Alfond says: “There’s plenty of room for disagreement but when political rhetoric trumps good policy, no one wins.”

Hello. I’m Senate President Justin Alfond.

Tonight, Governor Paul LePage will deliver the State of the State to the Legislature and to the people of Maine.

For those of you who listen tonight, you may agree with what the Governor has outlined. Or you may not.

But one thing all of us, as Mainers, agree on is that we want to live in a state that prospers.

We want to know that our children will have a more secure and brighter future than our own.

We want to know that our parents, as they age in to their twilight years, can do so with dignity.

We want to know that if we work hard, we can pay our bills and put away money for our future.

We know what a growing, and prosperous economy looks like.

It’s an economy where our small businesses are thriving and innovating, with access to capital, and a skilled workforce;

It’s where our kids get an exceptional education from our public schools–from pre-K to college and beyond;

And where they choose to stay in Maine because the opportunities that lie ahead of them exist right here-in Maine.

It’s where families don’t live in fear that mounting medical bills will lead to bankruptcy or the loss of their home.

And it’s where the Maine economy is leveraging our competitive advantages–like our cities and town centers, our working forests, farms and coastland to attract people and new businesses.

Mainers have a long history of prospering. And we can do it again.

But we’ve got some work to do.

The number of families who are living in poverty and homeless is rising more than ever before.

In fact, and sadly, one in four children in Maine is hungry–it’s the third highest rate of child hunger in the nation. That’s unacceptable.

Our economy is still lagging behind the rest of our New England neighbors and job growth is nearly stagnant.

While our New England neighbors have regained ALL of their jobs lost during the recession, Maine has only regained one-third.

We can do better than that.

As lawmakers you put us in charge to make the tough choices and come up with solutions to these challenges. And you’re right: it’s up to us.

Inevitably there are those places where we may not find agreement–whether it’s providing health care to 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans through MaineCare expansion or keeping our funding promise to Maine’s towns and cities through revenue sharing.

There’s plenty of room for disagreement but when political rhetoric trumps good policy, no one wins. We were sent to Augusta to serve the people of Maine.

It’s been said before: no one party has the monopoly on good ideas. And, it’s true. The people of Maine don’t care if it’s a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, they want solutions.

We must work together to find those areas of common ground. Areas where we can work together–with our Republican colleagues and with the Governor to move our state forward.

Thank you for listening. This is Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland.