Listen to LePage’s comments on WVOM:

Gov. Paul LePage railed on Tuesday against a new voter-approved tax surcharge on wealthy residents that he argued is driving away professionals and harming the economy.

In fact, LePage even suggested the tax hike and other ballot initiatives could drive him out of Maine after leaving office.

“I want to see Maine prosper and I would love nothing more to retire here in Maine, but the way things are going with Maine People’s Alliance and all of these referendums that come up, I am going to be forced out of the state like everybody else,” LePage said during his weekly appearance on a Bangor radio station.

The tax surcharge was just one topic in a wide-ranging interview on WVOM that touched on LePage’s views on the Trump administration, Medicaid spending and potential economic threats to Maine’s lobster fishery.

At one point, guest host Chris Greeley asked whether LePage was trying to set himself up for “something big down the road” with his recent trips to Washington, D.C., and appearances on national television programs. Those appearances have fueled speculation that LePage could be angling for a job in the Trump administration or preparing for another run for public office, potentially the U.S. Senate.

LePage responded that “there is no future agenda,” but that he is working to “bring common sense back to America” and “stop punishing success.”

In his current position as governor, LePage earns $70,000 a year and his wife worked as a waitress last year, so it is unclear whether the new surcharge would immediately affect them.

Maine voters narrowly approved a 3 percent tax surcharge on earnings above $200,000 last November to funnel money into education. LePage said the surcharge is “devastating” the state and that he believes 40 to 50 “professionals” already have left the state.

“I have talked to at least a dozen people that said, ‘Enough is enough. You’re just greedy. Maine has become so greedy that they hate success and they are punishing success and they are out of here,” LePage said.

Several business leaders made similar comments during a lengthy public hearing Monday on bills to roll back the tax surcharge. But education advocates urged lawmakers to respect the will of the voters who are frustrated with the state’s failure to provide adequate funding to schools.

LePage also claimed – without providing additional details – that his administration is working to keep three companies with 1,000 jobs from leaving the state because of taxes and high energy costs. The governor has made similar claims several times in the past, but no mass exodus of jobs has occurred to date.

The governor said his recent meetings with Trump’s health and human services secretary, Tom Price, pertained to Maine’s experiences on Medicaid and welfare. The LePage administration has eliminated Medicaid eligibility for tens of thousands of low-income, able-bodied adults and refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

Asked about his relationship with the Trump administration, LePage said he believes Maine will have a “window of opportunity” that didn’t exist under former President Barack Obama. The governor also took an opportunity to bash the media – a favorite topic of both LePage and Trump – when asked about the controversies swirling around potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that his agency is investigating whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election.

“Kudos to (Trump) for standing up and not being blasted and not taking the bait,” LePage said of the media coverage. “All they want to do is control who he is and what he does. They are very, very powerful but they are also fake.”

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

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