AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday said that the public outcry over his decision to remove a mural from the Maine Department of Labor has become an unwelcome distraction as he tries to work with the Legislature to implement his agenda.

In his first interview since workers took down the mural last weekend, LePage said he was right to remove the mural, but he should have waited until after the legislative session.

“The timing was bad,” LePage said in a brief interview as he left a meeting with the Senate Republican caucus. “It should have been done later on, not when we are trying to get a budget passed.”

LePage said he wants the public to focus on his political agenda, such as streamlining regulations and providing Mainers with tax relief.