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This is Governor John Baldacci.

The State of Maine has good reason to be proud this week because of the work done by our elected officials in Washington.

On Wednesday afternoon – largely thanks to the efforts of Maine’s two Senators – an agreement was reached on an economic stimulus package for our country.

Although at the beginning of the weekend we are still not sure of what the final package will look like, I would like to congratulate and thank Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins for the difficult work they have done in regards to getting this agreement.

Our two senators have stood for what is right for our State and for our country.

Combined with the good work of Rep. Mike Michaud and Rep. Chellie Pingree, both in the House of Representatives laying the foundation for the final stimulus package, Maine has a very powerful and influential Congressional delegation that has proven itself capable and willing to work with the new Obama administration.

The United States economy is on the brink of a severe recession. People and families in our State are in a constant struggle, fighting for their jobs and homes every single day.

This is not what comes to mind when one thinks of the “American Dream.”

Rather, The American Dream, as originally described by James Adams in 1931, is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

We are experiencing an economy where people are getting laid off, which results in fewer dollars being spent, which results in more layoffs…and so the cycle goes. This is hardly “The American Dream” that James Adams wrote of … and that is a problem.

But while government is not the solution to all problems, it can be part of the solution to this problem.

Only the federal government has the power and ability to inject an amount of money into our economy large enough to pull it out of this downward spiral…

Only the federal government has the reach to create a stimulus package that not only creates jobs from coast to coast, but builds a foundation that will create positive ripples, impacting nearly every industry in this country…

And only the federal government has the broad authority to affect taxes, provide critical aid to State and local governments, protect our most vulnerable citizens and make massive investments in infrastructure – transmission lines, energy grids, roads, bridges, rails and ports, and airports - all at the same time.

President Obama understands this…and I am proud to say Maine’s two senators understand this as well.

The pressure on the Senators has been immense. But rather than buckling under, they have stood tall and strong in displaying leadership qualities that should make this state proud.

They have shown that they are willing to put the interests of their country and their state above ideology.

Sen. Collins and Sen. Snowe and Sen. Spector were instrumental in forming the coalition to help pass the stimulus package.

The work they have been doing is unbelievably difficult and, unfortunately, all too often thankless.

In the House of Representatives, we have been very well served with the leadership of Congressman Mike Michaud and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.

They recognized early on the importance of investing in the economic recovery. They know first hand that people are hurting, families are struggling, businesses are going out of business.

They know the need to be able to find the balance between fiscal discipline and the need to invest.

They recognize that this package has been the progress of a lot of people working together and they have fought hard to build that foundation, so we want to thank them for their leadership and hard work.

Maine is so fortunate to have a delegation who may be small in number, but they are very influential in regards to what’s taking place in Washington in both the House and in the Senate.

The progress of this package has been – and will continue to be – completely transparent. If you go to our Web site – www.maine.gov, you can click on a link with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

That link will give you the most up-to-date information on the stimulus package and how it affects Maine. As it progresses, you will be able to track every dollar that comes in to Maine from this package, and how it is spent.

There have been many changes and many disagreements to the original stimulus package, proposed by the President. However, at this point the original purpose of the bill remains in tact.

It is to create jobs.

It is to reduce the burden that has been placed on working Americans and small businesses.

And it is about building an infrastructure that will make our economy stronger in the future.

The investments are sorely needed. The struggles already exist and without the stimulus package, they would have only gotten much worse.

Although the economic stimulus package will not solve all of our problems, it is my hope that it will be a giant step forward, but it is going to require all of us to take the next step together.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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