AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage issued a challenge to the Maine Education Assocation today, saying he’s ready to spend more money on teacher training if the union spends money too.

“For every dollar the MEA puts up for professional development for teachers, we’ll match it,” he said drawing applause from those gathered at the Maine Tax Forum held at the Augusta Civic Center.

He also said many teachers leave the profession after only a few years because they don’t get the support they need.

“The problem is the union bosses that come out of Washington and come up to Maine and cause confusion,” he said.

The comments were part of a speech where LePage talked about his three biggest goals for the upcoming legislative session — energy, education and the economy.

Chris Galgay, president of the Maine Education Association, said the union does provide classes for beginning teachers and mentoring to help teachers become nationally certified. He said he wants to hear more from LePage about this idea.

“If he had a plan and asked us if we wanted to be part of the plan I’d sit down and talk with him about it,” he said.

And, when it comes to union bosses, Galgay said they get support — not direction — from their national union.

“The NEA president has little control of what the states are doing,” he said.