Governor John E. Baldacci Delivers State of the State Address
By Ramona du Houx
March 10th, 2009
AUGUSTA – MARCH 10, 2009
Governor John E. Baldacci delivered his annual State of the State Address this evening before a Joint Session of the 124th Maine Legislature.
In his speech, the Governor outlined his vision for building Maine’s economic foundation during this difficult global recession. He noted that Maine’s strengths, especially its people and natural resources, put the State in a unique position in this time in history. Opportunities exist within the areas of energy, health care and education, if the right investments are made now. Building off of the federal Recovery Act, these investments will create jobs and strengthen our economy.
The Governor highlighted a number of initiatives.
Energy – Aggressive plan to weatherize all Maine homes and half of Maine businesses in 20 years and put a Weatherization Corps of young workers in place this summer to work on energy rated projects. Invest in diverse, renewable energy resources to build our portfolio of clean, renewable energy. Improve Maine’s electrical grid and transmission corridors to better link Maine to New Brunswick and New England.
Health Care – Establish a Universal Wellness program and create a pilot program based on patient-centered primary care delivery. With State and Federal matching dollars, provide more than $370 million new dollars to Maine’s hospitals. Enhance ability for unemployed workers to temporarily access more affordable health insurance. Use Recovery funds to help launch two medical schools, one partnered with Maine Medical Center and one with Eastern Maine Medical Center.
Education – Expand laptop program so that youth in grades 7 through 12 have laptops in school. The laptops will be loaded with software to connect Maine families with the State’s CareerCenters, making the laptops a tool for the entire family. Advance a joint University of Maine and Southern Maine Community College center for advanced technology and engineering campus at Brunswick Naval Air Station.
The Governor also reiterated the necessity for the bond package that he unveiled last week. Examples of critical investments include the engineering campus, energy independence, clean water, Land for Maine’s Future and improvements in infrastructure. Governor Baldacci said that the time is right to make investments that will build on the federal Recovery Act and help Maine create jobs while laying a solid foundation for economic growth.
The text of the State of the State:
State of the State
Governor John Elias Baldacci
7 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 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 will actually be smaller than its predecessor.
This budget is prudent, and the reductions are necessary.
My plan protects our safety net, while calling on everyone in the State to adopt a sense of shared sacrifice.
We all must do our part to get through this difficult time.
The symptoms of today’s economic crisis are not unique to Maine, although we can surely feel them.
Our country – the entire world – is struggling under the weight of the same burdens.
But our strengths are undeniable, and we will not be deterred.
It may be dark right now, but we are not lost in the night.
We are not afraid of shadows or the empty noises that haunt children’s dreams.
The dawn of a new economic day in Maine is not here yet. But it is coming. We know the direction to look.
Because the sun rises first in Maine.
We have a plan.
There is a path to take. We know what we must do.
Just three short weeks ago the President signed an unprecedented economic recovery plan into law.
This much needed federal support will send about $900 million new dollars to Maine, to build roads, repair bridges, to help people stay well and to create jobs.
We have already started putting that money to work, and combined with our existing highway plan for this spring, summer and fall,
we will put 11,000 people on the job in our State just in the area of transportation.
Thousands more jobs will be preserved at our schools, in our hospitals and as we advance toward new innovations and energy independence.
Without the hard work of Rep. Mike Michaud and Rep. Chellie Pingree, and the courage of Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins, this great opportunity for reinvestment would have been lost.
I spoke with Sen. Snowe and Sen. Collins during the most difficult hours of negotiations. They put aside empty partisanship and stood up for Maine and the nation.
With a new federal wind at our back, we have an unmatched opportunity to transform our State.
Last week, I proposed a three-year, $306 million dollar investment that will create jobs and strengthen our economy.
My plan makes critical investments in energy independence, highways and bridges.
It further develops passenger and freight rail, and invests in clean water and healthy communities.
And it will build our intellectual capacity by supporting higher education and innovation.
In addition, the plan will leverage more than $380 million dollars from other sources, putting nearly $700 million new dollars to work in Maine.
I understand that folks are nervous and that some might question the wisdom of borrowing right now, even for worthy projects.
Our State has always been conservative with bonds. We don’t borrow more than we can afford, and we don’t extend ourselves beyond good sense. We pay our bonds back in just 10 years, while most take 20 years or longer.
That makes now the time to invest.
There is no excuse for inaction.
We need to put people to work and help them gain the skills to be successful.
Maine has been a leader in putting technology to work in the classroom. We are going to revamp our laptop program and turn it into a powerful tool for the entire family.
The Department of Education and the Department of Labor will work to make sure every one of those computers has software preloaded to connect Maine families with the services available at our State’s CareerCenters.
Every night when students in seventh through 12th-grade bring those computers home, they’ll connect the whole family to new opportunities and new resources.
Just as the path forward requires us to make smart investments, it also requires that we break the bad habits of the past.
We cannot afford to back-track on important reforms that have driven government at all levels to be more efficient.
Change is always difficult, and it’s easy to understand why some find comfort in the status quo.
But business as usual doesn’t work anymore.
We must continue forward with the reform of K-12 administration. We can not allow Maine to be dragged backwards by a referendum that seeks a return to the expensive past.
The way forward – the way to protect local schools and resources for the classroom – is to stop wasting money on unnecessary bureaucracies and administrations.
We must continue to push for more effective and efficient government here in Augusta, in our counties, and at town and city halls across the State.
An excellent example is our new Board of Corrections, which is for the first time coordinating the work of 15 county jails and the state prisons.
It’s been hard work, with a few bumps along the way, but we see progress every day. I am confident the Board will make our corrections system more affordable, while providing better results for communities and our people.
And we know there are more savings to be had by keeping our eyes on efficiency.
This summer, I asked the internationally respected business consulting group, McKinsey and Company, for a data-driven evaluation of our State.
We learned that Maine can save at least $180 million more dollars over three years by improving the way we do business.
How do we do it?
We must be willing to reform now.
Whether it’s by combining State agencies, eliminating unnecessary regulations, or holding the line on taxes, we must maintain our fiscal vigilance and question the way every tax dollar is spent.
Today, Maine’s government is smaller and more effective than at any time in recent memory. Since 2002, the number of State workers has been cut by more than 700 as we have learned to do more with less.
That is a stern necessity we face.
But smaller government doesn’t mean we settle for less effective government.
Let me give you an example. In Child Welfare, we have worked with families, schools and communities to reduce the number of children in foster care by one-third and to double the percentage of children placed with relatives and families
Government gets smaller, and children are healthier and happier.
Creative partnerships also give us the opportunity to stretch limited resources.
This year, Fairpoint Communications joined Maine’s business community.
Gene Johnson, the company’s president, brought with him to Maine a commitment to our State, to expand broadband statewide and to help us grow our economy. So far, the company has added more than 440 workers to its payroll in Maine.
Now the company will join with the State to form a new partnership that will help to refocus our economic development activities.
Simply put, we too often react to the crisis of the day instead of preparing and executing a comprehensive development strategy.
Our approach will help regions identify their best assets and develop plans to build upon them.
It’s economic development from the ground up, instead of the top down.
And we will combine economic development with Quality of Place.
Quality of Place is shorthand for those things that we all treasure, that make Maine special, that keep us all coming home and draw visitors from around the world.
It’s our coastline, still dotted with working waterfronts. Our clean, deep lakes and fresh air. It’s our vast and healthy forests.
We have artificially separated economic development from the characteristics of our State that make it so attractive in the first place.
Occasionally, we’ve allowed an unnecessary competition to grow between economic development and Quality of Place.
But they don’t compete; they must be tied together to be successful.
That’s why I propose that we will continue to invest money to preserve Maine’s unique heritage by continuing the Land for Maine’s
Future and Working Waterfront programs.
This will help to preserve open access to some of our most scenic areas, help farmers and fishermen stay on the job, and safeguard our forests and protect our forest products industry with a sustainable fiber supply.
Maine is a special place, and we need to protect it.
Even before health care money from the Recovery Act began to come to Maine, I worked with the Legislature to set out clear rules for how the money could be used.
First and foremost, we must balance our budget and take care of the people who need our help the most.
Second, we will meet our obligations to Maine hospitals. In 2006, I signed a commitment to the hospitals that Maine would pay down its debt. With State and Federal matching dollars, we will provide more than $370 million new dollars to Maine’s hospitals this year.
This money will save jobs and make sure that important health programs, especially in rural communities, continue.
There are 39 hospitals in Maine, employing more than 22,000 people from Fort Kent to Kittery and everywhere in between. They do a great job, and this will make them stronger.
Maine has been a national leader in providing health care coverage for our people. We have been committed to making health care more affordable and expanding access.
We have had success, and our rate of uninsured ranks among the best five states in the country.
Yet, a terrible side effect of rising unemployment is that more and more people are losing their health insurance because it was
provided by their employer.
Just when folks need health care security the most, they see it slip away.
As part of his Recovery Act, the President has included provisions that make insurance more affordable for people who lose coverage when they lose their job.
Unfortunately, for too many people even the new expanded option falls short.
In the coming days, I will submit a proposal using Recovery funds that will create a voucher system for newly unemployed workers who need additional help keeping their health insurance.
The vouchers will help the newly unemployed buy private health insurance or help them enroll in a temporary, affordable health plan.
The program will be limited and last only as long as the federal program it’s meant to complement.
It’s a one-time program, using one-time money.
As Washington works on national health care reform, we will continue to blaze a trail here in Maine.
Good health takes more than an insurance card. It requires all of us to be as healthy as we can be – preventing diseases that drive up our health care costs.
Health care premiums are growing four times faster than wages. The costs are straining family and business budgets.
Chronic illness, like diabetes, asthma, heart and lung diseases, account for about 30 percent of premium costs or about $350 million dollars a year in Maine.
That’s spending on poor health that in most cases is preventable.
Tonight, I am announcing Maine’s Universal Wellness program. It will help every Mainer know, understand and take action to reduce health risks and prevent disease. And it does it within existing resources.
Beginning in July, our statewide system of Healthy Maine Partnerships will offer free, confidential risk reviews and link people to local resources that can help them improve their health and prevent disease.
This is a long-term strategy that arms Mainers with the information they need to be healthier.
We also know that good health requires having enough high quality doctors and health care providers available when you need them.
Doctors and nurses are the lifeblood of good health, and Maine doesn’t have enough of them.
I propose using $3.5 million dollars in one-time Recovery funds to help launch two innovative medical schools that will train the doctors we need in Maine.
Tufts University will partner with Maine Medical Center;
And the University of Vermont will partner with Eastern Maine Medical Center and the University of Maine to create medical schools in our State, so doctors can finish their training right here.
We aren’t building new buildings.
Instead, we will provide needed scholarships for Maine residents to support their medical education at Maine Medical Center, Eastern
Maine Medical Center or the University of New England.
Research shows that doctors tend to settle near the hospitals where they complete their training. And I know that given the chance young doctors will stay in Maine.
Finally, we will work with Maine’s medical community to change the way we provide primary health care.
Today, patients and doctors are overbooked into crazy schedules where they might get as little as 10 minutes together during an office visit. Our current system pays for sickness, not for keeping people well.
It doesn’t make any sense.
That’s why I propose using $500,000 dollars of Recovery funds for a pilot project designed to change the way we deliver primary care.
We will test a system with 15 medical practices that allows teams of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to concentrate on keeping you well – not just waiting for you to get sick.
They’ll work to keep you at home and out of the hospital.
We have an opportunity to transform health care in Maine, and make it more affordable and more patient-centered.
That’s a goal we all share.
For nearly 30 years, I have been involved in public service, for the last six years as Governor. During that time, I have had the privilege to work with many dedicated people.
But I have never known a stronger advocate for Maine’s children than the First Lady.
Karen has elevated the efforts of Maine Reads, created the Festival of the Book, and has been instrumental in bringing the first-in-New-England Educare Center to Waterville, which will break ground in June and help establish best practices for early childhood teaching.
She is tireless, and an inspiration, who keeps us all grounded in what’s most important.
Karen is here tonight with our son, Jack.
Could you both stand and receive the greetings of the Chamber?
This summer, we received an unwelcome reminder of how dependent our State is on costly, imported oil.
In a short time, prices more than doubled for gasoline, diesel and heating oil.
We were on the verge of a crisis.
Truckers, fishermen and just about everyone else felt the weight of high energy costs.
We immediately began planning for an emergency. We knew then, and we know now, that if heating oil prices are $4 dollars and 50 cents a gallon, many people would struggle just to make it through Maine’s long winter.
There are many factors that have contributed to the current recession.
Poor decisions on Wall Street and in Washington; an economy dependent on easy credit; and a lack of government oversight all played a part.
But the high cost of energy is one of the biggest factors.
I’m concerned that we might forget the role high oil prices played in our current economic troubles and underestimate how quickly prices can rise again.
We’ve been through energy crunches before.
But time and time again, as prices stabilized we returned to our old habits.
Not this time.
For too long our economy has been held hostage by imported, foreign oil.
It’s jeopardized our national security, and has left us at the mercy of markets and foreign powers over which we have little control.
In July, 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 the energy bill for families.
We put technology to work, streaming live video to classrooms across the State, so we could expand training for homeowners and professionals so they can get the information they need to reduce energy consumption.
We put all of our energy resources within reach of a single telephone call. One call to 2-1-1 will put you in touch with a person who can help.
We distributed more than 300,000 do-it-yourself brochures that include easy-to-do tips to reduce energy consumption.
And you raised more than $1 million dollars through the Keep Maine Warm Fund to help folks make it through the heating season.
Thank you to those who gave.
Much has been accomplished, but we must do more. Prices will go back up, and we can’t sit and wait for it to happen.
We must transform our State.
We will become more energy efficient;
We will invest in clean, renewable sources of power;
We will build a better electric grid that is more reliable and capable of connecting Maine and all of the Northeast to new sources of electricity;
We will empower workers to do the high-tech green jobs that our new economy will demand.
And we will invest in a smarter transportation system that can move goods and people more cheaply and efficiently.
Our efforts start with energy conservation and weatherization, where we’ve already made a good start.
We will leverage funding from the President’s Recovery Act, and we’ll expand the reach of our efforts.
I will introduce the Maine Energy Independence Act, which will re-invent the way we manage our State energy programs, and put all of our efforts under one roof so they are more closely coordinated and integrated.
We will set aggressive goals to weatherize every home in Maine and half of all of our businesses in the next 20 years.
We know that we need to make energy upgrades as easy as possible. With this plan, there will be one place that individuals, families and businesses can go to get help with all of their energy efficiency needs.
My approach will build upon the strengths of our current programs, but will also energize new partnerships to accomplish our goals.
Tonight I am announcing a new collaboration between the State and Maine banks and credit unions that will simplify the way people accomplish home energy improvements.
The program uses State loan guarantees to access up to $100 million dollars of private capital.
It will help thaw our frozen credit market and make it possible for homeowners to invest in energy upgrades.
In one simple process, you’ll be able to save money on your mortgage by refinancing, improve your home’s value, and cut utility bills.
And we’ll provide direct support, through our State Energy Plan, for subsidized energy audits and other incentives to help businesses make improvements.
The Recovery Act includes $32 million dollars to weatherize homes for low-income families, and we’re adding access to another $100 million for middle-class families.
We’ll multiply our current weatherization efforts by 20 times.
I’m talking about a massive infusion of new resources to fix people’s homes and improve their lives.
The dividends for Maine are huge. We’ll send fewer energy dollars out of State, we’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we’ll create thousands of jobs for Maine workers.
In addition to creating new jobs, we must ensure that Maine workers are prepared to fill them.
We will combine the efforts of the Department of Labor, Maine State Housing, the Public Utilities Commission and our universities and community colleges to create a green-collar workforce that is second to none.
This summer Maine will have its own Weatherization Corps of young workers, who will learn important life and job skills right on the job.
A joint program between the Department of Labor, Jobs for Maine Graduates, local CAP agencies and Maine Housing will train about 100 students to work on energy related projects.
These young people will have the opportunity to learn about energy efficiency and home weatherization while working to make their
State a better place to live. And they’ll do it while earning a paycheck.
It’s a good program that will help young workers and help us meet our energy goals.
My energy plan also invests in the growth of Maine-based renewable energy resources.
When Maine was at the peak of its economic strength, our industries were able to harness the power of our rivers and the resources in our forests to produce cheap electricity.
Those resources drove Maine’s industrial revolution. And those same renewable resources can power a new revolution for our State.
Already, we have reduced the regulatory barriers for the development of onshore wind power, and we have an Ocean Energy Task
Force working right now to do the same thing for resources that exist off our coast.
The group is developing legislation that will greatly advance renewable energy projects off the coast of Maine.
And I propose $7.5 million dollars for a Maine Marine Wind Energy Fund that will support the development of the premier offshore testing site for wind energy for the country.
This is a tremendous opportunity to become one of only three test sites in the country.
Success will make Maine a hub for the manufacturing and research industries that will drive energy production for the next generation.
We don’t have oil or natural gas reserves in Maine, but we are rich in the resources that can take their place. We have two of the largest operating wind farms in New England, and billions of dollars in proposed projects on the way.
Turbines placed off Maine’s coast have the potential to produce more than 133 gigawatts of electricity from wind alone. That’s as much electricity as 40 nuclear power plants can produce.
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.
And that’s just the beginning. As my Wood-to-Energy Task Force demonstrated, Maine has great energy reserves in our forests.
Whether it’s through wood pellets in homes and businesses or biomass electric generation, we have great options for diversifying our energy consumption.
SAD 58 Superintendent Quentin Clark has put this type of innovative thinking to work in his school system. Instead of relying on oil from 8,000 miles away, he is heating one school with pellets made in Franklin County, just eight miles away. He’s looking to expand the program to all the schools in his district.
And a facility in Strong will provide the pellets.
Quentin is creating opportunities by being smart about energy.
Solar, hydroelectric and the potential for pumped storage round out our impressive energy mix.
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.
As anyone in real estate can tell you, the three most important assets you can have are location, location and location.
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, and stabilizes and reduces the cost of electricity for Maine.
But if we want to capitalize on our advantages, we must be aggressive.
As we transition our economy from oil and utilize more electricity for our energy needs, we must strengthen and improve our electrical grid.
That means more reliable transmission and greater capacity to handle the new energy resources that are being developed.
Consider the Maine Power Reliability Project, proposed by Central Maine Power. This upgrade of our existing grid has the potential to pump $1.5 billion dollars into our State’s economy and create more than 2,000 jobs over four years.
That translates into more than $240 million dollars in new wages and salaries.
In addition, we need to connect Aroostook County’s electric grid to the rest of Maine and New England. We can’t continue with part of our State isolated from the rest.
And while we need to be able to move quickly to review new projects when they are proposed, that doesn’t mean relaxing our standards. Every project must be judged on its details and must be right for Maine.
But we must move forward.
We also must rethink the assets we have, and put them to the most efficient use.
Right now in Maine, we have transportation corridors that run the length of our State.
We need to transform them into much more.
Today I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bangor Hydro to explore the potential use of the right-of-way that exists along our interstates and roads for new, underground transmission lines.
Instead of a transmission company negotiating with hundreds of individual landowners and communities, they can utilize right-of-ways that already exist. There’s less impact on the environment and less impact on people.
Transportation corridors will become commerce corridors.
The idea also has the potential to speed an exciting proposal currently under consideration.
Bangor Hydro’s Northeast Energy Link, which would run from Orrington to Boston, has the potential to inject $2 billion dollars into Maine for the construction of a new transmission line that would move eleven hundred megawatts of clean, renewable electricity.
The line would support the growth of vast wind resources and help to drive down the prices for electricity in Maine and throughout the region.
We are also investigating the potential for second energy corridor that would run between Maine and New Brunswick.
Our shared objective with New Brunswick is to increase the long-term supply of secure, reliable and clean energy to our region. The work will also include the accelerated development of renewable power and an improved grid in Maine.
These commerce corridors would house appropriate projects, generating tens of millions of dollars each year in new revenue for the State.
Those resources would be used to meet our weatherization and energy efficiency goals, to invest in top quality energy research and other State priorities, including tax relief.
And the corridors would make it quicker and easier for major projects to get started, putting people to work faster.
A third possible transmission line is being discussed at part of the plans for pump storage in Wiscasset.
Riverbank Power wants to spend about $1 billion dollar to construct an underground hydro generation facility in Wiscasset.
The facility would then be connected to Boston by a proposed $1 billion dollar underwater transmission line.
With just a small handful of projects, Maine has the potential to benefit from more than $5 billion dollars of direct, private-sector
And if we meet our stated goal of developing 3,000 megawatts of wind power, Maine will see an additional $7.5 billion dollars of energy investment.
At stake are thousands of jobs, new economic development, and millions of dollars of potential revenues for the State that can support our priorities.
When it comes to energy, Maine and New Brunswick have a close and necessary relationship. We have to work together, and that means making compromises for our better energy future on both sides of the border.
As we move forward with new and exciting energy partnerships, it is critical that the Canadian government support our efforts to bring new, liquefied natural gas terminals to Washington County.
LNG has an important role to play as Maine transitions from oil to renewables, and the proposed terminals in Washington County give economic hope to a region that needs new industry.
All of these projects will create thousands of good-paying, private-sector jobs in Maine just when we need them the most.
To capitalize on these new jobs and to build the industries of the 21st Century, Maine must invest in education, innovation, and research and development.
A generation ago, a high school diploma opened the door to a good job that could last a lifetime. That’s not true anymore. Success today depends on a college education.
That’s why I propose significant investments in Maine’s institutions of higher learning so they can serve more students and make energy efficient improvements that will save money that can be put toward the classroom.
That’s why I propose an advanced technology and engineering campus as part of our redevelopment plans for Brunswick Naval Air Station.
The center will bring together the University of Maine and Southern Maine Community College in a joint venture that will support the economic development of the Midcoast while also training students for the good jobs of the future.
This collaboration between the university and community college should be a model for greater cooperation between our institutions of higher learning.
We need to break down the walls that separate the systems and instead build bridges for greater efficiencies.
There’s great potential for working together and saving money. And that means more resources for students and teachers.
Tonight as we examine the State of our State, I want to take a few moments to thank the men and women of the Maine National Guard, who every day make us proud, whether it’s serving in Iraq or Afghanistan or responding to an emergency right here at home.
Right now, we have 15 members of the Guard serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and hundreds more preparing for deployment later this month and early next year.
All of these brave men and women are close to our hearts even when they are many miles from home.
We pray for their safety, and offer our sincere gratitude for their service.
In closing, I would like to return to Governor Brann, who served our State during the worst of economic times.
He said: “Maine women and Maine men have never faltered in the crisis. The ruggedness and stern grandeur of our land are reflected in the character of our people. The future of Maine has always been safe in the hands of its sons and daughters, and never more so than today.”
Now in 2009, we have within reach the power to shape our own future, to write the next chapter in this Great State’s story.
When our grandchildren and their children look back, I want them to see in us a generation that answered the call, that transformed
Our way forward is not just about energy. Or a cleaner environment, or even the jobs we’ll create today, although all those things are important.
What I’m talking about is a new economy, one that’s built to succeed in a rapidly changing world. But it’s an economy that will rely upon those same Maine traits that have served us so well: Honesty, Integrity, Quality, Pride and Workmanship. Maine Built is Best Built.
There’s a new era of opportunity and prosperity on the horizon. We will get there together.