AUGUSTA — Republican Gov. Paul LePage says he doesn’t understand the “hoopla” over his administration’s plan to privatize a $62.5 million welfare program in Maine.

Maine State Employees Association President Ramona Welton said Tuesday that 51 jobs are jeopardized by the governor’s plan for a New York nonprofit to run Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

But LePage told WVOM-FM the contract wasn’t about “unions” or “management,” but about providing “the most efficient, effective government at the lowest possible cost.”

The governor also said the contractor, Fedcap, is “going to hire Maine people.”

Welton said that since February, the state hasn’t responded to the union’s questions about the transition.

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