Gov. Paul LePage is upset about the way the legislative session ended. In the final days, Democrats and some Republicans overrode his vetoes of two major pieces of legislation, the budget and the energy bill.

Another governor in the same position might have stood back, pointed to the goals he had accomplished, declared victory and flown off to Jamaica.

But LePage plays winner-take-all politics, where a partial victory is the same as a defeat.

Realistically, the governor got much of what he wanted, despite Democrats controlling both halves of the Legislature.

He managed to save his income tax reduction from delay or repeal, even though it caused about half of this year’s budget deficit problem.

He pushed through what he said was his top priority, paying off the large debt Maine owes to its hospitals for past MaineCare services.

And he got it done his way by introducing an open request for proposals process to maximize the revenue that will be returned to the states.

The governor’s approach was the right one and he prevailed.

Republicans in Legislature sustained 48 of the governor’s vetoes, which seemed like a maddening degree of loyalty to Democrats.

They labeled the Republican legislators puppets for regularly switching sides on issues to accommodate the governor. But by the end of the session the governor was denouncing his fellow Republicans as faint-hearted.

The governor managed to prevent Maine from participating in an extension of Medicaid to 70,000 Mainers, another “victory” from his perspective.

We believe the governor’s opposition was an unfortunate mistake, but LePage could certainly claim credit for getting his own way.

The governor didn’t get his way twice, but he did have a significant effect on the two bills that passed over his objections.

Many of the items in the budget bill contained compromises with the governor’s original position.

He wanted to eliminate revenue sharing with local communities, which would have resulted in disastrous cuts to municipal services or painful increases in property taxes.

Instead, Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature made modest and, they say, temporary increases in the sales, meals and lodging taxes to help offset about half the loss to communities.

In many spending categories, the final budget was a compromise between what the governor wanted and what the Legislature was willing to do.

A more experienced politician might have called a press conference at the end of the session and pointed to all what he had accomplished under difficult circumstances.

But our governor is an all-or-nothing person. He equates compromise with defeat.

There’s a reason we have three branches of government — it’s too easy for a single person, or a single branch of government to run amok.

Experience shows the best ideas emerge when people put their heads together and work out their differences.

That’s a frustrating process, and the result is rarely exactly what anyone wants.

It is unfortunate the governor finds so much anguish in that.

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The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.


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