Tue, 03 Feb 2015 19:48:44 ESTThe following is text as prepared of Governor Paul R. LePage's 2015 State of the State Address Chief Justice Saufley, President Thibodeau, Speaker Eves, members of the 127th Legislature, distinguished guests, and fellow Mainers.Tonight, I am here to update you, the people of Maine, about the condition of our great state.First, I must recognize my wife, Ann. I would not be here tonight without you. You have made Maine proud as our First Lady, especially through your support of our armed services and their families.To my family and friends, I appreciate all you have done-and all you continue to do-to support me.Staff Sergeant Sarah Cayia, the military herald this evening, thank you for your courageous service to our state and nation.I ask that we all take a moment to remember, recognize and thank our men and women in uniform.I would like to make a very important announcement. I am the only Republican that will not be running for President - yet.I became Governor for one simple reason. I want prosperity-not poverty-for all Maine people.Doing "business as usual" hurts our ability to be competitive. It favors poverty and prevents prosperity. Mainers, it's time to innovate. We need an efficient, effective and affordable government. But change is hard. It's much easier to protect the status quo.Studies sit on shelves, collecting dust. Politicians talk about tax reform every year. Nothing meaningful gets done.We must make hard decisions today so we can have prosperity tomorrow for our future generations.I made hard decisions all my life-the necessary decisions to help companies grow and expand.I was a mayor. I understand the needs versus the wants for municipalities.As Governor, I've listened to Mainers. They want to succeed and prosper.My budget takes bold action. It is the first step-a big leap forward. Friends, I can't do it alone. I need your help. We must do it together.The Maine people want results, not rhetoric. They want action!TAX REFORMWashington, D.C. is broken. Our future depends now more than ever on the states. They are the 50 laboratories of democracy.Our country has the highest income taxes in the world. This makes our nation uncompetitive.Maine is currently not competitive nationally or globally. Our tax system is antiquated. We must modernize it.My fellow Mainers, you work hard for your paycheck. The government takes your earnings, and you have no control over how it is spent.You earned it. You should keep it!An income tax cut puts money back in your pocket. It is a pay raise for all working Mainers.With consumption taxes, you make the choice. You decide where you spend your money. And let me be clear: this plan does not tax funerals. It does not tax car repairs. It does not tax groceries or other necessities.My plan makes sure more taxes are paid by tourists - not by Mainers. Approximately 650,000 Maine tax returns pay the income tax.On the other hand, 29 million tourists a year pay sales taxes on almost every purchase they make.Our refundable sales tax credit helps lower- and middle-income Mainers get their money back.This plan is different from past plans. It is not a tax shift. It is a tax cut for all Mainers.My vision is a Maine with no income tax. But I'm no magician. It takes time.When I took office, Maine's top income tax rate was 8.5 percent-one of the highest in the nation. We reduced the rate to 7.95 percent-a baby step. This plan cuts it to 5.75 percent-a 40 percent decrease in the income tax since I took office. That's one big step.A young married couple, both teachers with one child, claiming a standard deduction, would get a $1,500 pay raise.That's a mortgage payment. That's few tanks of heating oil. It's several car payments or back-to-school clothes for the kids. It's real money. It makes a real difference.Other tax reform plans were "revenue neutral." They were created by politicians to serve special interests. My one special interest is the Maine people.My plan cuts spending. It gives money back to you: the Maine people.This plan reduces the tax burden on Maine families and small businesses b[...]
Wed, 07 Jan 2015 13:25:04 ESTMr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the 127th Legislature and honored guests. Welcome.First, I must thank Ann and my children for their love and support during the last four years and particularly through the recent campaign, which was very negative. I'm so proud of their strength and resilience through it all.I'm especially proud of Ann, who has dedicated so much to the veterans of our state over the past four years. However, I hope she doesn't jump out of any more planes! Je dois aussi remercier mon collègue Franco Américans pour leur soutien. Je suis un enfant des rues du petit Canada, je n'ai jamais imaginé qu'un jour, je deviendrais votre gouverneur. Mais à vous prendre en charge, nous l'avons fait. J'ai jamais oublier où je venais, et je n'oublierai jamais votre soutien indéfectible. Merci beaucoup mais aimee.Well, folks, we're back. The national experts and the media said we wouldn't be here today. They forgot to ask those who matter most: the Maine people.Pundits and pollsters don't determine why a person should be Governor. The people do.For four years, we have been taking our message directly to the people of Maine. We let our actions speak for themselves.That's what the people want: action. They are so tired of politicians preaching to the people and not listening to the people. They promise one thing, then do another.That's not who we are.We said we were going to pay the hospitals, and we did. We paid hospitals $750 million in welfare debt.We said we were going to lower taxes, and we did. We passed the largest tax cut in Maine's history.We said we were going to help private businesses create jobs, and we did. State government is no longer an adversary against business, but a partner with the private sector.We made Maine "Open for Business."Private-sector companies have created more than 20,000 jobs. And there are almost 7,000 jobs at the CareerCenter that still need to be filled.If you want a job, you can get it. But our work is far from complete!WELFARE REFORM Most importantly, we said we were going to reform welfare, and we are. So far, we have cut the welfare rolls in half. We stopped the growth of Medicaid.We went after fraud and abuse. We put photos on EBT cards. We put more money toward nursing homes.We are using the savings from our welfare reforms to take care of our elderly, disabled and mentally ill.We are transitioning people off welfare and into productive jobs. The Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Labor and Veterans Services have teamed up to create an innovative program called "Welfare to Work."More than 1,200 Mainers who were on welfare are now working full-time.No more welfare handouts.We will give them skills, training and jobs. We want them to know prosperity, not poverty.We are making progress in reforming our welfare system. But we are just getting started.MAKING MAINE COMPETTIVE The people of Maine told us they want us to keep reforming government. They want better jobs.They want welfare reform. They want lower energy costs. They want lower taxes.They want good roads and bridges, and they want a smaller, more affordable government.Mainers work hard. They have common sense. They know what it means to pay the bills. They want their piece of the American Dream. We won't rest until every man, woman and child in Maine gets their chance to achieve prosperity, not poverty.Mainers deserve career jobs with higher pay and good benefits. We must attract new business to Maine and help our existing companies to grow and expand.We don't have to reinvent the wheel. Other states are growing and expanding. We can do what they are doing. We can make Maine competitive.TAX REFORM States with the fastest growth have the lowest tax burdens and the lowest energy costs. That's not a coincidence.We need good-paying jobs that encourage young people and families to stay in Maine. To create these jobs, Maine must be competitive with other states.Companies want to come to low-tax states, and so do young families. Once they get here, we must keep them here[...]
Wed, 05 Feb 2014 09:47:33 ESTChief Justice Saufley, members of the 126th Legislature, distinguished guests, and my fellow citizens:Tonight, I am here to update you, the people of Maine, about the condition of our great state.First, I must recognize a few individuals. To my lovely wife Ann and children-please stand-I would not be here tonight without you. Ann, you have made Maine proud as our First Lady.Staff Sergeant Douglas Connolly, the military herald this evening, thank you for your courageous service to our state and nation.As we thank our men and women in uniform, we are reminded of those who are not with us. Bill Knight greeted thousands of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at Bangor International Airport. A World War II veteran, Bill was part of the Greatest Generation. He died on Christmas Day at age 91. He made greeting the troops his life's most important duty.Another veteran who is not here tonight is someone many in this chamber know and respect. Michael Cianchette, who was my chief legal counsel, is now deployed to Afghanistan.Mike is truly one of Maine's best and brightest, and we send him our best wishes for a safe return home. Mike's lovely wife, Michelle, is here with us tonight. Michelle, please stand.Our administration is working hard so young Mainers like Mike and Michelle can continue to live and work in our state. We want our young families to enjoy a growing economy that allows them to prosper and succeed.Mainers are a breed apart. Many of us value our individuality. We work hard. We take care of each other.I love my state. I am proud to call myself a Mainer. I want every Mainer to succeed and prosper. But Maine is at a crossroads. We have huge challenges.Higher taxes and bloated government have not improved our lives. Higher energy costs have not attracted major investments to Maine. More welfare has not led to prosperity. It has not broken the cycle of generational poverty.We cannot return to the same failed policies of the past 40 years. We are better than that. We must be bold. We must have the courage to make the tough decisions.We can do better. We will do better.JOBS/ECONOMYWe must keep our young people in Maine. Recently, I asked some Bowdoin College students, "What can we do to keep you here?" One of them was Grégoire Faucher from Madawaska. He is eager to hear what the future of Maine holds for him. Comment ça va, Gregoire? Ca me fait plasir de vous avoir ici ce soir.Unfortunately, Gregoire hears more about job prospects in Boston or New York or even New Hampshire than right here in Maine. He wants to stay in Maine. But he may have to leave to find higher-paying jobs and better opportunities.Greg and his classmates are the kind of young people we need to grow our state's economy. We must create a business climate that encourages investment that will employ Maine people.Recruiting job creators to come to Maine is not easy. The global competition is fierce. Investment capital goes where it is welcomed and stays where it is appreciated.As Winston Churchill said: "Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon."Since we took office, we have made Maine more competitive. Maine's unemployment rate has fallen to 6.2%. It's the lowest since 2008. Almost 13,000 new private-sector jobs have been created since we took office. We reduced bureaucratic red tape. We cut the automatic increase to the gas tax. We eliminated almost $2 billion in pension debt. We right-sized government. We found efficiencies within state agencies. My proudest achievement: paying $750 million in welfare debt to Maine's hospitals. It sent the message that, in Maine, we pay our bills.Because of our efforts, good-paying jobs are being created all over the state. In Portland, the Eimskip shipping service. In Wilton, Barclaycards. In Brunswick, Tempus Jets. In Nashville Plantation, Irving Forest Products. More jobs hav[...]
Tue, 05 Feb 2013 20:00:47 EST"Chief Justice Saufley, President Alfond, Speaker Eves, members of the 126th Legislature, distinguished guests, and my fellow citizens. Tonight, I am here to update you, the people of Maine, about the condition of our great state. First, I must recognize and thank a few individuals. To my wife Ann, Ann please stand, I would not be here tonight without you. You have made Maine proud as our First Lady, especially through your support of our armed services and their families.To my family and friends, I appreciate all you have done, your unwavering support, and all you continue to do throughout my life's journey.Staff Sergeant Justin Middleton, the military herald this evening, thank you for your courageous service to our state and nation.Members of our military and veterans that are here tonight, please stand.We salute you and extend our sincerest appreciation to each and every one of you for your service in keeping a safe and free people.In the balcony, you'll notice an empty chair next to our uniformed service members. This chair represents every Mainer who is serving overseas, in harm's way, so we can be here tonight and exercise our freedom to assemble and our freedom to speak.I ask that we all take a moment to remember, recognize and thank our men and women in uniform.Recently, Ann and I had the opportunity to go down to Arlington National Cemetery during the Wreaths Across America trip.As I walked through rows and rows of tombstones, marking the final resting place of our fallen American heroes, I remembered one simple truth: These individuals paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure future generations had the opportunity to pursue their piece of the American Dream. It is a dream we cherish and the freedom that marks our lives is so rare for the rest of the world. The American experience represents a unique moment in time. We must not abandon it!If each and every one of our elected officials visited Arlington, they might realize the political battles we wage are meaningless in comparison to the blood that's been shed to protect our American Dream. We all recognize that the political climate in Washington D.C. is toxic. With no solutions in sight, the Federal debt grows at such a pace that many of us question how the American Dream will ultimately survive for our children and grandchildren to experience. We owe it to each and every one of our fallen heroes, as elected officials, to come together and develop solutions to our challenges. We must commit to make our state a better place to live and raise our families. There is no more important thing in most of our lives than our families. Maine families are struggling. With a median household income of just under $48,000, Maine families survive on far less money than those in other states. Maine families struggle to heat their homes, fill their cars with gasoline, put food on the table, and pay for health insurance. Government has not strengthened Maine families with more income, opportunity, or reducing the cost of living. Instead government has taken more and more of our family's hard working income away to serve some people's political and/or financial self interests. The path forward offers two choices. We continue to accept the status quo or we can make the tough decisions to create a better Maine for everyone.We can only do this if we work together. Every Mainer deserves the opportunity to pursue the American Dream.Recognizing our AccomplishmentsLast session, we took steps to improve our economy. We provided Mainers the LARGEST TAX CUT in history in a bipartisan effort.Despite rhetoric to the contrary: 70,000 working Maine families no longer pay state income tax.Two thirds of all taxpayers are receiving tax relief, easing the burden on middle class Maine families. The average Maine family is receiving a $300 tax decrease. A 28% reduction in their state income tax. We also reduced taxes for Maine's job creators. A critical step to attracting investment in Maine. Unfo[...]
Tue, 11 Dec 2012 16:10:04 ESTGovernor Paul R. LePage commemorated Hanukkah in Maine with a celebration and menorah lighting today at the State House. The lighting took place on the second floor of the State House in the Hall of Flags outside the Office of the Governor.
Tue, 11 Dec 2012 16:08:30 ESTOn Monday, Governor Paul R. LePage joined members of the Maine Funeral Directors Association (MFDA) and their families and friends to help kick off the 2012 Wreaths Across America (WAA) campaign. The WAA State House Ceremony included a Wreath Laying Ceremony in the Hall of Flags at noon. The annual event helps to promote a week-long celebration of America's veterans and their service to country.
Wed, 25 Jan 2012 10:21:15 ESTGovernor LePage 2012 State of the State AddressPresident Raye, Speaker Nutting, Chief Justice Saufley, members of the 125th Legislature, distinguished guests, and my fellow citizens. I am here tonight to update the Legislature on the condition of our great state. However, before I begin, I want to recognize and thank a few people.First and foremost, I want to thank my wife Ann, and family who have been so supportive, I appreciate all you have done and continue to do. Master Sergeant Chad E. Smith, the Military Herald this evening, thank you for your courageous service to our great state and nation.I would also like to recognize and thank Major Mark Stevens. Next month Major Stevens will be leading his soldiers to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, for their 3rd deployment in the Middle East in support of this great country. Not only is Major Mark Stevens the commander of the unit, but he is also the marketing manager of a business in Southern Maine. Major Stevens is a true citizen soldier. Major, thank you for your service, we wish you and your unit God speed. RECOGNIZING OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS I am pleased to report that in the last year, we have taken a right turn on the road to economic recovery.In a bipartisan effort we passed the largest tax cut in state history for hardworking, Maine taxpayers. Not only did we cut the top rate for individuals; we are supporting working low income Maine people by ensuring seventy thousand Maine families will no longer pay state income tax, until they earn higher incomes. That is a real helping hand to put them on the road to self-sufficiency and prosperity. Some claim our tax cuts are tax cuts for the rich. In Maine the top income tax rate kicks in at an income of under $20,000 dollars per person. Let me tell you this, no matter what anybody says - $20,000 dollars is not rich.Two thirds of Maine's hardworking taxpayers will receive tax relief next year. Maine families will have more money for heating oil, for groceries, and gas for their vehicle. This was not an easy task. I thank the Legislature for their efforts in focusing on making our state a more prosperous home for all Mainers, and for helping us put Maine people before politics. Just one year ago my administration faced a $4.1 billion dollar shortfall in the pension system. Together, we eliminated over $1.7 billion dollars of pension debt on the books, 45% of the existing pension shortfall, while protecting retirees' future pensions through sensible reforms. You can't pay a pension with an I.O.U.In other areas, Maine state government has a new attitude. With the leadership of Senator Garrett Mason, Maine became the 41st state in the union to adopt charter school legislation. In addition to passing charter school legislation, my last budget increased general purpose aid to K-12 education by $63 million. As promised throughout my campaign, a 5-year cap was placed on welfare benefits. Workers' compensation insurance premiums are down 7%. Unemployment is also down, and lower than the national average.Maine's Department of Transportation under the superb leadership of Commissioner David Bernhardt saved more than $100 million dollars, without sacrificing our infrastructure improvements. Red tape was reduced. We are not here to tell Maine job creators what they can't do; we are here to help them find out what they can do.Providing superior customer service to all Mainers is the first job of state government. We are changing the culture of state agencies from "NO" to "CAN DO." Together, these things add up to one reality: Maine is Open for Business. And the word is getting out.During 2011, we heard from dozens of businesses who have pledged investments in Maine totaling $100 million dollars, with plans to create over 1,000 new, good paying jobs. In this last year, we have not only reopened businesses, but have brought back American jobs from overs[...]
Wed, 02 Mar 2011 12:53:47 ESTTestimony of Maine Governor Paul LePage Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations March 2, 2011
Fri, 11 Feb 2011 08:50:17 ESTFY 2012 / 2013 Biennial Budget Address Maine Governor Paul R. LePage - February 10, 2011 President Raye, Speaker Nutting, members of the 125th Legislature, and citizens of Maine, thank you for the invitation to discuss our budget submission for the 2012 / 2013 Biennium. It takes a great deal of work to prepare a budget - especially for a newly elected Governor. I would like to begin by commending my transition budget team led by Sawin Millett and Tarren Bragdon for all their hard work. Volunteers all, they gave us great ideas and a great head start. I would also like to offer a special thanks to Ryan Low for temporarily joining our budget team. Ryan's professionalism and dedication to public service is an example for all. I must also compliment the 125th Legislature for the professional and bipartisan work that went into enacting the Supplemental Budget. Representative Flood, Senator Rosen and the entire Appropriations Committee have my thanks for a job well done. I also want to thank Speaker Nutting, President Raye, Representative Cain and Senator Hobbins for their leadership. I would welcome the same result with my biennial budget. INTRODUCTION Our 2012 / 2013 biennial budget is a jobs bill. It sets us on a path to keeping more money in the private sector and ends the expectation that every available resource should be devoted to funding the operations of state, county and community government. Our budget includes long term reforms that will make our state pension system and workforce more affordable. It increases aid to education and allows for transportation investments without adding to our debt burden. And this budget encourages hard work and independence through needed welfare reforms and tax cuts for Maine's small businesses and working families. REFORM THE BUDGET PROCESS Our budget was written without consideration for political interests or special favors. It makes tough choices and puts people first. But it could have been more comprehensive if we had the time to conduct oversight and make informed decisions about the performance of state programs and agencies. Our budget is being made available on the 37th day of my term. Given the logistics of drafting and printing the document, all of the major decisions were made before I was in office a month and before most of my commissioners were confirmed. Fifty members of the House and five Senators have no prior Legislative experience. Collectively you represent well over a third of Maine's population and today is the 14th session day since you took office. Every committee chair, member of leadership and presiding officer is also new to his or her post. We should ALL be spending our first year on oversight and decision making. Every agency, program and service ought to start at zero and justify their objectives and practices. And before a budget is drafted, suggestions for improvement should be considered. Because baseline budgeting and assumed increases are the norm, every biennial budget since 1992 but one has started with a deficit. There is not a business, municipality, hospital or nonprofit that would willingly flirt with insolvency every budget cycle the way state government does. We need to change the process. Representative Ayotte has sponsored legislation, An Act to Establish a New Method of Determining the State Budget, starting the fiscal biennium in the second regular session of the Legislature. The bill is cosponsored by President Raye, Representatives Cain and Curtis as well as Senators Rosen and Sherman. Representative Ayotte's proposal would give all of us the time we need to conduct oversight and work with the agencies to set priorities. I strongly support the bill and would sign it right now if we could pass it by a show of hands. PUBLIC DEBT State government has been paying many of today's[...]
Wed, 05 Jan 2011 17:26:43 ESTMr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the 125th Legislature, Governor Baldacci, former Governors King, McKernan, Brennan and honored guests. Welcome.Mainers have a long tradition of working together.As I begin I would like to thank John Baldacci. John, Karen and his entire administration have done all we have asked to make this transition a success. Ann and I are very grateful, and we join all Mainers in thanking the Baldaccis for their service to city, state and nation.Like every proud dad and husband, I did not need to take the oath of office to believe I have Maine's first family. But now that it is official, let me thank Ann and my children for their love and support during the last 16 months.First and Foremost, I am a businessman who served his community as a Mayor and now as Governor. My pledge to the Maine People is to put you before politics:The parents trying to make a better life for their kids; The retirees trying to hold onto their homes on a fixed income;The college graduate trying to find a good paying job; The entrepreneurs with the courage to take a chance on an idea; andThe taxpayers tired of footing the bill for a bloated establishment in Augusta.It is time to make state government accountable. It is time to deliver value. It is time to put people first.The word "people," appears in the Maine Constitution 49 times. You cannot find a single mention of the words "politics," "Republican," "Democrat," "Green," or "Independent" in 37 pages of preambles, articles and sections of our State Constitution.The framers had it right. People come before politics.Partisan affiliations, political leanings and the obsession with winning and losing have been getting in the way of solving Maine problems. We need a new approach and it starts right here and right now!I am willing to listen and work constructively with anyone committed to honest solutions that benefit all Maine people.To ensure I get plenty of input, I will be hosting monthly breakfast meetings with groups of teachers, business leaders and environmental leaders. Oatmeal and solutions will be on the menu.I will re-introduce Governor McKernan's "Capitol for a day program" where town hall meetings are held in each of Maine's 16 counties. We are going to get around and learn from the people of Maine.I will host constituent service hours to meet directly with the people of Maine. Come in and share your concerns, tell me about your ideas and, if we disagree, we can look for common ground so we can move Maine forward.While I will listen to anyone, my Administration will be focused on making Maine work for everyone. There will be no favorites, carve outs, or favors for the special interests. Good policy is public policy for everyone.There is no greater example of serving the common good than the sacrifice of our service men and women. The peaceful transfer of power, our rights and our liberties are not free. They are earned each and every day by those who serve.Forty-Six service members from Maine have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our state and our nation in the last seven years.I am honored that some of the families of our fallen heroes are here today.Dan and Suzanne Brochu along with their daughter Sadie are with us. They lost Private First Class Jordan Brochu in Afghanistan in August of 2009.Starting tomorrow, Suzanne will be the receptionist in my office at the State House.The family of Corporal Andrew Hutchins of New Portland is also with us.Corporal Hutchins gave his life in service to Maine and the Nation last November in Afghanistan. Corporal Hutchins' wife Heather is due to give birth to their first child, Allyssa Braelynn, in March.All of Maine shares the sorrow of the families of our fallen heroes and we all honor their service to protect our liberties.Please join me in a moment of silence to honor t[...]
Mon, 10 May 2010 10:53:16 EDTMORNING: President Kennedy, Provost Hunter, Trustee Johnson, honored guests, graduates, and family, friends and supporters:AFTERNOON: President Kennedy, Provost Hunter, Trustee Newell, honored guests, graduates, and family, friends and supporters: I am honored to be here to celebrate your graduation from the University of Maine.Like you, I'm also graduating this year.And like some of you - I bet - we will be moving back home.Life at the University of Maine and life in Augusta really aren't that different.There are cliques and fraternities, rituals, pomp and circumstance, and a bureaucracy that you have to learn to navigate.There's lots of studying, and many difficult tests.(PAUSE)And the friends you make and relationships you build last a lifetime.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, authors and actors. People who have transformed the world, and people who have transformed their neighborhoods.But time and again, 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.When I look out into this crowd, I see a bright future for Maine and the country.And I know that we will be in good hands.(PAUSE)The world you will face is much different than the one that was waiting for me when I graduated from the University of Maine.I was a non-traditional student and didn't finish my degree until I was in my early 30s.But I was a late bloomer when it came to the classroom.My world had focused on the family's restaurant, politics and the community.But it was the University of Maine that opened my mind to a wider world, where I learned history and a broader point of view.I will be forever grateful for the friends I made, the professors who were mentors and for the love and support of my family that made the experience possible.(PAUSE)As a country, we have thrived during good times. And survived the down times.And we have learned hard lessons from the bubbles, the bailouts and the Wall Street bandits.Old dangers of Mutual Assured Destruction have given way to dirty bombs and terrorism.We live in a much smaller place, connected 24-hours a day, 7 days a week by smart phones, Twitter and Facebook.But in a world of constant communication where every detail is often shared, we don't talk to each other enough.On a national level, heated and angry political rhetoric too often replace discussions, compromise and empathy.Sure, people have plenty to say. But a lot fewer are willing to listen.They shout across TV screens at one another, reciting the day's talking points as if trying out for a play, staying true to a script that the audience doesn't want to hear.(PAUSE)I say this a lot, and it's true.In Maine, it's different.There's no question that politics can be rough and tumble, and there are real and significant differences between the political parties.But there is also a fundamental and core value that runs deeply through Maine's political leaders regardless of party affiliation.They are willing to listen and work together for solutions that put the best interest of the people ahead of short-term political gain.As Maine begins to emerge from a brutal national recession that has demanded stern action and tough choices from the President of the United States, to the Governor of Maine, to the President of the University of Maine, we have navigated our way in a spirit of honest debate and in good faith.Given the magnitude of the challenges we have faced, Maine leaders have worked in a bipartisan way to craft innovative energy policy, health care reform, balanced[...]
Thu, 21 Jan 2010 19:51:36 ESTState of the State Governor John E. Baldacci 7 p.m., Thursday, January 21, 2010 FINAL - As PreparedMadam President, Madam Speaker, Madam Chief Justice, members of the Legislature, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests and my fellow citizens: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 is 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 past to blaze a 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 our 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.As I report to you tonight on the State of the State, I am not sullen or deterred by the road ahead.Because I know beyond question or doubt that the people of this State - our greatest resource - can persevere and overcome any challenge.And they are looking to us, the men and women gathered here in this great hall of the people, to lead.To balance tough choices and compassion.To reach forward to welcome a bright future, but also to make sure opportunity doesn't leave anyone behind.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.This is our job. We are in the midst of unprecedented times.Locked in a struggle between recession and recovery.The choices we make will help to determine which way Maine goes.About a month ago, I submitted to the Legislature my plan to close a $438 million dollar shortfall in the State budget.It continues themes you've heard from me before: A leaner government, increased efficiencies and frugality.The causes of the shortfall are well-known.Our State and country are beset by a global recession that has destroyed jobs and wealth, and undermined consumer confidence.My plan includes tough choices and pain.There's no way around that hard truth.It will impact people and their communities.It won't be easy. During public hearings on the budget, we heard people talk about their economic plight.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.I am committed to maintaining life-sustaining services, but we can't avoid reductions.We must change the way we help people.And we'll continue our mission to reduce administration, so there are more dollars available for what's really important.If we can't break down the walls between State agencies to save money during this crisis, how can we tell other folks they need to go without?My budget proposal also contains new efforts to streamline government.I've suggested improving cooperation between the State's four natural resource agencies - the folks who help us manage our forests, fish, water and wild life.They have so much in common, but are artificially broken into four pieces.We can save money and improve results by helping the[...]
Tue, 24 Mar 2009 12:51:05 EDTAll of these projects will create thousands of good-paying, private-sector jobs in Maine just when we need them the most.
Wed, 11 Mar 2009 09:23:07 EDTState of the StateGovernor John Elias Baldacci7 p.m., Tuesday, March 10, 2009 Madam President, Madam Speaker, Madam Chief Justice, members of the Legislature, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests and my fellow citizens:Thank you for joining me tonight as we come together to take measure of our State.We face economic perils that will test our courage, our creativity and our resolve.We will all be called upon to make uncomfortable decisions, to do without and to do things differently.The headlines are filled with the terrible realities of the global recession.Yesterday, I visited Baileyville in Washington County.The community received rough news just last week. The Domtar pulp mill will be indefinitely shutting down in May. More than 300 people could lose their jobs.The announcement came one day after RR Donnelley in Wells announced it would close its doors in June. More than 370 jobs will be lost. Unemployment is rising. Confidence has been shaken.As I talk with the good men and women of Maine, I hear a similar question, punctuated with fear and uncertainty.People ask: Governor, is the sun rising or is the sun setting? Has our time passed, will our children struggle in the years to come?I do not know how long this recession will last, or how deep it will go.But the sun will rise on Maine, and Maine will raise herself for the United States of America.On Thursday when the news of the Domtar closure was released, I met with Legislators from Washington County, and we called County Commissioner Chris Gardner, who is also the director of the Port of Eastport.It was a tough day all around.But as we talked, Chris said something we all should take to heart. He said: "This is bad news, and we have a lot of things we must do in the coming days to prepare our community. But we also have to get started reinventing ourselves. We have opportunities."That is the spirit of Maine. We are all aware of the challenges we face. But we can adapt. We can make the necessary changes. In 1933, a newly elected Governor of Maine, Louis J. Brann, addressed the hardships of the Great Depression.He said: "Giant forces are changing the entire social, political and governmental set-up of the world." "What was clear and accepted becomes complex and bewildering.""We find ourselves squarely up against conditions, new in government, calling for clear thinking and wise action "We may be forced to part with some things that we have grown to like," Governor Brann continued. "Like one going on a long journey, we must pack only the essentials. We will have to travel light.' Today, my friends of this Legislature, the State of Maine marches along the high road of stern necessity."Now, 76 years later, our predicament demands that same clear thinking and wise action as we work to ward off a global recession. And like 1933, we must make the right choices if we are to once again prosper.In just a few short weeks, this Legislature worked with my administration to close a $140 million dollar budget gap for the current year. State revenues dropped because the economy is dropping. To balance the books, Democrats and Republicans worked together with little regard for partisanship. The steps we took to close the budget gap were tough, but the Appropriations Committee built a unanimous plan that won broad, bipartisan support.We packed a light bag for the rest of this year.Now we must move on to the budget for the next two years, and we can only afford to pack the essentials for that trip.The Legislature has just finished public hearings on the budget I submitted in January.My $6.1 billion dollar plan reduces State spending by about $200 million dollars. It's the first time since at least 1974 that the State budget[...]
Wed, 09 Jan 2008 20:46:27 ESTGovernor John E. Baldacci State of the State January 9, 2008 Madam President, Mr. Speaker, Madam Chief Justice, members of the Legislature, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests and my fellow citizens:We come together tonight as Maine stands on the verge of a new era.The choices we make in the coming days will help to define who we are as a State, and what we hope to become.I will not splash varnish on the hard truths before us.Home heating oil and gasoline prices are at record highs. Winter, just a few weeks old, has already shown its teeth.The national economy is struggling under the weight of declining home values.State revenues are not immune from the national condition and are falling short of expectations by $95 million dollars. We are forced to make hard decisions and set priorities. And we remain a country at war, with men and women called to duty in far-off and dangerous lands. Every word I have spoken is the inescapable truth. But there's more to Maine's story than those challenges we face.In the five years since I first addressed you as Governor, much has changed in Maine.Today I am proud to say that we are better prepared and more able to weather economic storms.You, my friends, have done much of the hard work. You have not only balanced budgets, and demanded efficiencies. You've also come together - often in a spirit of bipartisanship -- to solve problems.Five years ago, we faced a $1.2 billion dollar budget gap. Our financial reserves were gone.The State was borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars just to keep the lights on. Our credit rating was headed down.Those days are gone - hopefully banished forever.Today, we have rebuilt our reserves to almost $160 million dollars, and no longer take out payday loans to keep government open.We have closed that budget gap and by the end of next year we will have invested more than $1 billion new State dollars in local education.And we have done it all without raising the sales tax or income tax.I want to repeat that, because it's something the entire State should be proud of.We have invested more than $1 billion new dollars in local education, rebuilt our reserves and stopped short-term borrowing. Standard and Poor's has raised our financial rating.All without raising the sales or income tax.That, my friends, is an accomplishment.It has put us in a position of strength to deal with a fickle national economy.Tonight, standing before you and with full knowledge of the challenges we face, I report that the State of this State is strong and determined to meet the future head on.The revenue downturn we face in the two-year budget is a serious challenge that demands action.On Dec. 18, I issued an executive order that reduced State spending by $38 million dollars for the rest of this fiscal year.The Constitution of Maine requires the governor to ensure the State budget is balanced. Every part of State government was called upon to make recommendations on how to reduce spending while maintaining their core missions.I understand that these decisions touch real lives.The cuts were not easy, but we are moving forward in a way that makes sure that we can protect our most vulnerable citizens while also meeting my Constitutional duty. On that point, according to the Kaiser Foundation, Maine ranks first among the States in Medicaid spending for children, second in Medicaid spending for adults and fifth in Medicaid spending for the disabled.Overall, according to Kaiser, Maine spends more per Medicaid enrollee than any other State.So, tomorrow, when I unveil the details of my revisions to the two-year budget I can promise you this:We will not pull the safety net out from under our most vulnerable ci[...]