As we approach the winter holidays, we often look back and assess what we have accomplished and set goals for the coming year. We accomplished much during my administration, but there is more to be done.
As my time in office comes to a close, let me first thank my wife Ann for her service to the people of Maine as First Lady. You have made Maine proud, and our family is proud of you.
I also thank our children. I appreciate my family’s willingness to share my time with the duties of being Governor. It’s a difficult balance.
As a homeless kid living on the streets of Lewiston, I never imagined I would one day make it to the Blaine House.
I came into office saying I will put people before politics, and I have tried to do that. Politics as usual puts our most vulnerable Mainers at risk.
I shook things up in Augusta and got results.
I promised to pay off the hospital debt, and we did.
I promised to reform welfare and put more Mainers back to work, and we did.
I promised to restore the Rainy Day fund so programs don’t have to be slashed when the economy slows down, and we did.
I promised to lower taxes, and we did.
We reduced the size of state government, but at the same time improved services and gave our state employees the benefits they deserve. We reversed furlough days and reinstated their merit raises.
Now all Mainers are experiencing strong, record-setting economic growth. We end 2018 with so many new records:
- a record-high number of employers;
- a record-high number of private-sector jobs;
- record-high revenues for the state;
- record-low unemployment; and
- the fastest net-earnings growth in New England.
Our poverty rate has declined to the lowest it’s been since 2005, and we have the fewest number of children in poverty in the past 17 years.
This summer, we made critical reforms in our child welfare system.
We’ve also made investments in fighting the opioid crisis and helping people get rehabilitated.
Maine’s future is the brightest it has been in decades: there’s more new businesses, more money in your paycheck, and better opportunities for our children.
And that’s what it’s all about: our children and the future of this great state.
In my Inaugural address, I made a pledge to the Maine people. I said I would:
“put you before politics: The parents trying to make a better life for their kids; The retirees trying to hold onto their homes on a fixed income; The college graduate trying to find a good-paying job; The entrepreneurs with the courage to take a chance on an idea; and The taxpayers tired of footing the bill for a bloated establishment in Augusta. It is time to make state government accountable. It is time to deliver value. It is time to put Mainers first.”
Those were the promises I made, and those are the promises I’ve kept.
It has been the biggest privilege of my life to work on your behalf as your Governor.
I fought for you every day, and it has not been easy. But I would not have had it any other way.
Thank you for listening and Merry Christmas to all.