AUGUSTA (AP) – Pasta will be the main dish and economic development the main topic on the table as Gov. John Baldacci opens the first Cabinet retreat of his 9-month-old administration in his hometown on Tuesday.

About two dozen top officials in state government will sit down for dinner in the most familiar of settings for their boss: Momma Baldacci’s Italian Restaurant.

The two-day retreat marks a new phase in the still-young administration.

Balancing the state budget in the face of a $1.2 billion shortfall was Baldacci’s most pressing priority when he took office in January. That was accomplished in March when lawmakers approved a two-year spending package that included no major tax increases.

Now, Baldacci hopes to identify further steps the administration can take in an effort to improve the state’s economy and promote job growth.

Cabinet officials are scheduled to visit the Bangor waterfront with city officials, who see development of the area lining the Penobscot River as significant to the region’s economy.

Streamlining state government functions will also fit into the agenda.

At Baldacci’s direction, the Cabinet and executive officers will break into four groups to develop ideas on how state departments can work in collaboration to improve services and promote efficiencies, said Umphrey.

One group, for example, includes agencies dealing with natural resource-based interests and includes departments of Agriculture, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Conservation, Environmental Protection and Marine Resources.

The other groups will focus on such issues as planning and transportation, business regulation and public safety, and human services and state finances.

AP-ES-09-29-03 1627EDT

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