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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Lauds Key Provisions of Economic Stimulus Plan, Urges Passage
WASHINGTON, DC and AUGUSTA, ME—Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap returned to Maine late yesterday after meeting with White House staff privately and with other Secretaries of State from around the country and expressed excitement about President Obama's proposed economic stimulus package making its way through Congress.
“We've all watched the precipitous economic downturn with great concern,” said Dunlap. “What I like about the current plan is how it is focused on getting people to work on projects that have been on hold for a long time because of scarce funds. I heartily endorse this plan, because it will have tremendous policy and economic benefits to the people of Maine, enhance our ability to accomplish our mission, and ultimately get Maine moving again.”
Michael Blake of the Executive Office of the President gave a detailed presentation to the National Association of Secretaries of State over the weekend about key aspects of the stimulus plan. “It's important this get done quickly,” said Blake. “The job losses reported in January—announced at well over half a million jobs lost—would be the equivalent of every one in Maine losing their jobs.” Under negotiations in Congress, the President's plan calls for $27 billion in highway infrastructure projects, a plan Dunlap called vital to highway safety. “As drivers, we all do our best to keep the roads safe,” said Dunlap. “But if roads and bridges are in serious disrepair, the risk factors we face on the roads multiply,” he said, also noting that tens of millions dollars worth of projects that have been deferred could be effected immediately, putting contractors to work this building season.
Prominent in Blake's presentation was discussion of digital archiving, reflecting the President's priority of accountable and transparent government. “We couldn't agree more, but we've never had the resources or manpower to digitize government records,” said Dunlap. “Under the President's proposal, not only would we put a lot of people to work learning important skills, we would also achieve a watershed milestone in historic preservation and openness in government records.” Dunlap pointed out that digital archiving has been in the planning stages in Maine for years, but with no capital to put the plans into effect, “we've been working on the smallest and least expensive pieces of what we should be doing.”
Also prominent in the White House presentation were plans to infuse resources for small business and education, as well as housing and veteran's benefits. Specifically, the package includes $730 million for loans for small businesses, including microloans for small businesses needing a small injection to get started. “Getting small businesses jumpstarted with small, manageable loans will make an immediate difference right away,” said Dunlap. “Small business is the number one driver of Maine 's economy, and is the lifeblood of every small Maine town,” he added, noting that over 79,000 entities are registered in the Department's Division of Corporations. “It's exciting that the President has put this forth so prominently, and that the Congress has agreed.”
“Maine 's senators have played a key role in the discussions about the stimulus package,” said Dunlap. “I think that indicates the importance of Maine 's role in the outcome. Not only is the stimulus focused on projects that are ‘shovel-ready', it does so without extending reliance on Federal funds for state functions, and thus shows great respect for the role of state governments in maintaining our nation's infrastructure while giving a vital boost to the economy. The faster Congress completes its work, the sooner we can begin ours,” he said.
The Senate voted Monday night to end debate on the Senate version of the stimulus bill, and voted to pass their version on Tuesday. The bill still faces more votes in both the House and Senate before final passage.
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