A lot has been written about Republican lawmakers’ silence on the governor’s two-year budget proposal and tax overhaul. Overlooked, however, is that Democrats aren’t saying much about it, either.

Or doing much, really. At least publicly.

On Wednesday Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate minority leader Justin Alfond kicked off their jobs tour. The event received a fair amount of attention from television media. Print media covered it, too.

However, the proposal is sort of a continuation of initiatives that Democrats and Republicans have embraced and enacted here before. What’s new is the message. In 2013 the idea of investing in community colleges and job training to help employers hire skilled workers was called the “skills gap.” Now it’s called the jobs gap, a term that attempts to connect Maine’s slow economic rebound to what have so far been old or ongoing initiatives. There’s also a nifty tie-in with President Obama’s American “comeback” message and his plan to provide free tuition to some community college students, which Eves has said he supports.

Such things are all worthy of examination. But from a political standpoint, those initiatives are destined to be overshadowed by Gov. Paul LePage, who can command attention in just about any situation and that was before he dropped a bold, comprehensive budget proposal that has dominated State House discussions ever since.

It makes sense that Republicans are incognito. There’s a lot for them to hate in the governor’s plan. There’s also a lot for the Democrats to like. Of course it’s not in their interest to champion LePage’s budget and there are probably some good reasons not to blast the elements they don’t like, especially if they end up voting for them. And simply ripping LePage is not a recipe for success (See: Election, 2014).

So what should Democrats in the Legislature do? They’re in a defensive position despite having a majority in the House. The party can’t simply play obstructionist, nor can it risk damaging their brand as the party of collaboration. One Democrat I spoke with suggested a different tack: Use LePage’s budget, specifically his tax plan, as an opportunity to roll out the Democratic alternative, their plan. Offer the public a contrast, a choice. Join the discussion.

Maybe that will happen, but it hasn’t yet.

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Nobody has ever accused LePage of holding back his opinions and he’s been on a roll lately. During his Jan. 9 budget briefing he unexpectedly called for the resignation of the president of the community college system. This week he said Verso Paper is a bunch of “bottom feeders” that should “get out of the state.”

And on Thursday, he weighed in on deflated footballs, saying the New England Patriots are a “less than ethical” franchise. Naturally, this comment became an instant news story — a news story that initially lacked some valuable context: The governor is a New York Giants fan.

LePage’s allegiance to the Giants surfaced in 2012 in a blog post I wrote for the Sun Journal in Lewiston.  The governor had been invited by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson to watch a game between the Saints and Panthers from Benson’s private suite.

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Anybody who has spent time at the State House knows that the trains rarely run on time here. Public hearings and meetings are dutifully scheduled and the times are dutifully ignored by state lawmakers running the show. It’s known as “legislative time,” which is essentially code for their schedule takes precedence.

This is especially true of the budget committee, which is known for showing up late, leaving late and taking interminable breaks that always run longer than announced. Sen. James Hamper, R-Oxford, the new chairman of the committee, aimed to change that this year, announcing on the very first day that the committee will start and run on schedule. No legislative time, he said.

So far, he’s been good on his word. The public that shows up to testify — and certainly the press — definitely appreciate it.

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Quick hits: Maine’s U.S. House delegation split on the GOP-led effort to tighten restrictions on abortion …. Most Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted against a measure stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it, although U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, voted for the measure … state Sen. Eric Brakey has submitted a boatload of bills this session and many of them are, well, unique. Brakey is sponsoring L.D. 120, a bill that would give Mainers a tax credit for tolls they pay on the Maine Turnpike.