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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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