AUGUSTA — Returning to a practice from the 1800s, Republican Gov. Paul LePage on Monday issued a written State of the State address to the Legislature.

Breaking from the modern tradition of delivering a speech on the state’s current status before a joint session of the Maine House and Senate, LePage said he was forgoing “the pomp and circumstance of a live speech so we can spend our time and energy on what truly matters: getting work done for the Maine people.”

In the eight-page memo, LePage touches on five key areas his administration has focused on for the past five years, including lowering taxes, reforming welfare, reducing energy costs, lowering student debt and combating the state’s ongoing opioid drug crisis.

LePage also warns voters in his message to pay attention to coming State House elections in November. 

“To the Maine people, I say this: If you want to improve our economy, if you truly want to prosper, then you have to change the culture in Augusta,” LePage wrote. “Vote for those candidates who will work for you. Hold them accountable; demand their attention.”

The memo also repeatedly makes use of the term “socialist,” blasting state Democratic state lawmakers for policies LePage disagrees with. The term has grown in popularity with conservative lawmakers and politicians in recent months, particularly on the U.S. presidential campaign trail.


“First it was liberal ideology,” LePage wrote. “Now it’s socialism. The steadfast adherence to ideology above all else, including prosperity for the Maine people, has prevented opportunities for our state to succeed and grow. The current ideology is far out of the mainstream and has failed miserably in countries around the world. The efforts by Maine’s socialists to turn our state into Greece, Cuba, Venezuela or the former Soviet Union are moving us backwards at a rapid pace.”

The repeated use of the terms “socialism” and “socialist” was not lost on State House Democrats, who said Monday that despite LePage’s claims to be apolitical, he was increasingly political.

House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, called LePage’s letter, “an eight-page rant” that was replete with “recycled rhetoric.”

McCabe also criticized LePage for traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire in recent days to stump for Republican presidential hopeful and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

“Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans (at the State House) continue to work together to find common ground on important issues, whether it’s the drug crisis or whether it’s coming up with a plan for tax conformity or this issue that just arose last week in regards to a shortfall in school funding,” McCabe said. “He continues to be isolated and not provide any vision or leadership for the state.”

McCabe said LePage’s refusal to give an in-person State of the State Address was an insult not only to the Legislature but to all Maine citizens. He said the notion that the state should return to using the technology of the 1800s was disappointing as well.


“Back in the 1800s, the governor didn’t have the ability to give a live State of the State to people all across Maine,” McCabe said. “Now technology exists for the governor to address the Maine people before the House of Representatives. We are an audience, but so are tens of thousands of Maine people who are able to watch the governor unedited and hear his vision for the state of Maine. Instead, the governor chose to write eight pages of name-calling and attempts to try and label members of the House and Senate.”

McCabe also said he was sure LePage did not know the definition of the word “socialism.”

“I’m not sure the governor is using it in an accurate way,” McCabe said. 

McCabe said the letter didn’t provide the Legislature with any specific guidance or suggestions for policy change.

“There’s very little we can actually take away from this and do,” McCabe said.

House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said LePage completely overlooked the state’s public schools and its estimated 140,000 military veterans.


“While Gov. LePage uses the word ‘socialist’ over 10 times in his letter, not once does he mention our children or our veterans,” Eves said. “Not once does he talk about Maine schools or our teachers. Instead of proposing targeted ways to address the needs of our families, including combating rising costs of housing, food and health care, he instead ignores what Mainers really care about to rail against bipartisan lawmakers who disagree with him.”

Republican State House leaders were less critical of LePage.

“Gov. LePage has never been one to mince words, and the State of the State letter is no different,” House Assistant Minority Leader Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, said in a prepared statement. “Enough time has been wasted already this session with the failed impeachment attempt that did nothing to improve the lives of Maine people, which is what we were sent here to do. Passing good public policy that helps move the state forward is exactly what the governor and House Republicans plan to do.”

Also touting LePage’s new approach to the State of the State was Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett.

“Reforming welfare, growing Maine’s economy, fighting the scourge of heroin and other destructive drugs on Maine’s streets and lowering the cost of living for Maine people are goals that everyone in Augusta should share,” Bennett said in a prepared statement.

Governor’s State of the State Letter 2016

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