AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. John Baldacci said Barack Obama’s inauguration as America’s first black president this week will be more than a historical event. Baldacci said it also represents a turning point in the nation’s history.
In his weekly radio address, Baldacci said Obama is leading in a new direction. Within a month of being elected, Obama held an unprecedented meeting with the nation’s governors.
“Never before had governors been invited to meet with an incoming administration so quickly,” said Baldacci. The president-elect wants to erase all party lines and divisions while the nation grapples with tough challenges, said Baldacci.
“With this new president and this new administration, we have a new partner for this and every state in our country,” Baldacci said.
The governor said Obama’s swearing-in will help fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality, which he talked about in his 1963 speech in Washington. Baldacci said it’s appropriate that the inauguration happens within days of what would have been King’s 80th birthday.
In the Republican response, state Sen. Richard Rosen of Bucksport talked about issues closer to home.
Rosen said the governor’s proposed $6.1 billion budget for fiscal years 2010-2011, which Baldacci unveiled Jan. 9, appears at first glance to reflect the reality that state government cannot continue to live beyond taxpayers’ means.
But Republicans are concerned about a few provisions, he said.
Rosen said it’s “troubling” the Medicaid rates to critical access hospitals and doctors are reduced in the budget. He said the spending package relies too heavily on President-elect Obama’s proposed economic stimulus money.
“To the governor’s credit, he does recognize that this would be a one time deal, and should not be used to support ongoing programs,” said Rosen, who also expresses concern about the budget’s shifting taxes to the local level.
“While we have our share of concerns with the budget, we also appreciate that no new broad-based taxes are proposed,” Rosen said.