Governor James B. Longley, January 2, 1975
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Associate Justices, former Governors, and Members of the 107th Legislature.
Tonight I begin my duties as Governor of Maine with full realization of the awesome responsibility that lies before me. If history records me as a good governor, it will be due in large part to the men who have preceded me as chief executive and brought us to this place in time and history.
Each was a man of his time and made his contribution just as I must be a man of my time and try to make my contribution. But time does not run in cycles — like on the face of a clock or on the squares of a calendar. The clock hand always sweeps back to where it started, and once a page is torn from a calendar, there are other days waiting to be used. In our youth each new day dawns without a sense of loss and with the same vigor and vitality as the one before it. However, with maturity comes the realization that time is not a comforting circle but a straight line. The line never bends, and we realize we are being rushed to our own destinies.
Time is running in a straight line for Maine.
Time has brought Maine to a critical point in her history. Hard decisions have to be made. Maine has to be headed in a direction that will bring her people a quality of life without forcing them to sacrifice the things that have made the State unique in both spirit and beauty.
In this regard, I want to outline to you tonight what I believe — what I feel needs to be done — and how I think we can accomplish it.
I believe Maine has had management by crisis and that this approach to dealing with problems must be stopped. We must stop waiting for emergencies before acting. Now is the time we must plan for the future so we will no longer have management by crisis.
I propose that beginning tomorrow we initiate a new and different method of operation … designed to put Maine in a position of leadership among the states. For the next twelve months, I urge that we establish a “dualistic approach” in reshaping our state government.
With the realistic knowledge that time stops for no man … and with the realization that we should split the time line to provide for two meaningful avenues of responsibility, we should take these steps:
First, we must keep the store open and run the day-to-day operations of State Government to the best of our ability.
On the other side of the time line, we must pause and consider the direction we are going and our ultimate destiny.
Anything short of this dualistic approach can only allow us to deal with emergencies as they occur — without the benefits of a strong direction for the State of Maine and without the presence of much needed long-range goals and objectives.
First, let me address myself to side one of this dualistic approach — keeping the store open. I have asked all major department heads to meet with me tomorrow morning — at seven (7) A.M. — in order that I may outline to them my initial, basic approach to day-to-day operations of state government, including what I will require to be a fundamental policy of service to the public … namely, immediate consideration of the demands of all citizens for action on their problems. This is a policy I will pursue on a regular basis so that there will be a unified approach to the service to the people of Maine.
I also ask the legislature to declare a one-year moratorium on new programs that will cost money, unless the money can be found or is now in an existing program with a lower priority of need. My budget will include more for the elderly because of dollars we will save in other areas, as I feel the needs of the elderly in Maine are our top priority presently.
The people of Maine deserve this period of reassessment — a period in which we can fully examine the bureaucracy and establish our priorities.
As Maine continues her journey down the straight line of time, let’s take this vital pause so we can make certain that the decisions we make and the directions we take will be the very best possible for our State.
Such a pause will not be an easy rest stop, but a period of hard work and dedication in which we must make certain that every single tax dollar is being spent to its maximum benefit and that every single program already existing within State Government serves no other purpose but to aid and assist the people of Maine.
I cannot require the Legislature to take this brief pause and honor this moratorium. A chief executive does not exercise that type authority over the Legislature and that is the way it should be. But, my own legislative program will honor this moratorium.
I would hope, if we honor this moratorium, that this session could be abbreviated and that we would come together at a later date with a clearer concept of our financial status and the direction we need to take.
It would be unfair to ask the Legislature to honor a moratorium on new spending programs without offering the full cooperation and assistance of the Governor’s office. I am expressing my willingness to cooperate by offering non-spending programs or those I feel will save tax dollars. I also have a committee working almost around-the-clock with one thought in mind — that thought is to allow me to present to this Legislature a balanced budget. Not only will this moratorium give us an opportunity to place a belt around the growing bureaucracy . . . it will allow us to examine each of our goals, objectives and dreams for Maine.
Within the next few weeks, I plan to present to the Legislature bills that will make an initial thrust at campaign reform. Hopefully this legislation will take some meaningful steps in the regulation of lobbying activities and will clarify present laws relating to expense and contribution filings by political candidates. I will also ask the Legislature to consider action to restrict agencies of government, including the university, from spending taxpayer money to promote the spending of additional taxpayer dollars. This is governmental incest at its worst and must be eliminated.
I also plan to present legislation to bring about further reorganization in the Executive Branch of government. Previous administrations have recommended that the Department of Commerce and Industry be keyed more with the Governor’s Office as a more effective tool for economic development. I intend to support and pursue this approach in my reorganization efforts.
We can also use this moratorium period to consider some constitutional changes which I feel will help bring about a more efficient operation of State Government.
As Governor, I will support the following:
1. Legislation to abolish the Executive Council and to place its confirming powers with some other body.
2. Legislation to eliminate the office of state treasurer. The duties of this office can be easily absorbed in the Department of Finance and Administration.
3. A legislative study to analyze the role of the Attorney General and the relationship of that office to the Legislature and the Governor’s Office. The Legislature might want to consider the possibility of allowing the Governor to play a part in the selection of the Attorney General. And/or make available to the Governor his own legal counsel which he now does not have.
Legislation requiring annual sessions of the Legislature so we can stop fooling ourselves and the public with special sessions.
5. A constitutional amendment to make the office of Secretary of State elective and to have the person elected to that office be the first in line of succession as Governor. I feel there is a great need to have an official elected by all the people of Maine ready to assume the office of Governor should a chief executive die in office.
A NEW EXPERIMENT
When I started my campaign for Governor as an Independent, many said it was an impossible dream. However, we now know the dream was possible. Some are saying now that a balanced budget and full cooperation between an Independent Governor, a Democratic House and a Republican Senate are impossible dreams. But, I believe these dreams, too, can become possible and become a reality. Many members of this Legislature have already expressed to me their willingness to cooperate. And I seek the cooperation of the rest and pledge my cooperation to all.
In the four years ahead of us, I will be asking for this cooperation from the Legislature, elected officials and from the citizens of Maine. But I will not be asking anyone to forsake political parties even though they will be working with an Independent Governor. I am merely asking that the good of the State and all of its citizens be placed above any other consideration.
It is a trying time for the people of Maine. They deserve nothing less than a unified government that will try to solve the many problems that beset our society.
Since my election, I have sat down with the leaders of both parties, not separately but at the same time. This is the approach I plan to continue to take for the duration of my administration. I believe the pursuit of any other avenue would be a violation of the trust of the voters of Maine who elected an Independent Governor.
I am willing and ready to work equally with both parties. I believe the parties are willing and ready to give me the same consideration.
We are embarking on a new experiment in government and the prospect is an exciting one. No other state in the nation has an Independent Governor, a Democratic House of Representatives and a Republican Senate. The eyes of the nation will be on Maine to see what can be accomplished to see how we handle this unique experiment. I am convinced the nation will see that much will be accomplished — not because Maine has a Democratic House, a Republican Senate or an Independent Governor — but because I believe Maine people when the chips are down will be fair and will set aside, all other considerations to work together for the good of the entire State. I believe the Legislature will be as fair as they are entitled to expect from their Governor and in any’ event, I have confidence that the people of Maine not only expect fairness and are entitled to fairness, but will demand fairness from the Governor and their Legislature.
My election as an Independent, Governor has been interpreted many different ways by different people. I give it only one interpretation, and that.is that the people of Maine elected a man they felt would devote his full energies to being the Governor of all the people the next four years. Being the type of Governor the people of Maine want and expect the next four years is my only interest and goal. I have said I hope my election will strengthen the two parties; but I am not saying to my supporters or anyone that they should associate themselves with either of the parties, nor am, I saying they should charter a course as Independents. I say simply that everyone should be involved in the political process. Whether that involvement is within the structure of the major parties or outside is strictly a matter of personal conviction.
My role the next four years will be that of the Governor of all the people of Maine, whether they be Independents, Republicans or Democrats. I believe the Governor’s and the Legislature’s mutual objective must be government for the people, by the people and of the people first and foremost … and partisan politics second: This is what they are expecting of all their leaders, whether they be in the Governor’s office or in the House and Senate: It is incumbent upon each of us to listen to the voices that want and demand a government that can rise above partisan politics. I believe the voters cast their ballots that way in November and I believe this might be even more true two and four years from today.
The problems facing the 107th Legislature are going to be perhaps the most complex in our State’s history. One of the things that must be carefully examined is LD 1994 which was passed by the l06th Legislature in an effort to equalize educational opportunities in Maine by having the State assume a greater burden in the funding of education. While the objectives of the l06th Legislature and LD 1994 were good, I am afraid the Legislature did a grave injustice to the men and women who are now beginning legislative service. The 106th passed a major and costly piece of legislation without providing adequately for its future funding and as a result, the l07th Legislature is now faced with the task of finding those additional funds or altering the legislation. I hope, this and future legislatures will avoid that mistake by placing price tags on all programs and funding them. As far as LD 1994 is concerned, I pledge to the 107th Legislature my full support and cooperation for any meaningful alterations that will make the law workable and fair without imposing an unreasonable tax burden on the citizens of Maine. I would hope the Legislature would not repeal this legislation but hopefully, it will consider modifying or eliminating the construction and vehicle spending that are mushrooming costs of education.
Another challenge will be to examine the effectiveness of Government at all levels, not only that located in Augusta. There is a great need to take a long look at our city and particularly county governments in Maine and to eliminate duplicate and overlapping programs that are costing tax dollars without providing any additional services.
However, the major challenge facing each of us is to find more and better jobs for the people of this State.
A major thrust of my administration will be to attract to this State the types of industries and firms that will be as good citizens as the Maine people they employ.
I have already started to seek industries that will provide quality jobs for Maine people. This search will not end during my four years in office.
We must continue to develop a strong educational system in Maine from the elementary level to the university. This system must be structured with only one thought in mind –and that is to meet the needs of all our people. And, it must, by necessity, be the guiding light as Maine charts her course toward the year two thousand.
We must prepare our youth for meaningful jobs that can be found in Maine instead of training them for jobs they must go outside the State to find or which cannot be found at all.
The comment has been made that operations of government cannot be treated like a business. I reject this philosophy because to say that good business practices cannot be brought to government is to say it is the nature of government to be wasteful and inefficient.
Common sense alone dictates that the absence of sound business practices in government can only lead us in two directions, both bad:
(1) The temptation to overspend, dictated by the influence of politicians who seek voter security via what I term campaign promises that cost the taxpayer more than any benefit he could ever receive.
(2) Elected officials who become champions of attractive sounding programs which offer free services and/or aid to their constituency, which are close to bankrupting America as well as states like Maine.
Nothing is free or at least there is no free ride for very long regardless of how the costs may be camouflaged. Yet over the years we have added programs on top of programs, personnel on top of personnel, state buildings on top of state buildings to the point where our state government now requires well over a million dollars a day to stay in business.
And, we are all well aware of the source from where these needed dollars come. True, unlike a business, it is not the purpose of our State Government to show a profit. But the time has arrived to examine the bottom line . . . and determine if we are getting a dollar’s worth of service for every dollar spent.
Despite the uncertainty of the times in which we live and despite the fact that it is time for some hard decisions to be made, I believe Maine’s future is a bright one. I believe we can provide more and better jobs for our people. I believe we can preserve and protect our environment. I believe we can help establish pride and dignity for all of our people, including pride in their jobs for state employees. Parenthetically, I want to say that some of the most dedicated, talented and loyal employees are state employees and I seek their help in attracting and retaining more of the same. I believe we can do these things by returning to a basic Maine value and concept of working together for the good of all. Finally, as a great American … Abraham Lincoln … said so well:
“Some people inherit great honors,
Some people deserve great honors,
Some people have great honors thrust upon them.”
The State of Maine has thrust a great honor on Jim Longley and to paraphrase a famous son of Maine ….
“My time will be your time, and
Your time will be my time.”
James B. Longley
Governor of Maine