Governor says economic crisis poses test for Maine

Posted Jan. 10, 2009, at 10:12 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Gov. John Baldacci recalled the sacrifices made by previous generations as he told Mainers on Saturday that difficult choices are in order if Maine is to get through tough economic times.

In his weekly radio address, Baldacci reiterated his rationale for the $6.1 billion biennial budget proposal that he announced the day before.

“The task is daunting and will require all of us — working together in a spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship — to find the best path forward,” he said.

Pointing to the need to bridge an $838 million budget gap, the governor said every part of state government and the programs and services it support must share in the sacrifices.

“There will be temptations to raise broad-based taxes to support important programs,” he said. “But raising the sales or income tax to support spending is not the right approach, especially during this deep recession.”

Baldacci reviewed some of the features of his budget, including the elimination of 219 state jobs, increases in a handful of fees, cuts in tax rebate programs and an attempt to transfer some prisoners to private facilities outside Maine.

“I know this proposal will be controversial, and will be met with opposition from many people I know and respect, including corrections officers who put their lives on the line,” he said.

Baldacci ended his remarks on a note of optimism, even as he said the national economic crisis and other challenges pose a test for Maine.

“But our parents and grandparents suffered through the Depression and world wars. They understood that tough times require sacrifice and ingenuity.

“They made those tough choices and built a more prosperous world,” he said. “And we will do the same.”

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