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This is Governor John Baldacci.

A crisis can often bring out the very best in people.

When there’s an emergency, people react.

Firefighters rush into burning buildings. Police face fugitives waiving guns and soldiers put themselves at risk to save others.

But not every crisis demands – or even allows – for such actions.

Maine right now is caught in the vice of a national energy price crisis. Gasoline has topped over $4 dollars a gallon in some parts of the State and is lingering just under that mark everywhere else.

The prices of a single-family home in the State have dropped more than 11 percent since last year, and the number of homes sold is down more than 23 percent.

And food prices related to energy costs keep climbing.

I don’t need to talk about the pressure being faced by Maine families. We see it every single day when they go to the grocery store or get gas for the family car.

It’s a real energy price crisis.

And it’s my concern that the U.S. economy will be slower to recover.

What we can do is put Maine on a better financial course and work to improve our financial footing so that we are better able to weather those national storms.

Maine has taken bold action, but it’s never going to compare to the bravery and heroics of firefighters, police officers and soldiers.

We have fundamentally altered the fabric of state government though.

We have reinvigorated K-12 education, we have consolidated administrations at all levels including county jails and state prisons, and we have restrained State spending.

Now, there has been plenty of opposition along the way and some folks are continuing to fight progress while trying to hold onto the past.

But in the end, Maine will have provided our children a better educational system, more efficient and effective corrections, and it will have a State government, county government and local government we can afford.

The work is not glamorous and it’s easy to say we haven’t gone far enough, that we have stopped short of our ultimate goals.

But the critics - they fall short of reality. Unlike the brave firefighter who rushes in on the spot, changing government doesn’t happen in a split-second without input from people.

It takes time to spread information, to talk and convince folks of the right course of action and then to ultimately make the changes.

Consider the State budget. In fiscal year 2009, the State will spend about $38 million less than it spent in 2008. Let me repeat that for you because I don’t know if you’ve heard that before. But, in fiscal year 2009, the State will spend about $38 million less than it spent in 2008. That’s an actual reduction in government spending.

It’s only the fourth time in 35 years that that’s happened.

Since taking office in 2003, the number of State workers has declined by more than 600 people.

We are making the hard choices and building a State government that taxpayers can afford.

But we’re doing it in a way that doesn’t jeopardize opportunity for our children and education and health care or the assets we need for economic development.

We have invested in innovation and research and development, cutting-edge technology that will create good-paying, private sector jobs.

We’re investing in roads and bridges and rails to make sure they’re safe and effective for moving people and goods around the State and around the world.

And we’re protecting our environment and special quality of place that sets Maine apart from the rest of the world.

Now, in the coming year, Maine faces an uncertain national economy. The revenue picture is foggy at best.

We know that we will have to cut more from the State budget next year, at a time when the need for government services is at its greatest.

It would be nice to be able to take that one decisive action – to wave a magic wand -- and to see immediate results.

But when it comes to streamlining State government, county government, local government, while protecting our ability to fulfill our core responsibilities, it’s just not that easy.

It takes a steady, consistent and determined effort.

This summer, my administration is continuing to look for innovative ideas for improving the efficiency of government at all levels.

The Natural Resource Agency Task Force began meeting this week. The group’s mission is to examine the five different State agencies charged with protecting Maine’s natural resources and look for ways to more efficiently protect those resources while reducing the administration.

We are also in the process of restructuring the Department of Economic and Community Development. The goal is to put those resources out of Augusta, into the local and regional level where they can do the most good.

And we are also examining the fine details of operations overall at the State, county and local level to see about uncovering more efficiencies, less administration and more taxpayer savings.

The national economy is uncertain, and there are difficult budget times ahead. But the course we set six years ago has made us better able to deal with today’s trouble.

There’s hard work left to do, and my administration is prepared to do it.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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