FARMINGTON – Last week I received a survey conducted by a credible polling organization, TelOpinion Research, which was done in March with live callers and reflects a sample size of 500.

I’m informed by a person who knows much more about polling than I that the sample size and methodology are credible.

The poll found that 76 percent of Mainers agree Maine’s welfare programs need to be reformed; 61 percent support tax cuts; 76 percent wish to see a reduction in red tape; 61 percent believe the state government could cut its work force and still provide a high level of service; and 61 percent wish to see government employees accept some sacrifice of benefits and some pay cuts.

The poll was commissioned by Maine People Before Politics, a partisan organization that supports the governor. Some will find it credible because of the source. Others will be skeptical for the same reason.

What seems more conclusive is this: The Democrats show little inclination to defend the status quo anti-LePage. The governor’s agenda emphatically includes welfare reform, tax cuts, governmental efficiency and funding unfunded mandates.

What alternative agenda has been proposed?

Five years ago, the moderately liberal Brookings Institution’s study, “Charting Maine’s Future,” received a lot of attention. Gov. Baldacci hailed it as the “blueprint” for the state’s future development.

Since it seems to have been entirely forgotten, it’s worth reminding the voters of its recommendation that Maine “strip out government redundancies, cut excess expenditures and rationalize bureaucracies.”

It also criticized our state’s “high tax burdens.”

It may also be timely to remind the voters that Eliot Cutler began his campaign as an independent with an op-ed column accusing the Maine Democratic Party of becoming a tool of special interests, singling out the Maine Education Association in particular.

I’m guessing that if Paul LePage said exactly the same thing tomorrow he’d be instantly condemned for harshly partisan rhetoric.

Nevertheless, the 2010 election results gave him a clear mandate — Not to Be a Democrat.

In truth, most of the attacks on the governor have avoided substantive issues and concentrated on his blunt style, hot temper and sometimes indecorous language.

The furor over a set of mediocre murals displayed in a cramped space where few people had ever seen it is the outstanding example of the quality of the opposition.

The pope would scarcely have been more harshly condemned if he had painted over the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

History records no example of a political entity whose fate was decided by the disposition of its murals. Maine’s problems are much graver than this.

The frenzies over Gov. LePage’s original set of proposals to reform Maine’s environmental regulations are hotter still. Here’s a selection of quotes found in the daily newspapers:

“Effectively roll back half-century’s worth of environmental and public health protections.”

“If we allow these repeals to happen, it would really take Maine back to the 1950s.”

“(T)he document suggests a change in direction that would reverse decades worth of work.”

“This could be the turning point in Maine’s environmental movement, the point at which the gains of the last decades are reversed.”

“This is a wholesale frontal assault on the very fabric of Maine’s environmental safeguards and laws.”

Paul LePage has explicitly stated that he aims to bring Maine’s environmental regulations into accord with the federal government’s standards. Can anyone seriously believe that federal regulations in the year 2011 would allow a regression to 1950s conditions? Seriously?

At this point L.D. 1, the regulatory reform bill, has bipartisan support with the assent of leading environmental groups and the governor’s office.

There will still be battles over environmental issues, but one thing is clear: All agree that reform is necessary.

And it was not undertaken during the period of Democratic domination.

– Special to The Press Herald