LePage says he kept department heads from hearing

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AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday said he barred his department chiefs from making themselves available at a Tuesday meeting of the Appropriations Committee.

“The state is not going to be run by committees, it’s going to be run by the chief executive of the state,” LePage told reporters outside the State House.

LePage said he’s instituted a policy: When legislative committees want to speak with a department head, they must go through him. The Appropriations Committee refused to do that, he said.

“A simple letter to my office, asking who you want to speak with, will work,” he said. “That’s all you have to do. They challenged me, and nobody showed up.”

Lawmakers on the committee had asked for commissioners from Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Administrative and Financial Services, and the head of Maine Revenue Services. None showed up.

It was the continuation of a fight between the governor and the powerful budget-writing committee, which began last spring when LePage was prevented from speaking to the committee by Senate Chairwoman Dawn Hill, D-York, who said she would not let the governor address the legislators because she wanted the meeting to end “on a good note.”

After that meeting, the governor decreed that none of his department heads would speak to Appropriations, and that he would be the sole representative of the executive branch.

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