LePage blames liberals for gridlock in Maine

Darren Fishell/Bangor Daily News

Republican Gov. Paul LePage addresses hundreds at a Portland Community Chamber event Thursday morning.

PORTLAND  — Republican Gov. Paul LePage, up for re-election this year, denounced political extremism while reiterating a disdain for newspapers, Medicaid expansion and what he views as loopholes in the state’s welfare system during a speech at a Portland business event Thursday morning.

“In Augusta, there are some great Republicans and some great Democrats — the problem is not in those two groups,” LePage said in response to a question about whether the two-party system in Maine is broken. “The problem is that we have ideologues that are progressives and liberal — there’s nothing we can do. And, you know, on our side we have a couple that are libertarian. … I don’t know what to do with them. But they are the outskirts. They really are. They are on the fringes. The problem is when the fringe is the leaders, you have a problem. And that’s what we have in Maine right now.”

Partisan fights in the Legislature were one theme of LePage’s presentation to about 500 attendees of a Portland Community Chamber of Commerce breakfast at which the governor detailed what he believes were successes and failures of his first term in office as he makes his bid for a second.

One fight still lingers over a bill to immediately disburse millions of state dollars to nursing homes, which have been underfunded in recent years. Republicans blamed Democrats Wednesday for failing to reach a deal on the bill submitted by the governor. The budget-writing Appropriations Committee had crafted a compromise bill that was killed in committee last week after LePage said he would veto anything but his original draft.

“Now I’m going to have to force them back,” said LePage, who has the ability to call lawmakers back for an emergency session if certain conditions — such as a budget shortfall — apply.

LePage echoed claims from Republican leaders that some nursing homes face such dire financial conditions that they might have to close.

Looking back on his first term, LePage told the Portland audience he was frustrated that bills to change the electronic benefit transfer program for public assistance recipients, create new business incentives aimed at large companies and eliminate state revenue sharing with cities and towns failed.

Of four failed proposals to place new requirements or restrictions on use of state benefits, LePage said rejection of a bill that would have limited what can be purchased with electronic benefit transfer cards was “the one that killed me.”

“It was what I considered a no-brainer,” LePage said of the proposal to outlaw use of EBT cards at strip clubs and in businesses where alcohol and tobacco account for at least half of sales.

Echoing a refrain he’s sounded more frequently in recent weeks from the governor’s office and on the campaign trail, LePage blamed liberal Democrats. “It went down by party lines,” he said. “Folks, it went down by party lines.”

LePage’s presentation contrasted with Democratic Senate President Justin Alfond and Republican Sen. Andre Cushing’s appraisals of the Legislature’s work during a teleconference with the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce during a break May 1 in a busy schedule handling 48 gubernatorial vetoes.

“Despite what garners press attention, 85 percent of what we did was in a bipartisan manner.” Alfond said. “Even on veto day, 32 of the bills got at least two-thirds support in at least one of the [legislative] bodies.”

Cushing echoed the counter-narrative of collaboration in Augusta.

“Contrary to what you may read in the media about divisiveness, we tend to work well together and leadership sets the tone,” Cushing said, praising Alfond for “growing into his role and moving the vast majority of what we can agree on efficiently out of here.”

Cushing went on, however, to criticize partisanship over LePage’s proposal to give tax incentives to large employers that invest at least $50 million in Maine and to restrict the ability of unions to collect fees for services rendered to non-union employees at what LePage labeled Open for Business zones.

While bemoaning failure of that bill Thursday morning, LePage did take credit for other positive news for the state’s economy. SInce he took office in 2011, a period of national economic recovery from the recession started in late 2007, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped and some businesses have expanded, including the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville. With help from a new Finance Authority of Maine incentive program for major business expansions, the company is adding two new tissue-making machines by the end of next year.

LePage shared few details, but said he expects another “major announcement” in Washington County, the state’s poorest, in the coming month.

On the topic of economic development, LePage also said he plans to put forward a plan where the state would help pay off student loans for people who move here for school or after graduation.

The governor also said he plans to continue efforts to change the state’s system for sharing revenue with cities and towns, requiring that those payments contribute directly to lowering property tax payments.

LePage also touted his record on welfare fraud. The point segued into another familiar refrain, with LePage criticizing the media for characterizing the amount of fraudulent EBT ATM withdrawals from Jan. 1, 2011, to Nov. 15, 2013 — estimated at about two-tenths of 1 percent of the dollar amount of withdrawals — as small.

LePage also repeated a past complaint — that Maine media sometimes reports on correspondence to him from federal agencies before he’s had time to review them.

“We should be concerned, folks, that that kind of politics is going on,” LePage said.

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Comments

JOANNE MOORE's picture

"The problem is....

when the fringe is the leaders you have a problem. And that's what we have in Maine right now."

Is this man so stupid he doesn't even know he is talking about himself?

Get the net.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

He is just one of the prime examples

When you have nothing and have done nothing, you blame the other people to blame for your failures in messaging and productivity...

Similar to his RNC ..chair idiot Reince Priebus is now accusing Democrats of politicizing the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. When you have the GOP fund raising on the graves of 4 dead Americans......

All new 6 select committee members appointed by Boehner are all running for office in 2014, so this dingbat from Wisconsin tells more lies, just like LePage.

This is called running away from the GOP's own ignorance to point the finger at the other guy to deflect their guilt, but much more their arrogance, when the families of those that died do not want this to go any further.

AL PELLETIER's picture

We can't stand your BS anymore, Gov.

Now please reimburse us the $995,000 you gave away to Gary Alexander, quit tormenting us with your sorry excuses, quit blaming everyone and everything for your own short comings and mismanagement, pack your bags, take your unearned state pension and move to Florida---thank you.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

"Breaking News"-- Portland Kitchen Brawl

LePage and Christie caught fighting over "Bear Claw" at Becky's Diner in Portland....

"Damages to kitchen are massive"...........News Update coming soon.....

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Oh this is going to be so hard..............

Oh, this is going to be so hard to conform with the rules of posting here. After reading these out and out lies by the Governor, I just want to scream at someone to shut that fool up, unplug his mic.
It's one thing to have campaign promises, but to take existing policies that did work in the past, stop them, then when he's forced to reinstate the program, he states his new use for that policy.
Paul LePage stopped revenue sharing, this everyone knows. It wasn't a very popular move on his part, forcing many cities and towns to lay off workers, raise property taxes, basically he hurt the local economy bad. Now he wants to help change how the new State revenues are to be shared, and take the credit for lowering property taxes. This my friends is pure BS. He took it away, the Legislature reinstated it against his will, now he decides to claim that now he is lowering property taxes.
"Now I'm going to have to force them back". What a perfect quote to categorize LePages entire political career. This is what he considers working on both sides of the isle to improve the living conditions in this State?
Every time I hear that LePage is going to outline his accomplishments, I have to laugh. There are no accomplishments only years of being forced to do things his way or having it vetoed. The state of this State now is the end result of being held hostage. Not meeting his demands would result in negative progress. This is not Governing, this is bullying. I'm not sure but I thought the State was trying to get rid of bullies.............................

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

His plans

When he is running for office he has all sorts of plans to improve the economy and help Mainers. When he is actually in office however he vetoes all of them. Take "the waiting list" for example. For over a year we heard that the State of Maine could not help anybody because we had a waiting list of people who needed services. When the legislation showed up on his desk taking care of the waiting list what happened? You guessed it veto. So now he wants to help college graduates pay down their debt. Nice if he cared enough to fund the colleges. Even nicer if he wasn't trying to disenfranchise them. So he created jobs in Baileyville. How many jobs would the 400 million dollars in energy investment in wind power that he drove away, the federal Medicare money that he threw away, the psychiatric hospital money that he lost have provided? How many teachers, state workers and city workers have lost their jobs thanks to his ideology? If anything is true about this guy it is that he will do the exact opposite of what he says.

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

Sooooo, Mr. Lepage. You've

Sooooo, Mr. Lepage. You've got a problem with Maine media? I hope they keep talking. It's the only way Maine citizens get info--you are certainly not giving us any!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Wasn't LePage trawled and schooled on his denial of assistance

"The governor also said he plans to continue efforts to change the state’s system for sharing revenue with cities and towns, requiring that those payments contribute directly to lowering property tax payments."

It appears he swallows instead of spitting his chew.....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

LOL

This coming from a blow hole that has over 150 vetoes....That is OK Pauly keep talking and leave that duct tape in your draw...proceed Guvnor!

Investigations of the CDC, DHHS Maine Ride, Medical facilities deficiencies and so many more screw-ups from his administration and this lunatic blames the Dems....

It is no wonder that 62% voted against him in his last and only election.

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