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This is Governor John Baldacci.

Earlier this year, Congress passed an economic stimulus package to help reduce the effects of a slowing economy. The idea was to put additional money in the pockets of American people.

To receive the checks, most Americans simply had to do something they do every year – which is file taxes.

However, there are many people who were eligible for these checks who are not required to file a tax return.

Three months ago, Maine still had as many as 31,000 Mainers who were eligible for the check worth $300 or more who had not yet asked for it.

I am happy to report that as of September 7, with an aggressive campaign about 9,000 additional Mainers have claimed their economic stimulus checks.

The bad news is that more than 22,000 Mainers still haven’t. That leaves about $6 million dollars of available money sitting in the federal treasury going unclaimed by people in the State of Maine who deserve it.

And time is running out.

The deadline to file for your economic stimulus check is Wednesday, October 15th.

If you are not required to file a tax return and have at least $3,000 of income, all you need to do is file a 1040-A tax form to get the stimulus checks.

The form is simple, easy to fill out and understand.

They aren’t complicated and they don’t require the work generally associated with tax forms.

But more importantly, there are also people standing by, ready to help you.

AARP and the Maine Revenue Service, and the IRS are ready to assist.

For those with access to a computer, you can go to the Web site: www.aarp.org.

The Web site has a simple form that you can print out and send in.

You can also call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-0582, extension 377.

Or call the local Area Agencies on Aging at 1-877-353-3771. I will repeat these numbers in a couple of minutes, so get a pen and paper ready.

The original stimulus package was passed to ease the burden of a slowing national economy. We are at the point now where our national economy has nearly stalled.

Business and families are hurting.

Gas prices and heating oil prices -- while going down -- are still much higher than they were a year ago.

And prices continue to rise on food and other necessities.

College tuition has increased over 35 percent these past five years.

And health care costs have risen four times faster than wages over the past six years.

Working families have been forced to absorb these increased costs while wages have largely remained flat.

To top it off, we in Maine are in the time of the year when temperatures are starting to drop, and we are facing the realities of turning our furnaces on for the first time this season.

Nearly everyone is counting every dollar, every nickel and every dime. We cannot let a check for $300 pass us by.

Moreover, the need for a second economic stimulus is becoming more and more apparent.

The federal government needs to step forward and help States rebuild the foundations of the economy.

We need to be able to make investments and put Americans and Mainers back to work and get our foundation of our economy on firm footing.

Investments need to be made – at the federal level – in research and development, infrastructure and job growth.

We need to make sure that small businesses – family businesses - get the attention and investments they deserve during these trying times.

By making investments in jobs, we are making investments in people. And when you make investments in people, America wins.

While we will likely not see another stimulus package until at least January, right now our focus must be on informing Mainers who deserve an economic stimulus check that they need to file their claim by Wednesday.

Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of the folks who haven’t claimed their stimulus checks are seniors. Many of them are living on a fixed income and could really use the help.

That $300 could be used for oil and groceries, warm clothes or medicine.

So if you have a loved one who qualifies for a check but has not yet claimed it, or know of somebody, I urge you to contact them and give them assistance.

Or, if you are listening to the broadcast and you have not yet filed your own form because you don’t need, but make at least $3,000 a year, I urge you to fill out simple paperwork to receive a little extra money for the winter.

Help is available – free -- at the A-A-R-P’s Web site – www.aarp.org;

Call the I-R-S directly at 1-800-829-0582, extension 377;

Or call the local Area Agency on Aging at 1-877-353-3771.

This money was intended to help all of us get through difficult times. We need to make sure that we spread the word and that everyone who’s eligible benefits from this important program gets them.

Thank you for your help and have a nice weekend.

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