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tv   Maine State of the State Address  CSPAN  February 15, 2022 1:16pm-2:10pm EST

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row seat to democracy . >> maine governor janet mills delivered the 2022 state of the state address from the statehouse . she talked about the state's handling of the covid-19 pandemic and called for investments in childcare and healthcare. [applause] >> thank you. thank you. [applause] thank you all. thank you so much. thank you.
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>> thank you. thank you. senator jackson, speaker. chief justice stansfield secretary bellows. attorney general fry. treasurer , treasurer norton, distinguished members of the 130th legislature. distinct mayors and honored guests it's good to be back . tonight is the first time in two years we've been together in this chamber . i'm here to continue the story i shared with them. a story about the promise of our states and progress we have made to reach our peoples full potential.
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as we emerged from the early dark days of january , with the waxing moon sheds light on a dramatic midwest landscape. it is good to put time to take stock to reflect our common history, our community progress and our communal teaching. to assess the state of the state. we entered some difficult and dangerous times these last 23 months. this state and this nation have endured a time like none other . fending off a pervasive unceasing threat to our lives and our livelihoods. we in maine have never had it easy. we've never been able to take things for granted. we don't welcome tough times but we're not afraid of themto either . and as any good maine forresterwill tell you , good timber does not grow in ease.
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the stronger wind, the tougher trees. our presence in this chamber tonight is a sign of progress , of recovery. a step forward in our march towards normalcy and stability. especially from where we have been. early in the pandemic, there's no experience with this novel virus i like virtually every governor across the nation took steps to protect the health of many people. following the best available p science to protect lives. now with the development of vaccines, now available to nearly everyone, science liver to us the life-saving miracle we needed. and with it the responsibility to protect lives no longer belonging to me alone but became then as it is now.t both of personal responsibility to protect yourself and a shared
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responsibility rsto protect us all. we arrived at another inflection point in this winding pandemic. all hopeful moment as we welcome downward trends and declining hospitalizations. a warmer writer spring as we emerged from a cold dark winter. yes, we are tired. yes we are weary. but we are strong. it's if nothing else, the two years of this pandemichave hashowed us we are stronger than we ever imagined . last year's emergency measures no longer serve the purposes they once did. nor should they . as science and trends eve all our response you balls as well. today we focused not on telling people what they cannot do. we focus on telling people what they can and should do.
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we focus on preserving the most vital facets of our lives, our schools, hospitals, our jobs. as the storm of the pandemic indoors with peaks and valleys to come i pledge to you u is this. we will work day and night to make vaccines and tests accessible to all to keep our children safe in their schools. to work in close partnership with our healthcare systems. wensure critical care for all those who need it not just those with covid-19 and to keep ourbusinesses open and driving and our economy moving forward . we will continue to expect the unexpected. as commonsense , common courtesy and vigilance rightfully replace fear and anger. as we protect ourselves from the known risks of and take
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care ourindividual actions do not jeopardize the health of others . and as the vaccine becomes available for our youngest children, as more people are fully vaccinated and obtain even greater protection with booster shots we will continue to recommend the commonsense measures that keep our state safe. adjusting to meet changing circumstances . you can all do your part inby getting vaccinated. more than 1 million of you mo have done so. and each of you i am deeply plgrateful. you are why i am proud to report that maine is one of the most highly vaccinated states in the nation and despite being one of the oldest states, we have one of the lowest covid death rates in the nation. our goal has been to save lives and we havesucceeded in better than nearly any other state . [applause] this success
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however is cold comfort to the loved ones of those who lost theirlives to this insidious virus . the more than 1800 maine people, fathers, mothers, grandparents friends whose absence is felt everyday . tonight we also feel the loss of two good people who served so ably in this legislature. our good friend representative john hubbell of san francisco and friend to all representative donna door of augusta. may we please bow our heads in a moment of remembrance for those consoles and for our fellow citizens who lost their lives .
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>> as we look across the state of maine right now we still see local hospitals trying to stay on top of the extraordinary crush of very ill, mostly unvaccinated patients fighting for their very breath. we see children resilient in the face of great difficulty desperate for stability, socialization and education. we see parents persevering but searching for a break. hoping not to get the call at their day care center hasbeen closed because they know they can't afford to miss work . we see citizens school boards patiently listening to students, teachers and parents and delivering about the right measures to keep kids in school while protecting everyone from the virus .
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we see farmers, fishermen, loggers and haulers trying to keep up with the swings and demand. the uncertainty of markets in offshore supplies. and for the lobster industry, arbitrary federal regulations over the gulf of maine. we see an historic economy making historic comebacks with challenged by long-standing difficulties but the shortage of workers while shot and manufacturers trades and service providers are ouanxiously trying to fill thousands of jobs. we see maine people struggling with the exorbitant electric bills and inflation at the pump. at the grocery store, paying more of their hard-earned paycheck. we must work together to address these challenges. but there are also things we cannot see as readily as our state is on the road to recovery. maine's economy like that of
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the rest of the nation is making a comeback . maine's gross domestic product, a key measure of economic growth is not only fully bounce back from the pandemic. it has in fact surpassed tfree pandemic projections. indeed, from when i took office through the third quarter of last year our gdp grew at the second-fastest rate in new england and the 14th fastest in the nation and our unemployment rate, 4.7 percent is still too high has fallen by nearly half from apandemic high of 9.1 percent . jobless rates in the bangor area have fallen to 3.8 percent. four percent in lewiston and auburn and 3.4 percent in portland. it's progress. only about 6000 people are receiving unemployment benefits right now. a number that iscomparable to the number before the pandemic .
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our auto, building supply, lodging, retail sales were up this summer. national exports are up and on track to be the best since 2012. our tourism industry had a banner summer season. our state parks saw a record number of visitors. more than three point million last year alone. with thousands already booked for this year. maine families are enjoying their state and people are ar coming here, enjoying what we tehave to offer and contributing to our economy. thank you commissioner beal and your staff for being good stewards of our public parks and campgrounds. b [applause] our population is
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growing at the second-highest rate in new england and we have the seventh highest rate migration in the nation. there's a change for you. we're encouraging new innovative businesses and exciting partners like the room institute and opening new businesses across the state like the data and tech company dynamic . coming to maine, congratulations to the mayor. [applause] our credit ratings have been reaffirmed even as other states have downgraded by credit rating agencies who cited our government practices and growth of our rainy day fund as signs of stability. our rainy day fund has more than doubled the biden administration to $500 million.
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let me repeat. let me work. half $1 billion. the highestit's ever been . [applause] we returned $371 million to people in maine businesses including sending those $285 checks to more than 500,000 hard-working men and women in maine and millions more in tax relief for maine businesses and maine people and after passing strong talents budgets, the most recent one supported by nearly every member of this chamber, we are reporting a record budget surplus of 822 million dollars and this is thanks to good fiscal management and to
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our careful allocation of federal and state pandemic ncrelief including hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funding to keep maine's small businesses open and their employees on the job. [applause] oh, and we've achieved all of this without raising any taxes. [applause] all of this is progress. at the same time, maine is not immune from the impact of pandemic driven inflation or higher energy prices caused by reliance on fossil fuels. to supply chain issues that contribute to higher prices at the grocery store for everything from potato chips
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to plasticware to a ramen noodles and food and the scarcity of chocolate milk. a global pandemic has had very real and very clear impact on the natural economy and those impacts are felt here in while i can't control the impact of covid-19 on global markets i can make sure that we deliver to maine people the resources they need to grapple with these rising costs as we rebuild a stronger sustainable economy that is more resilient to the whims of the rest of the world. now, many of my friends on the other side of the isle like senate minority leader jeff and lake have called for a return of half the surplus to maine people through direct checks. i think you're right. i propose we send half of
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this surplus, $411 million back to thepeople of maine . [applause] these givebacks by direct checks to the people will amount to $500 per person and will be distributed to an estimated 800,000 taxpayers in maine to help them offset added costs. well, as we continue to rebuild our economy we know what the largest competitor is to sustain growth. the same issue that has e garnered headlines the past decade. maine's workforce. headlines like here are the jobs maine employer struggle to fill. that headline is found in
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bangor daily news november 2015. some farmington area stores struggle against employees, the sun journal 2018. and what's next for maine's laborshortage ? maine business december 10, 2018. sound familiar? we know maine has long grappled with an aging and declining population with so many young people leaving our state in searchof opportunities elsewhere . the pandemic didn't help our workforce by any means. maine's department of labor estimates that 22,000 people no longer in our workforce more than 15,000 of them likely retired. a trend that is consistent with the rest of the country. our workforce shortage is a serious problem. it is a problem i inherited
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but it is not one that i will leave to our grandchildren to solve. it will take hard work, not simplistic solutions that we know what we need to do. maine people are telling us we need childcare. they need housing. they need broadband. and that they need good healthcare and strong public schools for their kids . i this is why we have adopted a comprehensive approach to childcare, broadband, housing and healthcare through the main jobs and recovery plan. and it's why i welcome a bipartisan effort to improve our schools and make every child ready for a career and a meaningful life in hopes they will always call maine home. i have five wonderful grandchildren. all you're in maine. one is an adult with special
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needs, to our young men in chuck college and two are just starting out their academic careers in kindergarten and pre-k. now, noel and brookie, if you're watchingtonight you'd better be in your pajamas and getting ready for bed . there hard-working parents like all maine parents juggle jobs, daycare, tuition and books, fuel and groceries. they asked every day what will tomorrow be like for my child? i want us to do everything we can for families like these all across our state to allow them to stay in maine and succeed in maine. we know that lack of quality affordable childcare prevents people from taking jobs, starting new businesses, from moving to rural communities and it deprives kids of developmental care. that's why we're taking this
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issue head on. we've created the first ever childcare plan for maine that gets approximately $120 million in rescue funds to help maine's childcare system recover and improve childcare quality, accessibility and affordability for the long-term . [applause]. with this funding we've approved, provided $200 monthly stipends to more than 6000 childcare workers to encourage them to work in the medical profession. now we're investing another 25 million in federal funds to help renovate expand, build new childcare
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facilities and expand early childcare education programs but we also need to do more. steve has proposed legislation. [laughter] has proposed legislation to provide paying for child care workers . i support this proposal. [applause] to deliver on it, my supplemental budget will include $12 million of increased pay for our childcare workers. lack of available affordable housing also a serious area
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to entering the workforce remains chronic housing shortage, long thing of the past. one of the first things i did as governor you'll remember was us signed a $15 million senior housing bonds overwhelmingly approved by maine voters in 2015 but never released by the previous administration. now we have built more than 200 new housing units for low income seniors, all of it now occupied or nearly complete and authorized 100 more. [applause] two years ago i asked you to connect speaker
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pesto's bill to establish the affordable tax credit. we did so and i was proud to sign into law. the single largest estate investment in housing in maine history . [applause] this summer we broke ground on the first major housing project under that law and it is making a difference. under my main jobs and recovery plan we're investing $50 million to increase the number of energy efficient affordable homes for working maine people. 10 million dollars of that is heading out the door right now resulting in 150 new affordable homes . this is progress. we must make home ownership and affordable rentals reachable for maine people. it is both economical and a moral imperative.
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another thing keeping too many people from work especially in rural areas, is the lack of affordable effective broadband. i know you hear it everywhere across the state. high-speed internet is no longer a luxury. it is a basic necessity as fundamental as electricity, heat and water. two years ago i asked you to support $50 million bond to expand internet for the first time in more than adecade . you agreed and the voters approved and those funds have already brought high-speed internet to more than 11,000 homes and businesses all across maine. thank you. [applause] we then proposed
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and you enacted with bipartisan support a new entity charged with universal internet access in maine the main authority. with this new authority up and running and with the support of american rescue funds i pledge to you tonight that every person in maine who wants to connect to high-speed internet will be able to do so by 2024 just two short years from now. [applause] we will make maine one of the most competitive
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and desirable places to live and work and raise a family and stay connected to the world. reliable childcare, affordable housing, high-speed internet all these things are key to people being able to enterand stay in the workforce and provide for their families . we've got to also do more to help people get ready for work and careers. that starts with our youngest kids u. that's why when i took office i reinvigorated the children's cabinet, neglected in previous years to accomplish 2 bowls one, to make sure all maine children and enter kindergarten prepared iland 2, to ensure all maine kids are able to enter adulthood in good health with a good education and ready for agood paying job . beginning with pre-k where delivering on these plans . pre-k we know promotes child
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development, improves early literacy, math, social emotional skills and bolsters student success. my administration increased our investment in public pre-k programs by $5.4 million resulting in 90 more pre-k classrooms across the state. [applause] and just last month we announced grants from the main plan to 14 school districts from sanford to caribou and greenville and in between to further expand pre-k to more than 500 children across maine and there is more to come. [applause] i'm also proud of
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the progress we've achieved in kindergarten through 12th grade. working with you we've raised the minimum teacher salary to $40,000 and we delivered on one of our most on the mental commitments. for the first time in maine history we met the state long-standing commitment to fund 55 percent of the cost of education. [applause] no longer will we
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underfund education in the state of maine as past administrations have done. we will maintain this commitment to our teachers and municipalities, through ourproperty taxpayers and to help us do so tonight , i propose creating education stabilization fund n. capitalized with $30 million from the general fund from that surplus to continue delivering on that promise to our kids and our schools and our teachers and our towns. itis the fiscally responsible thing and morally right thing p to do by our people . in other words, progress . we all know to that students can't learn on an empty stomach. last year the legislature led by president jackson got rid of the distinction between paid lunch and free lunch and reduced lunch and asked us to pick up the costof these school meals once edible funding ended .
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i'm pleased to announce my supplemental budget will include money to fully fund universal free meals in our schools. it is time. [applause] it's time to keep feeding our children good food, more and more of it mainegrowing, maine fish, maine farm . get more maine food into our schools and accounts and extend the growing need. i'm recommending we provide a one-time funds to offer up maine built greenhouses to any schools and communities as possible to promote community gardens to help teach kids and families how to grow theirown foods . [applause] were going to
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bring veggie so. [applause] so maine has placed a high priority on keeping classrooms open. even so, too many kids have lost the vital connections with their schools andfriends , their teachers and academic path. children need structure. they need to be in school. but kids can also learn while doing. and they can learn outside the walls of the classroom to . i want to show these kids the breadth and depth and experience of our state. let them hike the trails of western maine , learned at a 4h camp, see the tell appia fish that are fertilizing gardens, spring works in lisbon. kansas state buffet, learned for street at an outdoor center or brewer.
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explore the hurricane islands and learn how oceans are retreating from the ocean bottom. for the streams at baxter state park. see all the research done at the university of maine and you and he and the darling center, the jackson lives and the gulf of maine research institute. so much to offer. education is changing and many new and exciting ways and we should be at the forefront. preparing our children tand introducing them to the great outdoors and offering them hands-on experiences outside the classroom that will spark new perspectives, engender new friendships and deliver new skills. experiential learning will help kids reconnect while enjoying all that maine has to offer. so tonight i'm directing
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commissioner of education heather aiken if she's not out at school lunch at a cafeteria or substitute teaching in greenfield, i'm asking her to develop a new collaborative using enteral enrichment funds to get our children outdoors this summer , expose them to lived experiences that will get them ready for life and careers. we have so much to offer in maine at every level. our kids can take careers and courses career and technical education centers where they can learn critical skills and training on the equipment which we funded for the first time in decades. they can take courses in computer science, a growing and critical part of our economy. they and those courses to expand and they should be taught earlier . we're working on and we believe that exposing young people to meaningful work while they're still in school can increase our workforce participation rates.
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that's why this summer to expand our main career exploration program, connecting maine high schools to paid work that puts them on a path to future careers. we're making progress s. [applause] and when they're ready our kids can then attend one of the university of maine seven excellent campuses for one of the nationally recognized committee colleges. this week we celebrate the university of maine's achievement of our one status as a leading research university. we're so proud. [applause] this well-deserved
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designation reflects years of hard work by university staff, researchers and it will globalize the university of maine's role as a top-flight organization and keep the best and brightest on our state. congratulations chancellor dan malloy. thank you for your work. [applause] now, it is also our responsibility to ensure higher education is affordable . and i've got some ideas to tackle that to. first, i'm proposing funding to stave off any tuition hikes across the university of maine system and keep
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university education affordable. second, thinking especially about all those young people whose aspirations have been most impacted by the pandemic . i am proposing making two years of community college free so to the high school classes of 2022 2023 if you enrolled full-time in a maine community college this fall or next, the state of maine will cover every last dollar of , your tuition. and you canattain . [applause] you can obtain a one year certificate or two years and graduate unburdened
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by debt and ready to enter the workforce and if you're someone who's already started a two-yearprogram we've got your back to . we will cover the last dollar of your second year. there are so many good paying jobs in healthcare, trade, ring, construction clean energy technology and so many other industries just waiting for you. as your governor, we want you to know the future is yours and we will help you embrace it because that is progress and thank you president for helping make this happen. [applause] now, what about
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those who've already graduated and stillhave student debt ? recent graduates in maine carry an average of $33,000 for student loan debt. some carry even more debt like those who told the radio station she owes more than $100,000. that level of debt prevents young people from starting a business, affording a mortgage or paying their bills and achieving their full potential. it is simply unacceptable. thankfully, senator max hillyard has had his eyes on this problem a while now. he's drafted legislation that will streamline the tax credit after so many years of changes that have complicated and undermine the goals of this program. this legislation each received bipartisan support in committee transforms the program from an obscure bureaucratic tax benefit
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available to just a few into a strong student debt relief tool available to all. i like it. i like it and that's why tonight i'm announcing i will fund an overhaul of the opportunity tax credit consistent with the goals of this legislature. we will broaden and simplify the program eligibility criteria for those who graduate with student debt. regardless of what type of degree they have for where they graduated or what type of work they do now they will be eligible for up to $25,000 of debt relief over the course of their lifetime. so long as they have a joband make maine their home . [applause] with these changes
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, the opportunity maine tax credit will be the leading student debt relief program in the nation and a powerful tool for employers to draw people from all walks of life to work and live in the state of maine. that's progress. some of the people cominghere maybe healthcare workers . it goes without saying that our healthcare system like those in states governed by republicans and those in states governed by democrats have been pushed to the brink . our healthcare system has long lamented a shortage of
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medical professionals but te it's a problem that has grown worse particularly as the pandemic has dragged on and as so many people largely unvaccinated have to be hospitalized and received critical care. but these increased demands never stopped our healthcare workers. all of them now vaccinated from holding the hands of their patients to ease their suffering. despite their own exhaustion. just as it has not stopped our national guard members who have courageously stepped up to fight the pandemic leaving their families, jobs and communities to serve the people of maine. you all have our undying gratitude and you are all true heroes. [applause] now, i know there
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are some who would say that requiring our healthcare workers to be vaccinated against covid-19 was a bad move. but to them i say american medical association, american business association, american academy of pediatricians along with the maine medical association, maine healthcare association, maine's two largest chospital systems not to mention the us supreme court upheld the federal vaccine requirements and let them all disagree with you and they can't all be wrong. [applause]
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>> yes, our healthcare system has been. healthcare systems are neighboring states including new hampshire. and it is because of the virus, not because of the vaccine . our take away should not be to doubt the overwhelming efficacy of the vaccine that has protected those caring for us. vaccinated analysts for our healthcare workforce in new and profound ways . >> and that is exactly what
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we are doing. in my job plan we've invested $21 million to train new healthcare workers and we've already started. right dave? eastern maine, with more courses starting soon in addition to fort kent. as opposed to the healthcare workforce we invested $600 million in state and federal funds to improve maine care rates for healthcare providers. and tonight i propose that we send another $50 million in state and federal funds to our hospitals and nursing homes to sustain them through these difficult times. >> ..
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[applause] no other administration in maine history has invested as much as with our hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare providers. that is progress. and i have to say i thank god every day that we expanded medicaid on day one of my administration, extending health care to 90,000 people. [applause] and thank god we reinstated the drugs for the elderly program, cut by the previous administration, and that we enshrined coverage for pre-existing conditions in state law, that we reversed declining health insurance enrollment,
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covering 11,000 new peopledm through, and that we are lowering the cost of health care for 5,000 small businesses and their 29,000 employees. that is progress. [applause] but that cannot be the end of our efforts. the system of care for people as they grow older in maine is inadequate. it is far past time to ensure that maine people can live safely and with dignity as they age. tonight, i am announcing that i will convene a silver cabinet, a mirror to our children's cabinet, to mobilize our people, to eliminate silos across state government, and to enhance coordination and communication among all players to address
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long-term care issues and ensure that every person in maine may age safely, affordably, in a way that best serves their needs. maine people work hard their entire lives, and they deserve no less. [applause] just as people deserve reliable child care that they can count on, and a safe place to call home, and internet that isn't dial up. they deserve affordable health care that keeps them on their feet, and a quality, public education that sets them on a path to life-long success. these are investments in people, our people. maine people deserve every ounce
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of hard-won progress that we have achieved despite the pandemic. more than this, maine people have earned the progress that is yet to come. we will make progress on the opioid epidemic, on improving the child welfare system, on combatting climate change, on bringing down the cost of electricity and curbing our reliance on fossil fuels to cut energy costs, and on addressing the devastating impact of pfas on our health and livelihoods. we will make that progress. [applause] we are making progress because of this legislature and also because of fifteen people in particular. they are sitting in the gallery tonight. the fifteen members of my
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cabinet with whom you all love worked with, , andwi their staf, had been my by side and by the side of the people of maine, consistently, with focus, fortitude, courage and creativity, through some of the most turbulent times in recent history. and i want to thank them publicly tonight for everything they have done, much of it unseen, but all of it always to the enduring benefit of the people of maine. jeanne, pender, kirsten, mike, judy, pat, john, amanda, melanie, heather, doug, randy, laura, bruce, anne, you have my undying respect. thank you. [applause]
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and dr. shah, you and the cabinet have saved lives. [cheers and applause] [cheers and applause] in my state of the state address two years ago, i borrowed a quote often attributed to sam rayburn, he said, any fool can burn down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one. let's build that barn together, a solid shelter to weather every storm.
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and let's not argue about how many nails are in your nail gun, or mine, or who didn't close the barn door, or who will shovel the roof next winter. or will the very rich pay for the shingles?o will portland developers want to put condos in the loft? will the steller's sea eagle build its nest in the cupola? [laughing] and if so, will the planning board consider it an accessory dwelling? [laughing] will there be a tenants' union? will john martin want to store cull potatoes in it? [laughing] will it have starlink? look, seriously, it's been a turbulent year. but not so turbulent that we can't work together on all these things.
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and not so turbulent that the sight of mysterious sea smoke doesn't take our breath away, that the cold lapping of the atlantic ocean doesn't send us into rhythmic dreams, that the power of the maine mountains doesn't cause us to gasp and bend a knee, that the beauty and breadth of our state and the goodness of our people doesn't inspire us all to be better leaders, to take this state to greater heights. our state is beautiful. the state of our state is strong, and it is growing stronger. tonight, we recommit to progress, to recovery, to moving forward towards normalcy, to building that barn, our state, together, a safe and stable structure, with crossed rafters and a solid ridge beam, with
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firm trusses and brackets and a roof that is pointed to the heavens. that is my mission, and i ask you all to join me. because progress is why maine people sent us here, and afterl these past 23 months, i have never believed more in the people of our great state. thank you. and god bless the state of maine. [applause] thank you. thank you. >> the u.s. senate now in recess until 2:15 p.m. eastern today for their weekly party caucus lunches.


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