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Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

When I was elected to Congress in 1994, I had a front-row seat for high stakes and heated rhetoric of a divided Washington.

Republicans were riding an electoral wave into power, and we were on the verge of a government shutdown and paralysis.

As I look to Washington today and around the country to other states, I see similar circumstances.

Democrats and Republicans are unable to work together.

In Maine, though, it’s different.

Despite the most difficult economy since the Great Depression, Democrats and Republicans have been able to put aside partisanship and work together to put Maine on the right track.

And they’ve done at a time when the odds have been stacked against them.

Every seat in the Legislature and candidates for governor will be on the ballot this fall.

State revenues have declined by more than $1 billion dollars since last year, forcing tough choices to close a budget gap.

In most places, that would be a recipe for political gamesmanship.

But not in Maine.

We have resisted temptation and found a responsible way to close a budget gap that was $438 million dollars.

Earlier this week, the Appropriations committee voted unanimously on a budget plan.

It makes important structural changes to government, which will make our State stronger in the future.

It protects the most vulnerable and maintains our core government functions.

It brings spending into line with revenues.

It begins to rebuild our reserves, so our State is better prepared for the future.

And it does it without raise taxes.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, during the current recession more than 30 States have had to raise their taxes.

Maine is different.

Under the leadership of Senator Bill Diamond, Representative Emily Cain, Senator Richard Rosen and Representative Sawin Millett, Maine has begun to lay the foundation for a strong recovery.

Together, they lead a thoughtful and responsible process that looked carefully at proposals to close the budget gap.

They put partisanship aside, and the entire committee – Democrat and Republican alike – was able to support the budget.

At times, there were disagreements. In some areas, the differences between the parties are important and real.

But through it all, the committee kept talking and kept working together.

And at the end, they had produced a plan that was better because of their efforts.

I also think it’s critical to recognize the way House and Senate leaders approached the budget.

Senate President Mitchell, Senate Leader Raye, Speaker Pingree and House Leader Tardy and the entire leadership team allowed the committee to work through the most difficult issues.

They kept an open mind and remained committed to a budget we all believe can win two-thirds support of the Legislature.

Too often in politics, it’s easier to fight than to work together.

If ever the circumstances existed for fighting to erupt, this year was it.

Instead, cooperation and bipartisanship carried the day.

Early next week, the full Legislature will consider the budget.

The plan will be before them. It strikes the right balance. It puts people first without sacrificing the opportunity for economic growth.

There are still tough cuts, and we are all required to do our part.

But the bipartisan work of the Appropriations Committee and the incredible efforts of folks like Commissioner Ryan Low and his team have created a strong foundation for recovery.

To everyone who has worked so hard to chart a course through these unprecedented times, I say: Good work.

Switching for just a moment, I also want to say “good work” to the University of Maine men’s hockey team.

Under the leadership of Coach Tim Whitehead, the Black Bears made an incredible run to the Hockey East finals.

Overcoming a late-season slide, the team fought hard night after night.

Fans got a great show, as the Black Bears erased an early deficit and forced overtime in the finals.

In the end, the team came up just short of the title and a bid to the NCAA tournament.

But the gutsy playoff run showed all of us that Maine has returned to prominence and is once again a contender.

The Black Bears showed incredible heart and delivered a great season.

Thanks for listening and have a good weekend.

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