Summary of the Maine State of the State Address
By Stateline Staff
In his last state of the state address, Gov. John Baldacci (D) called on the Democratic-led Legislature to help him close a $438 million budget gap by consolidating natural resource agencies, streamlining government administration, eliminating redundancies between state and local government and cutting social services.
Striking an optimistic tone, Baldacci, who is term-limited and cannot run, said Jan. 21 he expected the state to grow its way out of the recession and called on the people of Maine to persevere." Despite the difficulties we face, the hard choices and hard work ahead, the next chapter in Maine's history will be one of resurgence, growth and opportunity," he said.
Vowing not to raise taxes, Baldacci renewed his support for an investment and tax-restructuring plan that opponents have sought to overturn with a measure slated for the June 2010 ballot. Under the plan, sales taxes would apply to a larger number of goods and services, and personal income taxes for those earning more than $250,000 per year would drop from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent.
Baldacci also announced new legislation to fund wind-energy research and development so that Maine - which he said leads New England in offshore wind power - can continue to make gains in renewable energy production. In addition, he called for an energy efficiency program that would provide grants for businesses that lower their energy consumption and rebates of up to $3,000 for those who make home improvements to cut their energy bills.
In health care, Baldacci announced a new, free Web site ( www.keepmewell.org ) that allows Mainers to assess their health status and connect to low-cost services and other resources in their communities. In education, he said he supported lowering administrative costs, adopting national education standards and tying teachers' pay to students' performance.