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This is Governor John Baldacci.

Mainers all across the State have already started receiving stimulus checks from the federal government.

In an effort to reduce the effects of a slowing economy, the Congress and the President passed a stimulus package meant to put money into the pockets of most Americans.

The amounts of the checks are different, depending upon each person’s financial situation, but most Mainers are eligible.

Unfortunately, as many as 31,000 Mainers who are eligible for a $300 check or more have not filed.

All told, according to AARP Maine estimates, more than $9 million of available money is sitting in the federal treasury going unclaimed by State of Maine folks.

Checks began arriving earlier this spring for families who filed a 2007 federal tax return.

But for folks who do not have the tax liability and are not required to file a tax return, the checks aren’t automatic. Those individuals with at least $3,000 of income must file a 1040A tax form to get the stimulus checks.

The form is simple, easy to fill out and understand. They aren’t complicated and don’t require the work generally associated with tax forms.

It’s easy, and there are people ready to help. AARP Maine and the Maine Revenue Service, and even the IRS are ready to assist people who need a little help.

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.

It’s straight forward. There are only 10 questions that are easy to answer. You’ll need your Social Security number, address and your income for 2007.

It’s hard to get easier than that.

The national economy is hurting. The high cost of gasoline and oil are hitting every household.

The stimulus checks can help families make ends meet and offset the high cost of fuel. The extra money is especially important for senior citizens and Mainers living on a fixed income. Every little bit helps and it can make a real difference.

In addition to the help for individual families, the stimulus checks can help strengthen Maine’s economy.

There’s just no good reason for folks to miss out on $300 or more.

I hope everyone who hears this will help me to spread the word.

We all need to talk to our friends and families and neighbors and make sure they know about the stimulus program and understand how to get those checks.

Reach out to people at church or work, or to folks you know who might be struggling. Let them know that there might be some extra help.

No one would want to throw away $300, especially during these challenging times.

Together we can make a difference, and we can make sure people get the money they are entitled to receive.

So for help, you can go to the AARP Web site, www.aarp.org, or call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-0582, extension 377. Or call the local Area Agency on Aging at 1-877-353-3771 for assistance.

The deadline for claiming your economic stimulus check is October 15, so time is passing. And I don’t want anyone to miss out.

Every little bit can help. So spread the word. People, don’t be shy about this. This money approved by Congress to help families and help the economy. But it is only going to reach its full potential if we make sure that every eligible person gets his or her check.

It will take a community effort to make sure we reach everyone with this important message. I know Mainers take care of one another. This is a great opportunity to spread the word about a program that can help families get by during a tough time.

Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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