AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage joked Wednesday that he will leave town quickly today after giving a budget address outlining his priorities for the new two-year spending plan.

“I’m going to be speaking about the budget at 11 o’clock and I’m out of town at 11:30,” he said.

LePage, a Republican, will give his budget address today to the House and Senate. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network will carry it live on its radio stations, and the speech can be viewed online at www.maine.gov/legis/house/.

The address is expected to be an overview of LePage’s priorities. On Friday, members of his administration are scheduled to provide more details about what’s in the budget.

The gap between spending requests and projected revenue is estimated to be $800 million.

LePage said he took some ideas for the new budget from a 1991 report called “The Special Commission on Governmental Restructuring.” The commission was created by Gov. John McKernan, the state’s last Republican governor, and legislative leaders in May 1991.

“I’m taking that report very seriously,” LePage said. “… I believe that after the next biennium we will have a good foothold on solving the problems in the state of Maine.”

The 122-page report made recommendations in several areas, including operations of the Legislature, the state budget process, education reform and government management.

Among the recommendations were consolidating state offices, reducing the number of boards and commissions and abolishing the state Board of Environmental Protection.

LePage already has proposed eliminating the board and creating an appeals panel for issues now handled by the citizen board.

LePage gave no hints Wednesday as to which parts of the report he is considering but said he hopes people will work with him to move the state forward.

“It’s going to be painful,” he said. “You know, when you go to exercise because you want to lose weight, no pain no gain. This is what this budget is all about.”

Lawmakers passed a supplemental budget Tuesday to keep the state budget in balance through June 30. House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, a former member of the Appropriations Committee, described the budget to be released this week as a starting point. It will cover the period from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2013.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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