Gov. Paul LePage participated in a wide ranging interview on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network call-in show Maine Calling on Wednesday (Listen on demand here). The governor hit a number of topics, but used the appearance — his first on Maine Calling — to plug his big tax plan and his two-year budget proposal.

The governor didn’t talk a lot about the sales tax increase in the budget, but did frame the initiative in a couple of ways that we’ll probably hear again. First, the governor, and his advisors, are rejecting the idea that his budget is a tax increase because its objective is a net tax decrease. This is a rhetorical device, but it does contain some truth. Yes, the governor is trying to reduce the income tax, and yes, his administration believes his plan will result in a $300 million reduction in tax burden for Mainers. But he is using a tax increase — sales taxes and increasing the number of goods services subject to the sales tax — to pay for part of the income tax cut.

Short of shuttering a state agency, or multiple state agencies, the sales tax increase and other measures are the only way to pay for his income tax reduction that will result in a $723 million loss in state revenue over the next two fiscal years.

Second, the governor is making the pitch that shifting the tax structure to a consumption based code is about individual choice. Here’s what he said:

“In order for us to be prosperous, in order for us to get out of poverty and into prosperity, we need to make some bold actions. And a bold action is — what’s the one tax that you have absolutely nothing to say about? It’s income tax. You never see it. You get your paycheck at the end of the week and it’s already gone. Sales tax, you have to make a decision. Property tax, you have to make decision. With income tax the decision is made for you. I’m trying to shift to a consumption tax, so you pay as you go. People say they’re tax breaks for the rich. Well, the guy buying the big yacht it going to pay a lot of sales tax.”

The governor also noted that eliminating the income tax is a long term goal. The proposed reduction over the next four years, he said, was as far as the state could go, but the objective remains the same.

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Fun fact: LePage prefers Tim Horton’s to Dunkin’ Donuts. That explains why his state-issue SUV has been spotted many a morning at the Augusta Tim Horton’s.

His preference for the Canadian coffee and pastry chain over the New England coffee and pastry chain was revealed during an exchange with a Bar Harbor woman who called in to challenge his assertion that raising the minimum wage will hurt Maine seniors. So on what is he basing this claim? Just a guess, but he seems to be saying that raising the minimum wage will will cause retailers like Dunkin’ Donuts (or Tim Horton’s) to raise their prices and that will hurt people on fixed incomes.

The woman wasn’t buying it anymore than Gawker was buying Tim Horton’s Buffalo Crunch doughnut. That’s right, a doughnut that tastes like buffalo sauce.

Hungry? Me neither.

Here’s a SFW version of what Gawker wrote:

“This Frankenstein swimming pool, which is to be served exclusively at the New York State Fair this weekend, proves that Canadians have a bizarrely passive-aggressive but thoroughly performative sense of humo(u)r. … What are you guys doing up there? Leave our food mashups alone.”

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LePage acknowledged Wednesday that there can be financial consequences for state agencies or institutions if they don’t meet his expectations. He said this was the case for the Maine Community College System. He said outgoing president John Fitzsimmons never responded to two key directives: Working with the University of Maine system on a way to transferrable credits with the community colleges and finding out ways ensure that high school graduates are prepared for community college.

LePage, who responding to Mal Leary’s question about why the governor flat-funded the community college system despite employers’ push for job ready graduates, said Fitzsimmons never came through.

“It was never done. That’s my problem,” LePage said. “Until you address some of the issues, you haven’t earned more money.”

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 LePage also panned Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves job training initiative and “jobs tour.”

“We’ve been doing that idea for two years,” the governor said. “Now we need to do more. … It’s not getting your name in the newspaper. It’s sitting down and doing it. Go get the job done. We’re already doing what Mark Eves is talking about.”

Eves, in a statement, pushed back against the governor’s characterization, saying job training is a priority for the business community.

“I’m sorry to hear the Governor is not supportive of our common sense investment in growing Maine’s middle class.  I hope to change his mind in the coming months,” he said. “Investing more in training for our workers and partnering with business across the state to do so should not be controversial.”

He added, “Right now, Maine’s economy is lagging. We face a jobs gap and a wage gap. We need to do better,” said Eves. “We can start by listening to business and workers and building off the successful models like Pratt & Whitney’s public-private partnership with York County Community College.  These are the ideas that the experts on Maine’s economy and our business leaders are telling us will work.”

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Democrats in House District 93 will caucus February 7 to pick their candidate for the upcoming special election. The election will be to replace Rep. Elizabeth Dickerson, D-Rockland, who moved to Colorado and formally resigned last week.

The election will be held March 10. According to press statement, Democratic candidates will be nominated from the floor during the February 7 caucus. The release also noted that four candidates have already expressed interest in running.

No word yet on the date of the Republican caucus.

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 Marc Solomon, the Marriage Project director for Freedom to Marry, will visit the Glickman Library at the University of Southern Maine on Thursday to promote his book, which is apparently printed on a broadsheet to accommodate the title:  “Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and the Pundits — And Won.”

Solomon, who was also on the steering committee for the Mainers United for Marriage campaign in 2012, will do a reading and book signing on the 7th floor of the library between noon and 1:30 p.m.