DATE: 1/26/2005 09:35:00 AM
I Tried, I Really Did - I had every intention of watching and blogging Governor John Baldacci's State of the State address. Honest. Was trying to remember it throughout the day, checked what channel it was on...
Yeah, you know the rest. I remembered it was happening about halfway through the speech and tried to watch it from there, but it was impossible. So I'm depending on the State of Maine website and the Bangor Daily News. The Maine website has THE SPEECH IN ALL CAPS, MAKING IT SEEM AS THOUGH BALDACCI WAS DELIVERING A SPITTLE-FLECKED RANT AT THE ASSEMBLED LEGISLATORS. Note to Maine, all caps is not easy to read.
In the speech, Baldacci talked of creating a research triangle that would focus on biomedical issues. Sounds good, but will it bring more jobs? Baldacci and Maine legislators have got to realize someday that it takes more than just bond issues providing startup costs to create jobs - Maine has got to get better at creating a culture in which job creation and entrepreneurship can flourish. And right now, with our high taxes and outrageous worker's comp costs, Maine is not exactly a business-friendly environment. Eh, maybe next year.
Baldacci then talked of CREATING A TWENTY ONE MEMBER...sorry. Creating a 21-member Maine Creative Economy Council. Again, he hopes "to build a vibrant economy on a foundation of investments" in youth, cultural institutions, entrepreneurship and technology. Spending money without figuring out why businesses have been running from Maine for decades.
The next initiative, I kind of like. It makes sense to me, since I'm a nut about having broadband access. I don't think I could ever return to dial-up. Baldacci wants to ensure that 90% of Maine communities have broadband by 2010, all of Maine is able to connect with their cell phone by 2008 (have fun putting those towers up near Camden, Gov...) and the educational system has a "technology infrastructure" so that kids can continue to play Halo 2 without a high ping rate.
Then he talks about drugs, scholarships and the rest of the filler that makes up such speeches. Then he slips something in that's truly encouraging. Forgive the ALL CAPS, but I didn't want to retype the entire section:
IN ADDITION, THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES IS IN THE PROCESS OF REDESIGNING ITS CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN THAT COME INTO STATE CUSTODY AND TO LESSEN THE TIME THAT IT TAKES TO PLACE CHILDREN IN PERMANENT ADOPTIVE FAMILIES OR TO RETURN THEM TO THEIR BIRTH PARENTS.
WE CURRENTLY HAVE 13% FEWER CHILDREN IN OUR FOSTER CARE SYSTEM THAN WE DID A YEAR AND A HALF AGO, AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OVER THE NEXT BIENNIUM, WHILE FULFILLING OUR COMMON OBLIGATION TO PROTECT CHILDREN. THERE IS NO SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCY BETTER THAN A HEALTHY FAMILY.
WITHOUT SACRIFICING OUR ABILITY TO INTERVENE WHEN IT IS REALLY NECESSARY, WE WILL SUPPORT MORE CHILDREN IN THEIR FAMILY AND COMMUNITY. MAINERS KNOW THE VALUE OF A SAFE FAMILY, AND OUR CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM MUST SUPPORT, NOT FRUSTRATE, SAFE FAMILIES.This is good news. Maine has lost too many children in the foster care system to neglectful or abusive foster parents because of a DHS that overreacts and takes children away from the birth parents. Children should only be removed from a home for abuse or severe neglect, not at the whim of a system that thinks it knows best. I hope Governor Baldacci can change the culture at DHS and accomplish this goal.
Overall, it was a pretty good speech. I hope the governor can deliver on some of these promises, and hope some of them fail miserably, (Dirigo Health, I'm thinking of you here). The governor has had a weak beginning to his term. These major initiatives will set him up nicely for the re-election campaign to come.