LePage addresses the media during a press conference held Tuesday.

Gov. LePage addresses reporters during a Tuesday press conference.

Good morning,

Gov. Paul LePage will continue his budget and tax tour Wednesday with two stops in Bangor. The first will be a luncheon with the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative advocacy group. MHPC is using the event as a fundraiser. Tickets were $45 for members and $55 for nonmembers.

It will be interesting to see the reception from what will likely be a very conservative crowd, with a history of advocating for cutting taxes. There have been rumors — but no confirmation — that at some of the center’s more private events, participants have been critical of LePage’s budget, which features an income tax cut but raises the sales tax and broadens it to numerous services that are not now taxed.

Meanwhile, the reaction to the budget among legislators has ranged from hostile to tight-lipped. The governor seems to know it, too.

At a press conference on Tuesday, LePage, surrounded by roughly 40 military veterans, used words like “war” and “battle” to describe the political struggle that awaits.

“I have four years and my goal is to do two things. One is to eliminate the income tax and two is to lower the cost of energy,” he said. “People upstairs (legislators) can be with me or they can be against me, but that’s what I’m doing for four years.”

He added, “Seventy to eighty percent of the people I talk to say they agree with me, it’s just that I have to convince 181 legislators.”

Later Wednesday evening, the governor will hold his second budget and tax town hall meeting at the Gracie Theatre at Husson University. It begins at 6 p.m.

Cain jumps in early 

You might have heard the news: Democrat Emily Cain is taking another crack at the 2nd Congressional District seat after losing to U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in November.

It’s seems pretty obvious that Cain’s entry into the race this early is largely driven by fundraising. Both Poliquin and Cain got right to it Tuesday:

However, one also wonders if Cain’s entry is also designed to “clear the field” of potential Democratic challengers. This was the strategy for the Maine Democratic Party in the 2014 gubernatorial race and discouraging challengers with a big war chest is nothing new. However, one wonders if other Democrats, and their funders, believe that Cain is entitled to a free path to the nomination.

For those developments be sure to check Kennebec Journal reporter Mike Shepherd’s coverage.

Ready for secrets?

It’s been interesting to watch the fallout from the New York Times piece about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s use of private email to conduct government business.

While the Times story spent a lot of time explaining why the retention of government emails and messages is important to the public record, a lot of the postmortem analysis has focused on whether this revelation will injure Clinton’s presumed presidential bid.

On that count, it’s easy to be skeptical that public access to public emails and the restoration thereof is something that the public very much cares about. There’s been a steady increase in public officials doing public business privately all across the country, and that includes here in Maine. Private email accounts, texting and other messaging systems are widely used. The state’s Freedom of Access Act isn’t exactly keeping pace with the new ways that lawmakers and state officials are doing the public’s work. The state’s Right to Know Advisory Committee addressed some of these technologies in meetings held last fall, but no changes in the law were ever proposed.

One wonders if there ever will be changes until public pressure is applied. So far, the only resistance has been from journalists and they can only do so much complaining before it sounds self-serving.

On tap

It’s another busy day for legislative committees Wednesday. That includes the budget-writing committee, which is taking up additional portions of the Department of Health and Human Services budget.

While many of the committees are ramping up, it appears that the Energy and Utilities Committee is lagging behind. Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, told reporters Tuesday that the panel has received more than three dozen bills, but held just a handful of public hearings, if any.

Also in the State House Wednesday morning: A rally for raising the minimum wage hosted by the Maine People’s Alliance.