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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.

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