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Hello. This is your Governor, Paul LePage.

In 1981, our Nation faced an economic mess that we hadn’t seen the likes of since the Great Depression.

Prices were skyrocketing and unemployment was reaching intolerable levels. The culprit was a government that was too big and spent too much of your money.

To understand where government needs to go we must first understand our history; because we are repeating it.

On July 27, 1981 President Ronald Reagan addressed our Nation saying, “This is not the time for political fun and games. This is the time for a new beginning.” I agree. It is time for change.

We have lost millions of jobs, and if there is anything we’ve learned during our own Great Recession, it’s that we cannot tax and spend our way to prosperity.

I have a plan to get Maine working again. Energy and education are key factors that will help drive our economy. The best way to get people working again is to remove uncertainties facing businesses.

Energy is a major concern for companies. When we reduce energy prices in Maine we will be able to attract and retain good jobs.

Unfortunately, today we are plagued with having the 12th highest energy rates in America. We are 42% higher than the national average.

High electricity rates cost Maine people and businesses millions of dollars per year more than other states and is an impediment to economic growth and attracting private sector investment.

I will be introducing common sense reform during the upcoming session that will address this critical issue.

Maine has great opportunities as well as challenges in reducing the price of electricity and total energy costs, but improvement can be realized if we consider all forms of energy and objectively assess the potential both in the short-term as well as long-term.

In order for us to rebuild our economy, we must start with a strong foundation and that begins with investing in education.

Our biennial budget adds $63 million in new money toward state education subsidy to local schools.

But money won’t solve all of our problems. We must also be innovative and acknowledge the direction our economy is heading. That’s why we have created a high-level council devoted to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math also known as STEM education. The council will coordinate statewide efforts to improve educational practices in the STEM fields.

The fact is, at least 8 million of the jobs available to college graduates in 2018 will be in the STEM professions. However, reports show, even though nearly all sectors where job growth is occurring require a variety of STEM skills, efforts to build a STEM-skilled workforce currently fall short.

Today, nearly half of all jobs are in ― middle-skill occupations, which require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree.

These jobs frequently pay well and are expected to remain in high demand across the U.S. labor market, but too few workers now have the skills to fill them.

These jobs include electricians, plumbers, dental hygienists, machinists and welders to name a few.

We must also take a hard look at our K through 12 education system. Today, 20% of students who move on to the Maine University system need remedial coursework. 54% enrolled in community college need to retake high school classes. We are failing as an educational system when we have to teach our children twice.

This year, Maine adopted the Common Core standards in mathematics and English language arts. This effort will ensure academic standards are more relevant to the demands of college and careers today.

It’s an exciting time for Maine and a change for the better to our education system.

During the past nine months, I’ve listened to business leaders who tell me education and energy issues must be addressed in order for our economy to rebound. This week, I will invite private sector job creators to my first “Job Creation Workshop” in Portland. We’ll discuss the state of our economy and how we can turn it around.

It won’t be easy, but as President Reagan once said, “the truth is, there are simple answers, they just are not easy ones.”

It’s time government become a true servant to the people of Maine, and as your Governor, I’m willing to find the answers and make the tough decisions; because a new beginning must start somewhere.

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