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This is Governor John Baldacci.

On Friday, I signed two historic pieces of legislation that boldly sets Maine on a new path.

Both pieces of legislation - addressing tax reform and relief and energy - were a long time in the making.

From the beginning, I have said that I support the goal of tax reform and a lowering of the top income tax rate.

And I am proud that we have accomplished those goals.

The legislation I signed on Friday will lower the income tax, make the tax code more progressive and stable, and help to grow our economy.

I have been working closely with Democratic Leaders in the House and Senate and the leaders of the Taxation Committee on this negotiated compromise.

The compromise makes changes in the tax reform package, which was enacted by the Legislature on June 5.

It maintains the income tax reduction from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent for incomes up to $250,000. Incomes over $250,000, which is only 2 percent of filers in Maine, would be taxed at 6.85 percent - still a steep decline from 8.5 percent as it is today.

The tax reform plan remains revenue neutral.

These changes maintain the core principals that the Taxation Committee and members of the Legislature worked hard to adopt.

Maine’s tax code will be more stable, more of the tax burden will be exported and the top tax rate will be significantly reduced.

I want to thank Senate President Libby Mitchell, Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree, members of the Legislative leadership, particularly Majority Leader John Piotti, State Sen. Joe Perry and Rep. Thomas Watson, who worked for more than two years to develop the basis for tax reform.

As a result, we are close today to significantly improving our tax system.

I also signed legislation that is leading Maine toward a more energy independent future.

A century of decisions -- by homeowners, businesses and utilities – have left us too dependent on fossil fuels.

We have homes and businesses that are not energy efficient.

We are overly reliant on foreign sources of oil for heat and energy.

Too much of our hard-earned money flows out of the State for energy, instead of strengthening our economy here at home.

And every winter we worry about Maine people getting cold in their homes.

This law changes the picture in a dramatic and historic fashion.

It establishes the Efficiency Maine Trust and Board, bringing together under one roof Maine’s energy rebate, efficiency and conservation programs.

Presently, they are too fragmented and they sometimes leave people on hold too long.

Now we have an opportunity with this legislation to make the needed energy upgrades as easy as possible.

People will be able to find one place that individuals, families and businesses can go to get help with all of their energy efficiency needs.

This approach will build upon the strengths of our current programs, but it will also energize new partnerships to accomplish our goals.

This legislation sets aggressive goals that will lead to a brighter future.

We will weatherize 100 percent of our 3residences and 50 percent of our businesses by 2030;

We will be able to build private sector jobs in clean energy businesses, providing a much needed boast to our economy and putting our people to work in good jobs with good benefits.

We will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of our environment and the health of our people.

This bill also establishes a fund to build and rehabilitate affordable housing, making them more energy efficient and affordable.

And remember, it’s about location, location, location.

This bill takes great care to set up a reasonable process for managing the opportunity Maine has to take advantage of our location to develop new renewable energy resources.

This bill is sweeping in its scope.

It’s an important new law receiving overwhelmingly bipartisan support in the Legislature. Many people worked to turn this good idea into a law that will benefit our entire State.

There’s a long list of people who deserve credit - many members of the Legislature, stakeholders from the environmental, business and energy sectors.

They have all performed a great service for Maine.

Maine will see great dividends from this work. We’ll send fewer energy dollars out of State, we’ll reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and we’ll create thousands of jobs for Maine workers.

We are well on our way to a more secure energy future for Maine.

I sincerely appreciate the good-faith efforts by members of the legislature on both pieces of legislation. These are important accomplishments for Maine that will leave a positive impact for years and generations to come.

Thank you and have a very nice weekend.

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