Editor’s note: Democratic Gov. John Baldacci delivered the following speech during the state party convention in June. Baldacci was nominated Tuesday by a wide margin over little-known challenger Chris Miller. The speech is complete, except for opening salutations.)

When I began to think about this speech, I started to think through all the challenges and changes the last three and half years have seen for Maine and for the nation.

So where are we as a state.

Would you believe … More people are working than ever before in Maine’s history.

BELIEVE IT.

Would you believe … More people are moving into Maine than are leaving.

BELIEVE IT.

Would you believe … in health care Maine is one of only seven states to reduce the number of uninsured.

BELIEVE IT.

Would you believe … in the last 3½ years we’ve protected more land than any prior administration … nearly 1 million acres.

BELIEVE IT.

Would you believe … just this week, Maine was deemed to have a sound financial position BY ALL THREE New York bond rating agencies.

BELIEVE IT.

But the doom-and-gloom Republicans don’t want you to believe it. If you listen to them Maine is failing and faltering.

This is the same party of delay, do little and do nothing.

So where are we as a nation. Not long after I was sworn in, President Bush announced “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, and the news was full of how Iraq would be rebuilt.

They were going to repair Iraqi schools, build more and better health clinics, repair roads and bridges, and ensure free and honest elections.

I remember hoping that if President Bush accomplished all that in Iraq, he might think it would be a good idea to try it here at home, as well.

That got me thinking about the ways in which governing is similar, but yet different between a president and a governor.

For example, when I entered the Blaine House, coming out of the recession, we had a $1.2 billion budget deficit, an empty rainy day fund, skyrocketing health care costs and Maine workers losing their health care coverage.

President Bush inherited President Clinton’s budget surplus and the “problem” of a massive SURPLUS.

But we needn’t have worried. President Bush put the kibosh on that problem right away, with a massive “temporary” tax cut that gave us a massive $300 billion-plus deficit the following year.

Another mission accomplished.

When I took office, Maine’s health care system faced enormous challenges. Many Mainers had no coverage, and insurance premiums were pricing small businesses out of the field.

Through Dirigo we’re now insuring over 15,000 Mainers and improving cost, quality and access to health care.

President Bush faced tough health care issues too: The skyrocketing price of prescription drugs for the elderly. He fixed that with a massive infusion of federal tax dollars to the big pharmaceutical companies and health insurers.

So I concluded governing is governing, whether at the state or federal level.

So let’s look at what we’ve accomplished in Maine.

In the past three years, we balanced the budget; we erased that billion dollar deficit. And without raising any broad-based sales or income tax.

We’ve refilled the rainy day fund, from zero to $100 million, and reduced our short term borrowing by over 80 percent.

So what’s the story in Washington. At the federal level, our children have inherited an $8 trillion deficit.

BELIEVE IT.

Here in Maine we moved ahead to create good paying jobs with benefits and grow our economy. We established Pine Tree Zones, that have created thousands of jobs. We created incentives to broaden economic activity to rural communities.

And, we increased R&D investment and strategically invested in new and emerging technologies as well as ones that add value to our natural resources.

• Jackson Labs in Bar Harbor will be adding several hundred new jobs over the next five years.

• Idexx Laboratories in Westbrook will begin a multimillion dollar expansion resulting in several hundred new jobs.

• Cooke Aquaculture has invested $25 million in Washington County over the last two years and plans to invest another $60 million in the next two.

• In the past three years, over 1,400 new small businesses launched, creating nearly 5,000 new jobs in Maine.

We moved aggressively to keep Maine jobs in Maine. Jim Horowitz of Oxford Aviation started his business over 15 years ago with just one employee. But with our Economic Plan, he can stay here in Maine, his business has now grown to sixty employees, with another 200 on the way.

Portland, Lewiston and Bangor have all been named by national magazines as great places to live and great places to do business. And now Maine is one of the lowest cost places to do business in the Northeast.

BELIEVE IT.

So what’s the story in Washington.

At the federal level they almost outsourced our major port operations to Dubai.

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT.

We all know health care is a problem across the country. It’s a problem Washington should be dealing with and they’re not. Here in Maine we’ve rolled up our sleeves and tackled an incredibly complicated issue. We created a health care initiative so successful, it has now been recognized as one of the top initiatives nationally.

Today, through Dirigo more than 15,000 Maine people have affordable, quality health care and by the end of 2006 this number will increase by another 7,000.

So here’s a real life Maine story. Sandra Tibbitts was uninsured before Dirigo and couldn’t afford to see a doctor. After she joined Dirigo and could finally afford to see a doctor, she learned she had breast cancer. Sandra was able to get the treatment she needed, and the hope she lacked.

Our job isn’t done until every Mainer can afford the same quality health care.

So what’s the story in Washington.

The Bush administration implemented the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. What happened – 87,000 of our most vulnerable were unable to continue their prescription drugs and life saving medicines. Maine stepped in and paid for prescriptions for everyone who would have fallen through the cracks.

I’ve written to Washington once, I’ve written to Washington twice, I’ll write to Washington again, until they decide to step up to the plate and do the right thing.

In Maine, we made community college a reality, opening the doors of higher education to thousands of our people. We laid the groundwork for the largest investment in local public education in Maine’s history, providing $280 million more in aid to local schools.

In the last three years, we have transformed our higher education system. Over 11,000 students are attending community colleges; enrollment is up 42 percent and enrollment of students directly from high school has jumped 50 percent.

We have reinvested in the classroom, and now Maine leads the nation in classroom investment and is one of only two states that puts more than 65 percent of the education budget into classroom instruction.

We have increased starting teachers salaries to make sure we attract and retain the best and the brightest teachers in our schools.

So what’s the story in Washington.

No Child Left Behind equals no teacher left standing and no child moving ahead.

Here in Maine we understand the health and well being of our people.

When Washington was capping our low-income heating assistance, we stepped forward and provided emergency funding

In Washington, they sat by and watched the oil companies rack up record profits.

And here in Maine we understand our state’s economy depends on the responsible protection and preservation of our environment and natural resources and the pursuit of energy independence.

Over the last three years, Maine has led the way toward a cleaner, safer environment.

• Reduced mercury and lead in our air and water.

• Launched an initiative to promote safer chemicals in consumer products

• Adopted Green Building Standards for state buildings, and

• Launched solar and wind initiatives to increase our renewable power supply.

Despite the challenges we’ve faced, Maine is stronger today than it was 3 years ago.

Certainly we may pause and celebrate what we have succeeded. But we are not done. We won’t be done until hope and opportunity have reached every doorstep of every Maine person.

And so, my fellow Mainers, I’m not satisfied. We have more to do. I ask you today, will you help me?

And together – over the next four years, we will continue to expand hope and opportunity, invest in Maine people and protect the most vulnerable in our society.

With our economic plan,

• we will grow 25,000 new jobs in Maine in the next five years;

• we will provide universal access to health care for Maine citizens;

• we will build educational opportunity and prepare our state for the 21st century.

• we will leave a Maine full of hope and opportunity for our children and grandchildren;

We owe it to all of Maine to stay true to the Maine spirit, that guiding passion that lives in every citizen of our state, setting us apart from the rest of the nation, that makes our state’s most important natural resource not our great forests, our rivers, our lakes, our stunning shoreline, but our mill workers and shipbuilders, our teachers and students, our nurses and doctors, our soldiers at home and abroad, our fathers and mothers, our sons and daughters … our people.

It is this spirit that calls on all of us to ask not “how are we going to succeed” but “how are we going to succeed together”.

It is this spirit, invincible to any hardship or burden of life, that has made our state what it is today. From Hannibal Hamlin, who told Abraham Lincoln he had to issue the emancipation proclamation.

Ed Muskie, who championed the environment and civic responsibility before anyone else thought to; George Mitchell, who restored ethics to the U.S. Senate and made all of us proud. These are all Maine leaders who embody the spirit of our state.

Let us not forget that this spirit we inherited from our forbears endows us not just with industry, but with responsibility; that we are charged with no burden but the duty of goodwill to our community. We are strong as one, but stand much stronger together.

For in Maine we sit at the very top of the nation, from the peak of Katahdin to our shores that see the nation’s first morning light, we are blessed with the most spectacular miracles of nature. But it is our people, with their eternal values, their devotion to one another, their everlasting spirit, that will always make Maine the greatest State in this Union.

We have come far already but as Robert Frost wrote “we have miles to go before we sleep.” But with this spirit as our guide, with our people as the engines for our state’s growth, I know we will succeed.

And so as we celebrate the end of the first leg of our journey, I stand here and ask you:

Will you join me in making our state even greater?

Will you join me in restoring hope and opportunity for all Maine people?

If you join me in this journey, I promise you Maine’s future will be better and brighter.

BELIEVE IT.

God Bless You and God Bless the State of Maine.


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