WASHINGTON – Gov. Paul LePage skipped a National Governors Association meeting with President Obama at the White House on Monday morning so he could get back to state business, his spokeswoman said.

The Maine Republican was not alone in missing the session with Obama, the culminating event for the association’s three-day winter meeting.

About a dozen of the association’s 55 members, including governors of U.S. territories and commonwealths, also were absent, according to the White House.

LePage attended the White House work session last year.

This year, he decided before the meeting to take a Monday morning flight back to Portland “because the goal was to be back before the end of the business day,” said Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s spokeswoman.

“We were gone Friday through Monday afternoon,” Bennett said in a phone interview Monday. “That is a lot of time to be out.”

The National Governors Association’s winter meeting, which began Saturday morning, ended after the governors met with Obama to talk about education, the economy and other issues.

LePage and his wife, Ann, attended Sunday night’s dinner at the White House for governors, hosted by Obama. The Monday morning session is when the governors and the president discuss policy matters.

In public remarks made before the meeting was closed for a private question-and-answer session between the governors and Obama, the president urged the governors to invest more state money and resources on education.

Bennett said LePage has boosted education funding in his budget.

LePage said Saturday that he attended the association meeting to learn from other governors.

“I just want to listen to the other governors, see if they are all facing the same issues, and see how other governors are attacking some of the issues,” he said.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

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