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Good day.

The first session of the 123rd Legislature adjourned this week, ending a productive six months.

Maine people can be proud of their representatives in Augusta. This session opened with a long list of goals. Hard work and a strong will to work together for the benefit of all Maine people enabled us to accomplish much. Indeed, this has been one of the most productive legislative sessions I can remember.

With overwhelming, bipartisan support, we created a two-year budget that makes the most significant reforms in K-12 education in more than 50 years. It imposes new spending discipline upon state government, and invests in innovation and higher education.

With overwhelming, bipartisan support, we developed a package of targeted investments that make our roads and bridges safer, will protect the state’s special places and will help grow private-sector, sustainable jobs with good benefits.

And with near unanimous support, we have taken major steps forward to protect our environment by reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. We protected our citizens from toxic chemicals hidden inside consumer goods.

Thanks to your efforts, Maine now has one of the toughest predatory lending laws in the country, and together we have delivered to business a work force training program and nearly $70 million in real tax relief.

We’ve created a national model to protect the health of people serving in the National Guard.

And we’ve taken steps in advancing our goal toward universal health insurance coverage and an improved health care system.

DirigoChoice will have the option to become self-insured, a move that will give us the flexibility to improve the program and restrain the cost.

And we have made it possible for young adults to keep health insurance through their parents until they are 25 years old, a major expansion of coverage to an age group prone to go without.

Our success is the product of our ability to work together for the good of the people of Maine.

During the last days of this session, there has been a difficult debate around health care and tax reform.

On both issues, we still have work to do.

The Tax Committee this year undertook an enormous task, and its members have done it with great creativity and openness.

Working diligently for the entire session, the committee, and particularly its chairs John Piotti and Joe Perry, developed a reform plan that has moved the debate on taxes further than most people thought possible.

But this is a difficult and complicated issue with consequences for our entire economy and affecting every business and family in Maine. We have to make sure we get it right.

I am committed to working with Legislative leaders going forward to further advance tax reform and tax relief. My goal is to develop a plan, like our groundbreaking budget and bond package, that will gain broad support.

In consultation with the Legislature, experts and interests on all sides, we will examine the taxes Maine people and visitors pay, we will consider more ways to streamline government at all levels, and create further saving.

Our discussion must include both changing the tax code and reducing the burden.

We must make sure the spending caps that we have in place at the state, county and municipal level have the teeth to make them effective.

Tax code changes must be tied to spending changes.

Before January, I will develop a Governor’s bill to reduce the tax burden on Mainers, improve our tax laws and continue to restructure government and reduce administration at all levels, in all areas.

We will do more to take our case to the people, making sure that we bypass the special interests and engage the public interest.

I appreciate the work of the Taxation Committee. Its members have done a tremendous job. Their efforts and the efforts of many lawmakers who supported their work will be the foundation for discussions moving forward.

Like taxes, our work on health care is not complete. Although we took some big strides this session, health care reform still needs more attention.

My pledge is to work with you to achieve our goals of making Maine the healthiest state in the nation.

Our goal will be to increase the number of people who have health insurance and implement market reforms that will increase private-sector competition and help hold down insurance costs while expanding universal access.

If we continue to work together, I know we can do it.

The 123rd Legislature has delivered real results for Maine. Everybody in the state should be proud of what has been accomplished, knowing that more work needs to be done.

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