AUGUSTA — Republican Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday he was “ashamed” to be part of the current state government and again promised to veto any budget from the Maine Legislature that reaches or exceeds $7 billion in spending.

LePage’s budget proposal, offered in January, would have the state spend about $6.8 billion. LePage’s comments came during his weekly call-in appearance on the Bangor-based WVOM radio show hosted by Ric Tyler and George Hale.

LePage also lamented term limits in the Legislature and praised Democratic Rep. John Martin, a former longtime House speaker who is a key negotiator on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.

LePage criticized lawmakers for taking too long to finish up their work on the next two-year state budget, which has been mired in gridlock over disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on a 3 percent surcharge on household incomes added to Maine’s tax code by voters last fall and earmarked for increasing state funds for public schools.

He said he hadn’t spoken with Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, for months, if not years.

“He doesn’t talk to me at all,” LePage said of Thibodeau. “He came down one time and said, ‘I need your help,’ and I said, ‘What do you need?’ and he just said, ‘I need your help,’ and I said, ‘OK, tell me what you need,’ and that was the end of it and I haven’t seen him for months.”


LePage said legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle, except for House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, were again repeating a budget standoff that could lead to a partial government shutdown if the parties can’t agree on spending and taxes by June 30.

“This is going to come down to they are going to put guns to each other’s heads and whoever blinks first they will have a budget or they won’t have a budget – that’s just the way it works,” LePage said. He also said they had ignored his budget recommendations for four budget cycles in a row and suggested that the Maine Constitution be changed to give the Legislature the authority to not only dispose of a budget but to propose a budget, which is currently a duty of the governor.

The Senate voted later Tuesday on its version of a state budget after the House did so a day earlier. State House leaders on Tuesday also appointed members to a special six-member committee to negotiate differences between the House and Senate spending packages.

“They have had the budget since January,” LePage said. “Democrats want to spend, spend, spend. The Republican Senate wants to spend, spend, spend. I have come to this conclusion – term limits are the worst thing for the state of Maine because we lose our institutional knowledge.” LePage then said Martin, of Eagle Lake, and Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, along with Fredette were the only ones showing leadership.

“Certainly not those in leadership showing much leadership,” LePage said. “They have been sitting on their hands since January; shame on them. This is the laziest bunch I have ever seen. They are not doing any work. I’m really, really ashamed of saying I’m part of this government.”

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