lingering effects of this terrible recession.

When we met on Tuesday, Governor Lynch and I created the Bi-State Funding Task Force.

The group is charged with developing funding options to address the three bridges today and to maintain them into the future.

The Task Force will report back to us in December with recommendations that I will present to the next governor and the next Legislature.

This is an important step as we continue our cooperation to meet our transportation needs and enable our economies to thrive.

I know everyone on both sides of our southern border would like a quick and easy solution.

But there isn’t one.

That’s why the work of the Task Force is so important.

The economies of both states depend on our ability to maintain these critical routes into the future.

We must replace the Memorial Bridge and secure the long-term health of the Sarah Mildred Long and I-95 bridges.

I am confident that by working with New Hampshire and the federal government we can find an approach that keeps the gateway to Maine open for years to come.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

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Audio of Governor's Radio Address

A Familiar Theme

October 16, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

This week in the Wall Street Journal, four governors from around the country wrote about things they have done to help their states cope with the recession.

Two Democrats and two Republicans provided brief outlines of their efforts.

The themes were very similar. And very familiar.

From Pennsylvania, Governor Rendell talked about his efforts to streamline state government and make it more efficient.

He talked about consolidation of state agencies, purchasing in bulk, and asking state workers to take increased responsibility for their health care by participating in a wellness program and contributing to the cost of their health insurance.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about pension costs and holding the line on taxes.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick focused on a smaller state workforce, consolidation of state agencies and smart investments.

And from Virginia, Governor McDonnell put his emphasis on smaller government and consolidation, hiring freezes and pension reform, which included requiring state workers to contribute to their pension system.

All four governors talked about cutting spending.

If it sounds like you’ve heard these ideas before, it’s because you have.

In Maine, we’ve been doing these things for the last eight years.

My administration began to make the push to reduce the size of government before our country was hit by recession.

We consolidated two Health and Human Services departments into a single agency – reducing the workforce by 300 -- brought all of information technology under one roof and brought new discipline to purchasing.

Overall we’ve reduced the size of state government by about 1,000 positions and imposed a hiring freeze that has helped balance the State budget.

We’ve consolidated the administration of school districts and created a combined county-state correction system that is saving taxpayer dollars at the state and the local level.

State workers are also doing their share. They contribute to the pension system and pay a portion of the premiums for their health insurance. And they’ve taken reduced pay through shutdown days.

As the Bangor Daily News wrote this week, there’s a myth that government spending in Maine continues to grow recklessly.

It’s not the case.

Maine’s budget for 2011 is the same as it was in 2001.

Let me repeat that: Maine’s budget for 2011 is the same level as it was in 2001.

And actual state spending has decreased every year since 2008 as we have closed the revenue gap created by the global recession.

So at a time that we’ve cut spending, we’ve maintained our commitment to education, innovation and growing the economy.

We’ve squeezed spending across state government to maximize the resources we can use to protect our core values of a quality education system, a just and justifiable safety net and strong public health and safety.

And we did it without raising broad-based taxes. In fact, Maine’s overall tax burden has actually declined. It hasn’t gone down by as much as I would like, but it has gone down.

But what does all this mean?

It means that our discipline has helped to set the stage for economic recovery.

Maine finished last year with revenues performing ahead of projections, allowing us to rebuild our reserves to $50 million dollars while also making payments to our retiree pension system and business support programs.

And through the end of September of this year, the first quarter, revenues are also out performing projections by $26.3 million dollars.

While there are still too many people without work, Maine’s unemployment level is lower than the national average.

And new companies are investing in Maine because they know our State has an unmatched workforce and a high quality of life.

Whether it’s the purchase of the Domtar mill in Washington County, which helped secure 300 jobs, Kestrel Aircraft, which will bring high-tech jobs to Brunswick or the expansion of companies like Idexx, Maine is an attractive place to live, work and raise your family.

And our potential for future growth is tremendous.

We are on the verge of a new energy era, where Maine will be a leader in the production of renewable energy, including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower.

And Central Maine Power recently broke ground on a $1.4 billion dollar investment in Maine that will create 2,000 construction jobs a year for the next four years and will improve our energy infrastructure for a generation.

While the there are positive signs for the economy, there’s no question that Maine still faces many difficult decisions.

The work to balance spending with revenue will continue;

Maine must continue to control tax burdens while investing in economic growth;

And we must take care of our children and our most vulnerable citizens without jeopardizing sound fiscal policy;

It requires an honest conversation and good-faith effort to make the right choices for Maine.

And the ability to adapt to quickly changing circumstances.

With consecutive bipartisan budgets – even during some of the worst economic times in a generation – Maine has consistently shown that the ideal of public service and servants, compromise and collaboration still exists.

If we can continue to talk with one another, accept good ideas no matter the source and protect the things that make Maine special, our State will recover from this recession.

Our people will have better opportunities.

And our economy will be stronger.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

Related Documents

A Familiar Theme

Working on the Railroad

October 23, 2010

Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

When I talk to business leaders around the State, the two biggest concerns that they have are the cost of energy and the cost of transportation.

And the two are related.

During my eight years, we have been aggressive in our efforts to reduce energy costs and explore new, homegrown alternatives.

We’ve also focused on improving our transportation network, making it more secure and efficient.

For many industries, including Maine’s important wood products, paper and agricultural industries, freight rail is often the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to bring raw materials into their factories and ship their products out.

Early this spring, the privately owned Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway began proceedings to abandon about 233 miles of track in Aroostook and Penobscot counties.

The move sent a wave of uncertainty through Aroostook and its largest employers.

Without the rail line, between 750 and 1,000 jobs would be threatened, and entire communities would be put at risk.

We couldn’t allow those tracks to be pulled from the ground and sold for scrap.

They are too impor