Friday, March 7, 2014
It's fairly common for Maine governors to highlight their first 100 days in office, but Gov. Paul LePage went a step further Friday, releasing a 20-page booklet touting his policy accomplishments in his first 500 days as the state's chief executive.
Gov. Paul LePage gives a thumbs up as he speaks during the Maine Republican Party State Convention recently.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer
READ OR DOWNLOAD the booklet at the governor’s website.
LePage's 500th day in office is today.
The booklet was designed to inform the public about the governor's many achievements in just over 16 months in office, said Adrienne Bennett, LePage's spokeswoman. She said the booklet shows that LePage has kept his campaign promises.
Democrats blasted the document, saying that many of the governor's policies are not worth boasting about.
Bennett said the booklet was produced by the governor's staff with assistance from the communications director in the Department of Labor. She said it was produced when the staff had extra time.
The printed booklet costs about $1 per copy to produce, Bennett said. The administration had 50 copies printed, and is encouraging Mainers to download the electronic version from the governor's website.
The booklet lists an array of policies that the governor proposed or endorsed during the 125th Legislature, which adjourned early Thursday.
Heading the list is the $400 million tax cut passed by the Legislature last year. The proposal has been promoted by Republicans, including LePage, as the largest tax cut in Maine history.
Democrats have criticized the cut, saying that it isn't entirely paid for, and that the GOP and LePage leveraged spending for social services to force Democrats to approve it.
Of the policies cited in the booklet, some were opposed by Democrats while others, in fact, received their support, including a bill authorizing a feasibility study of an east-west highway across Maine, efforts to curb domestic abuse, a bill to loosen mining regulations for potential mineral extraction at Bald Mountain in Aroostook County, and an omnibus bill containing regulatory reforms.
The reform package was introduced by LePage last year. Its most controversial provisions were removed by a bipartisan legislative panel.
The booklet devotes an entire section to job creation, citing a dip in the state's unemployment rate and jobs added by companies such as Carbonite in Lewiston and Oxford Networks/Resilient Communications as evidence that LePage's policies are instilling confidence among job creators.
The administration, citing the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, says the state's private sector grew by 4,100 jobs.
Ben Grant, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, said the booklet ignores the state's job losses.
In recent months, TD Bank and Bank of America have closed call centers. The state also missed out on manufacturing jobs once promised by Kestrel Aeroworks, which decided not to open a manufacturing facility in Brunswick. Some have questioned whether the startup could have delivered those jobs.
"Gov. LePage may be able to wrap up what he's done over the past 500 days in a pretty bow, but that doesn't change the fact that Maine is worse off today than it was before he took office," Grant said.
"We've lost more than 1,000 jobs since 2011. We were rated dead last in the country for personal income growth. Middle-class Mainers are working harder and harder for less and less."
Grant said some of LePage's budget reductions could shift costs to municipalities and property taxpayers.
Democrats aren't the only ones who have criticized the governor's policies. While the GOP and LePage tout their decision last year to freeze the state's indexing on the gas tax, transportation and construction groups said that was shortsighted and will hurt the state's road and bridge infrastructure. Gas tax indexing generated $340 million in revenue from 2002 to 2011 -- enough to fund the Maine Department of Transportation roughly 1.5 times.
The booklet also touts the governor's initiatives to strengthen education and assist veterans.
State House Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at: