Anyone else getting the sense that Stephen King isn’t going to let Gov. Paul LePage wait out this tax/residency dustup in the bunker of silence? First the bestselling horror writer said the governor is full of — you know — for implying that King claimed residency in Florida and didn’t pay taxes in Maine. Then he said LePage should “man up and apologize.” Then he tells the Press Herald that he paid $1.4 million in Maine taxes in 2013.

And then another Twitter taunt on a Sunday morning.

Will King forgive this slight by LePage? That doesn’t seem likely, particularly so long as this national beef garners public attention. It has very much done that.


King’s celebrity, not to mention his fans, have also increased the profile of the entanglement. It’s a tough situation for LePage for many reasons. Not only did his office have to correct the weekly radio address, the governor has unwittingly brought attention to a 2010 controversy involving taxes and in-state tuition for two of his children in Florida. The Press Herald’s 2010 story about the issue had received over 6,000 views as of Saturday and the newspaper didn’t even include links to it in either of the stories involving King.

But above all, the governor has ticked off someone who is willing and eager to fight back and demand an apology. This is someone whose mind has created some relentless antagonists, including George Stark, the unborn twin brother of an author who becomes more real and murderous whenever the author uses him as a pseudonym; Randall Flagg, the archetypal villain for all of King’s creeps; and Pennywise, who one can reasonably argue is responsible for increased cases of Coulrophobia.

Nonetheless, what a LePage apology might look like is as much of a question as the expectation that one is even forthcoming. Anything short of “I’m sorry” or “I screwed up” is likely to further inflame the quarrel.


In any event, the Master of Horror awaits …

For real?

Meanwhile, the King standoff has inspired some hopeful Democrats. Or a prankster:

Minimum wage x 8 The Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee — also known as the longest committee named in order to settle a political dispute — will be busy Monday with public hearings on, count ’em, eight bills that propose to increase the minimum wage. A few of those bills are going to get tossed pretty quickly, but at least one will eventually reach the full Legislature. The big question is whether a minimum wage bill becomes a partisan show vote with no real chance of enactment, or a compromise measure. As fellow Press Herald reporter Kevin Miller reported on March 5, there may be some interest in the business community to negotiate a palatable minimum wage bill because opponents fear that a straight-up referendum on the issue will likely pass. The question for Democrats, who support increasing the minimum wage, is whether they want to make a deal or funnel resources into a referendum. The latter decision will likely involve a political calculation. Raising the minimum wage polls really well, but it’s really unclear if it motivates voters to turn out at the polls. Alternately, moving a doomed partisan bill rather than passing a compromise would give Democratic legislative candidates a contrast issue to use for their 2016 legislative campaigns.

Budget committee update The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is scheduled to meet Monday to deal with the still-outstanding supplemental budget. The committee has reached an agreement on largely uncontroversial matters, but Democrats and Republicans are still haggling over two key issues, funding for the Office of the Attorney General and the Fund for a Healthy Maine and the Healthy Maine Partnerships. The reason for both roadblocks is that the governor is seeking to make sure that he has enough money in his contingency account to pursue his various legal quests. That could affeact the budget for AG Janet Mills, with whom LePage has clashed repeatedly over the past year. Meanwhile, LePage’s budget proposes to cut $20 million from the Fund for a Healthy Maine. That’s a separate proposal from the issue in the supplemental budget, but it serves as backdrop for the ongoing negotiations. Odds and ends Legislative committees will be busy all day Monday. The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold a public hearing on a bill that would repeal the state’s county jail consolidation plan. The proposal is part of a much larger policy debate that lawmakers will have to settle this year to address the future of the Board of Corrections and governance of the county jail system. LePage has said he doesn’t care if the state takes over the jails or sends oversight back to the counties. However, he is clear that he wants to get rid of the Board of Corrections and has rendered it powerless by freezing his appointments, leaving it without a quorum.  The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will hold several public hearings, including one on a bill designed to keep Maine students from dropping out of college. The Taxation Committee will hold a public hearing on a bill sponsored by House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, that’s designed to beef up the ranks of volunteer firefighters by providing a tax credit.

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