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This is Governor John Baldacci.

Last week the 123rd Legislature concluded their business. This, the second of the two-year session, usually dubbed the “short session.”

But despite that description, it’s been a session filled with long and difficult debates over issues that impact all Mainers today and into the future.

Much has been accomplished in just four months.

The Legislature deserves a lot of credit for tackling complicated issues such as transportation infrastructure, health insurance reform, continuing the education consolidation of administration, identification security on our drivers’ licenses, renewable energy and addressing a near-$200 million budget shortfall.

They accomplished an amazing amount of work in a short amount of time, doing such a good job that it seems that we might want to consider making every session a short one.

Despite the successes this Legislature achieved, many of them left Augusta tired and frustrated. The end of the Legislative session is always tough, even during the best of times.

And we certainly are not in the best of times.

We face a difficult national economy on the midst of a recession and hopefully coming out. Hardworking Maine families are having a tough time making ends meet. Our challenge was to balance the budget during the national recession and without help from Washington and by doing this, making some hard choices.

We realized that much like a business, much like a family, we have to make changes now to be able to finance the programs that were established earlier.

The Legislature did not turn away from those circumstances and met the challenges head on.

Together, we balanced one of the most difficult budgets I have seen in my time in Augusta.

By bringing State spending in line with our revenues, we restructured government administration to make it smaller, more efficient and taken major steps toward improving our financial position in the future.

We brought industry and environmentalists together to protect public health and safeguard our natural resources.

We took impressive steps toward securing Maine’s energy independence and promoting clean, renewable sources of energy. I want us to do everything we can to keep our energy dollars in our own pockets and to create new jobs in the energy service sector.

We protected children from toxic chemicals, lead and secondhand smoke.

By containing rising costs of insurance and reforming DirigoChoice funding, we continue to make insurance more affordable and to work to contain rising health care costs.

We took steps to improve services for Maine veterans. By creating a veterans campus in Bangor we will have available for our veterans a one-stop-shop to access services, information and the state and federal programs that are available to them. They’ll be able to earn access a lot easier.

Back in August, I started talking about an idea to create a unified corrections system. Needless to say, there were a few skeptics. But because of all the varied interests getting together to do the hard work – I want to compliment our sheriffs, our county commissioners, our towns and cities throughout the State and our State Representatives and Senators -- they came up with a plan that won overwhelming approval in the House and Senate.

The entire state will benefit from a better, more efficient system that can save property tax money and do a better job of taking care of the people in our care.

We were also able to raise the minimum wage, making sure that Mainers are rewarded for the hard work they do.

Though the debate was long and sometimes divided, the Legislature came together in the last days of this session to eliminate barriers to school reorganization and gave communities the tools they need to move forward.

We updated our driving license requirements, ensuring that only Maine residents can access identification issued by the State. Securing our state licenses while safeguarding personal information helps protect all Mainers.

And we made significant new investments in our roads, rails and bridges. We know that there’s much work waiting to be done, but the Legislature’s actions have put many of those projects on a faster track.

This Legislature has been creating jobs, protecting our infrastructure and making sure that we can efficiently move people and goods.

I am proud of what has been accomplished.

When there were disagreements, the Legislature put the people of Maine first, and proved that when we work together, we can achieve great things for our state.

We are at an important time in our State’s history and we have the right people and the right abundant natural resources and a workforce second to none.

I’d particularly like to thank Senate President Beth Edmonds, who has been wonderful to work with as the leader of the State Senate; and Speaker of the House Glenn Cummings for providing the leadership in both the House and Senate to make this session one of the most productive Legislative sessions that I have been a part of.

I want to say thank you for your service and I look forward to working with you in the future.

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