LePage says civil emergency meant to help state employees

Mario Moretto/Bangor Daily News

Gov. Paul LePage speaks with reporters outside his office at the State House on Thursday.

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday defended his proclamation of a civil emergency and said he intended to use his broadened authority for the benefit of state employees.

“It is my goal, solely, to get money in state employees’ pockets as quickly as possible,” he told reporters after meeting with legislative leaders.

On Wednesday evening, LePage declared the civil emergency 

as a result of the ongoing shutdown of the federal government, which has stopped the flow of federal dollars to state programs and workers and caused more than 100 layoffs of federally funded state employees.

LePage said Thursday that if the shutdown doesn’t end within a couple weeks, more than 2,700 federally funded state workers would be off the job. He said his emergency powers, which allow him to circumvent state laws and rules in order to manage the crisis, would give him the flexibility needed to minimize the damage to state employees and services.

Initially, it was unclear exactly what rules or laws he hoped to bypass. Top Democrats have called the move “unsettling,” while the largest union representing state workers said it was an “unnecessary power grab.”

On Thursday, LePage gave some clarification, but it was not enough to appease his critics.

For example, the governor said some state employees must be given 15 days notice of a pending layoff because of their union contract. But due to the shutdown, the state may not be able to afford two weeks of pay. In that situation, LePage would instead institute an immediate layoff, which would speed up the process of applying for unemployment benefits, he said.

The governor also said he would lift the requirement that state workers collecting unemployment actively look for a job. That’s because he plans to bring all laid-off state employees back to work after the shutdown ends, he said.

“I don’t want them to go look for work,” he said. “We need them. They’re trained and they’re important to us.”

After the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Michael Thibodeau, R-Winterport, said the governor had clearly laid out his case for declaring an emergency.

“Gov. LePage’s first priority is to keep paying workers, protect their benefits, and allow them to put food on their tables,” he said. “With this declaration, the governor is trying to assure that these state workers receive unemployment benefits as quickly as possible. The civil emergency declaration is an administrative tool that the governor is using to manage this unprecedented situation.”

Still, Democrats said Thursday that they wanted more specifics from the governor. They fear he could use his expanded authority to suspend the state’s labor relations law, allowing him to break state workers’ union contracts.

House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said that during the morning meeting with LePage, Democrats proposed that LePage outline exactly what powers the governor’s emergency authority included, what laws he intended to waive and when the emergency would end.

That idea was met with a “cold shoulder,” Eves said.

Administration officials countered that the governor had no specific laws in mind when he declared the emergency, only the knowledge that he would need increased executive flexibility to handle the crisis.

Eves recalled LePage’s budget veto in June — which could have resulted in a state government shutdown if lawmakers hadn’t overridden it — and said he doubted LePage’s assertion that the emergency powers would be a benefit to state workers.

“Does this pass the straight-face test?” he asked reporters. “This is a governor who tried to shut our state down. … It’s very important that the governor communicates very clearly. To question the details of the proclamation is within our responsibility. We wouldn’t be doing what was responsible if we just said, ‘OK, Governor. You’re the first in the nation to do this. Why don’t you just go ahead?’”

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, chastised Democrats and others who have speculated about ulterior motives for the governor declaring an emergency.

“The idea that this is some sort of conspiracy the governor has, or some sort of plan he has to do something bad, is just really ridiculous,” Fredette said. “We ought to embrace the opportunity to work with the chief executive so that we can get through this as a state. … This is not a time to be suspicious and to play politics.”

Chris Quint, executive director of the Maine State Employees Association, said the union had been left in the dark as to the governor’s plans for addressing the impact of the shutdown on state employees.

“I wouldn’t call [the meetings between the union and the administration] that happened over the past few days ‘negotiations,’” Quint said. “We feel this action here is, instead of negotiating, he’s dropped a nuclear bomb on us.”

Quint also echoed the Democrats’ complaint that they had not been consulted about the emergency proclamation ahead of time. The union and top lawmakers all said they heard about the governor’s plan at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, just 10 minutes before the announcement went out to the general public.

The governor said that the idea of asserting emergency authority was raised by his legal staff on Wednesday. LePage’s appears to be the only statewide emergency declaration made as a result of the funding crisis, but several counties in Utah have declared similar emergencies.

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Comments

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Notice the picture in his office

on the wall behind Pauly...that is what his mind was on drugs back in the 70's....

MEGAN PARKS's picture

This is great...

"For example, the governor said some state employees must be given 15 days notice of a pending layoff because of their union contract. But due to the shutdown, the state may not be able to afford two weeks of pay. In that situation, LePage would instead institute an immediate layoff, which would speed up the process of applying for unemployment benefits, he said."

That is so kind and thoughtful of him ... except with the Gov't shutdown and employees all laid off, who is going to process their unemployment claims? And with no Federal money, who is going to pay their unemployment claims?

If this wasn't so sad, it'd be laughable.

Sydney Dixon-Thorne's picture

In the hands of a normal

In the hands of a normal person this could be a good thing.But,we are talking about Paul LePage here.This is just downright scary.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Pauly

Has the same play book from the Cheesehead in WI...this guy cannot be trusted for anything when it comes to employees....

FRANK EARLEY's picture

This whole thing just reeks of abuse of power........

We have the only Governor in the country proclaiming a Civil Emergency. What could be so threatening in Maine, that isn't causing concern in other states. I just don't trust him. We have a Republican Representative chastising the Democrats for questioning what some might consider questionable behavior by our Republican Governor, in response to the shut down of the American Government by the Republican Party. A Governor with a history of somewhat idiotic behavior as a result of his endearing support of the radical wing of the Republican Tea Party movement.
Now given all that, why would anyone have any misgivings of the true nature of Paul LePage. He has just declared what effectively boils down to a form of "Marshal Law" in the State of Maine. In a very small amount of time he could do a lot of damage if he wanted to. I personally don't feel safe handing Paul LePage that much power with no oversight. Especially when he has his fellow cronies crying fowl at the first attempt at transparency.
He's got something up his sleeve........

Steve  Dosh's picture

LePage says civil emergency meant to help state employees

Mainers , 14:40 est ?
The American people demand a ransom for doing - their - jobs all you tea partiers and your governor is a certified nut case , Mainers
/s , Steve :D
http://www.govisithawaii.com/2010/09/14/where-to-visit-macadamia-nut-far...
^^ not necessarily an endorsement ^^

Bob White's picture

We wouldn't be in this spot

We wouldn't be in this spot if the President would negotiate. I haven't seen a President with so many problems through his administration. As they say the wheels are coming of the wagon the country is in such disarray because of the lack of leadership. Mr. Obama's kick the can down the road type of politics. I must say Jimmy Cater must be loving this it makes him look like a great President. President Obama wasn't lying when he spoke about hope and change we are sure hoping for some change that's for sure. I wonder what else the President can force to shut so he can get as much pain to the people of America. God help us all.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

God did help

He gave us a newly elected President, he stiffed the righteous indignation on my I wear God on my sleeve Romney and Bachmann whose both had said God was calling them to run and win...maybe you need to call on another God say your dog or something that will listen to you total lunatic righteous right.

Doesn't that meet your Gawd help us all, cry? He made a judgement call like the 55 other million who elected the new President, don't you accept GODS WILL even now?

Jason Theriault's picture

Your perspective...

First off, There was negotiation. The Clean CR has $70 billion in spending reductions that were negotiated by the republicans. So what this comes down to is that Boehner is worthless. He cannot control the house and keep the radicals in line. So there is no point in meeting with him because he cannot deliver what he promises. Obama might as well negotiate with me, because Boehner and me can deliver the same amount of votes.

Also, and this is something the house GOP needs to learn -politics is perception. And the perception is they are causing this, as the polls show them falling to 2008-09 levels of approval. Unless they get their act together, Obama will get to take a victory lap in his last 2 years with a democratic house and senate.

Just remember what happened in the 08 election - Democrats swept. That could happen again in 2014 if the tea party isn't careful.
You think you hate ObamaCare, just wait until Obama can introduce gun legislation with a Democrat house and Senate. Or immigration reform. Bank reform. TAX REFORM.

=)

Bob White's picture

I'm not sure where you get

I'm not sure where you get your information on the whole situation but I do know if someone gets information from somewhere else then you do, your people call him a nut and other names. Myself I listen to both sides and let me tell you I can see plenty of problems coming from both direction. The GOP may be experiencing low numbers however the latest polls showed that Democrats where at about the same percentage point so I think they are all losers. Of course you turn a blind eye to that. I will agree with you on a couple of your statements yes the Democrats can sweep in 2014 but don't forget there is plenty of time before that. As long as Obama keeps screwing up like he has been through his whole time as President( seems like he's been doing more of it lately) I don't think it will be such a slam dunk as you think. The other point I agree with you if given the chance he will screw up a bunch of other stuff as well.
One thing about the Governor its funny how when he does something you girls don't agree with your panties get all in a bunch and cry fowl but as time goes on the fowl you cried about so loudly tends to amount to nothing, so as you ladies cry just know this will pass and you will have more none stories to cry about produces by people like yourself.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

As of today getting worst for GOP/TP...Taps in the background

Shutdown debate damages GOP

By a 22-point margin (53 percent to 31 percent), the public blames the Republican Party more for the shutdown than President Barack Obama – a wider margin of blame for the GOP than the party received during the poll during the last shutdown in 1995-96.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio departs the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, en route to the White House to a meeting with President Barack Obama.

Just 24 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion about the GOP, and only 21 percent have a favorable view of the Tea Party, which are both at all-time lows in the history of poll.

And one year until next fall’s midterm elections, American voters prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress to a Republican-controlled one by eight percentage points (47 percent to 39 percent), up from the Democrats’ three-point advantage last month (46 percent to 43 percent).

http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/10/20903624-nbcwsj-poll-shutd...

Jason Theriault's picture

GALLUP

First off, I get my polling data from Gallup.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/165317/republican-party-favorability-sinks-re...

Secondly, I didn't claim either side was right or wrong. I watch both sides, and debate with a very ardent conservative daily(my pop). I keep a open mind.

And yes, there is plenty of time, but if they take this too far, like a default, that pain is going to stick around, and at that point it may not make a difference what the president does.

BTW - It's hard to take your "I keep an open mind" when you wear your bias on your sleeve. Calling the other side "girls" not only shows your about as open minded as Fort Knox, but it also implies that you see women as weaker. Consider that when you think of how Obama got 55% to Mitt's 44% of women voters.

Bob White's picture

Jason

"I watch both sides, and debate with a very ardent conservative daily(my pop). I keep a open mind." YEA RIGHT...... I see you and your group seem to skirt around the issues that the President's administration continue to have. He continues to fumble through his years as President. He will go down as one of the most wishy washy Presidents to have ever served, and you ad the Democrats have the majority. It shows his lack of leadership and his inability to unite.
Now he will probably do a short term deal, his kick the can down the road politics. Some day we will need to take care of business and stop spending more then we take in the credit card will be maxed out.
Jason as far as the "girls comment well I'm sorry your so sensitive (it must be that time of month for you) If I had said your a horses ass would you think I feel horse's ass's are weaker?

PS. To the person that responded to my comment a while back and said "this President hasn't had a government shut down" . Well guess what he has one know.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

do a short term deal, ????

Yes you got it right that Boehner is always proposed a short term deal just like the 6 weeks to the Ceiling hike...

Again NOW who is doing the short term deals....go look back at all of the other SHORT term deals in the last 3 years in the house the Repubs have offered and put on the table and then come back with something with teeth....

Jason Theriault's picture

Just funny

I want you to re-read your arguments, and start picking out the facts. You accuse me of not having an open mind, but your entire argument is made up of opinions.

Let me show you what I mean:
"He will go down as one of the most wishy washy Presidents to have ever served"

Really? How do you measure wishy-washiness? Who was the previous most wishy-washy president?

How about this - instead of trying to convince me by insulting the president and calling me names, how about trying to convince me like an adult. Make an argument backed by facts. I can respect that, and will read it and consider it.

And I'm not sensitive to being called a girl. I just find it amusing how little respect you have for them, because if you did respect women, you wouldn't be using them as an insult.

Oh, and
"If I had said your a horses ass would you think I feel horse's ass's are weaker?"

Well, I would think YOUR grammar stinks(here is a corrected sentence):
If I had said you're a horse's ass would you think I feel horse's asses are weaker?

Bob White's picture

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter

Jason Theriault's picture

...as my teacher would say, show your work.

...as my teacher would say, show your work. Why is Jimmy Carter the previous most wishy washy president.
While I liked him as a president, I think Bush sr was more wishy washy. But think the wishy-washiest was Franklin Pierce.

And thats the crux of my point, how can you claims Obama was the wishy-washiest without a valid way to compare presidents? Your whole argument is based on "I'm angry, I've been convinced that Obama is bad, so I will hate him." And what I want from you is for you to look at what you're saying, and try and prove it. If you can get evidence that Obama is the worst ever, show me.

Trust me, I can cite numerous examples of far worse presidents, or at the very least, much bigger mistakes made by presidents.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Ditto and another source as well with the same from WSJ

http://elections.firedoglake.com/2013/10/09/poll-finds-more-blame-gop-fo...

All polling since the government shutdown fight started indicates most of the political damage is falling on the Republicans. A new AP poll found the American people are more likely to blame the current situation on Congressional Republicans than Obama or the Democrats. From AP:

Overall, 62 percent mainly blamed Republicans for the shutdown. About half said Obama or the Democrats in Congress bear much responsibility. [...]

Most Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, the poll suggests, with 53 percent unhappy with his performance and 37 percent approving of it. Congress is scraping rock bottom, with a ghastly approval rating of 5 percent

Steve  Dosh's picture

Bob , 14:45 est ? " We

Bob , 14:45 est ?
" We wouldn't be in this spot if the President would negotiate. "
You premise is wrong
He's negotiating as we speak and not just with the tea sippers . ..er partiers . ...
You may have forgotten that our president postponed travel to Red China to negotiate with the Communists because of the sequester and the US federal shutdown . Diplomacy is - always - cheaper than war , Republicans
It's EZ to start a fight but difficult to conclude one , as you are finding out right now again ( like Iraq , WMDs , and .AFghanistan )
It's egg on your faces
Everyone knows this
Everywhere
/s , Steve :D

Bob White's picture

Steve

A sequester that he ordered. Is this the same guy that told the Russians wait till he is re-elected and then they can talk? The Russians are not our friends. Your talking about the same guy who was hell bent on going after Syria with military force? I'm not the one making threats promises that I'm not keeping and trying to inflict as much pain to the American people. So Steve its not me or anyone else that has egg on his face then our President.

Call Harry Reid, tell him to

Call Harry Reid, tell him to allow funding the Congress passed. The Democrats are forcing as much pain as possible with their shut down. The majority of Americans are now beginning to realize that the Democrats are behind this shut down, despite the main stream media reading the Whitehouse talking points.Obamas new low approval of 37% proves it.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

The majority of Americans .....LOL

STUDY: Watching Only Fox News Makes You Less Informed Than Watching No News At All

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/study-watching-fox-news-makes-you-less-in...

____________________More of the nonsensical NO backup from the troll Dennis the Menace.....

The Republican Party is viewed favorably by only 28 percent of the American public, a 10-percentage-point drop in just the past month, according to the latest Gallup poll.
___________________________

Government shutdown: how the GOP descended into civil war
Monitor Breakfast Government shutdown still all about Obamacare, hard-liner warns

Obama to Republicans: 'We can't make extortion routine'
Foreign reaction morphs from amusement to alarm
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A new poll suggests Americans are mostly holding Republicans responsible for the partial government shutdown. 63% percent say it's the GOP's fault, half put the blame on President Barack Obama and the Democrats.
It's the lowest favorability number ever recorded for either party by Gallup, which began asking the question in 1992. Democrats’ favorability also dropped in the last month, down four percentage points from 47 percent to 43 percent.

The poll was conducted from Oct. 3 to Oct. 6, in the early days of the ongoing government shutdown.

--_____________3 DAYS AGO

Polls: Public places more blame for shutdown on GOP

http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/07/20857912-polls-public-pl...

AL PELLETIER's picture

And your republican congress?

5%

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Repub typical of "We will work with you BS"

President Barack Obama has been attempting to persuade moderate Republicans to break from Tea Party conservatives and force Boehner, the top Republican in Washington, to allow a vote on a short-term spending bill to end a U.S. government shutdown and take the threat of a debt default off the table.

The White House has invited all House Republicans to a meeting on Thursday but Boehner limited the group to 18 Republicans who hold leadership positions.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/09/us-usa-fiscal-obama-disappoint...

Jason Theriault's picture

BS

"there are certain state employees who must be given 15 days notice of a pending layoff, but due to the shutdown, the state may not be able to afford two weeks of pay. An immediate layoff, in that situation, would speed up the process of applying for unemployment benefits, LePage said."

How is an immediate layoff better? That makes no sense at all. You want to take someone making $50K+ a year, and instead of being forced to pay for 2 weeks of notice, you want to boot them immediately to lower paying unemployment?

Also - the government will still be funding those positions, so the state will get paid regardless. So front the money.

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