AUGUSTA, Maine — The Latest on Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s final State of the State address (all times local):
Democrats say a lot more could have been accomplished during the tenure of Republican Gov. Paul LePage if he’d been willing to work with them.
Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon said lawmakers have forgotten over seven years what it’s like to have a “well-functioning government” and a governor who’s “willing to collaborate.”
Democratic Sen. Troy Jackson said the governor doesn’t understand that “being able to work with people you disagree with is better than nothing.” He also said the governor can’t always “bully” others to get his way.
They spoke after LePage delivered his final State of the State address.
LePage touted accomplishments including reducing the state government workforce, eliminating red tape, creating charter schools, lowering taxes and eliminating a massive debt to hospitals.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage said the state’s “financial house is in good order.”
The Republican governor said in his final State of the State address Tuesday night that the state’s finances are “in better shape than any time in the past 40 years.” He said that “we promised to bring fiscal sanity to Augusta, and we did.”
He said he “right-sized” the state government workforce, eliminated red tape, created charter schools, cut taxes and improved the infrastructure.
He said he’s frustrated that the referendum process is being used to pass laws, saying lawmakers and the governor should be finding middle ground on legislation. He said of referendums that “50 percent plus one is not the will of the people.”
Republican Gov. Paul LePage says that anyone old enough to “put a rifle on their back” and go to war should be able to buy cigarettes.
LePage became passionate in his final State of the State address when he chastised lawmakers for raising the age to buy tobacco products to 21.
LePage said smoking is bad but said people should have the right to choose whether to purchase a legal product. He vetoed the bill but lawmakers had enough votes to override.
He said if people are old enough to go to war and to vote on complex referendums like elimination of the tip credit then they should be able to buy cigarettes.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage is telling state lawmakers that they have to fund a Medicaid expansion without any “gimmicks.”
The Republican chief executive suggested Tuesday evening that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services will need to hire and train 105 additional staffers to run the program.
LePage said, “show me the money.”
Voters approved the Medicaid expansion to provide health care for up to 90,000 additional Mainers.
Supporters say it would cost the state $54 million once fully rolled out, an amount that includes an estimated $27 million in annual savings from reduced health care costs. It could cost the state about $2.5 million a year in administrative costs.
LePage contends the cost will be greater.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage is renewing his attack on land trusts that he says are keeping too much land off of the tax rolls in Maine.
LePage said that the amount of tax-exempt land conserved from development has grown from 35,800 acres in 1993 to more than 500,000 acres today.
He said that’s led to $330 million in taxes being shifted onto Mainers.
He said that 20 percent of the state is currently exempt from taxes. He said that’s an area about the size of the state of Connecticut. He said, “everyone has to pay their fair share.” He called it “common sense.”
Maine Gov. Paul LePage says “now is not the time to slow down.”
The Republican governor opened his final State of the State address Tuesday evening with a vow to keep his foot on the gas pedal, and he said he’ll “continue working until the last minute” of his administration.
He repeated his contention that special interests are hijacking the political process and that the Legislature has forgotten about Mainers who need help the most.
He said he’s going to use his remaining days as governor to fight for “those Mainers whose voice is not heard here in Augusta.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage is set to deliver his final State of the State address.
The governor is scheduled to address a joint session of the Maine Legislature on Tuesday. He’s said he’s inviting an elderly Maine man who lost his home to foreclosure.
LePage said a main theme of his final year will be pushing to tax conservation land owned by trusts. Critics say much land is already on the tax rolls.
The governor can’t seek re-election because of term limits.
LePage gave his address in person last year after a one-year hiatus from the longstanding tradition.
He used his 2017 address to attack liberals and lawmakers beholden to lobbyists. He said he wanted to speak to the public, not lawmakers, and streamed his address via Facebook Live.