Paul LePage may be the most unpolitic governor in the country. He is stubborn, irascible, sometimes abrasive enough to make even his supporters wince, and the virtue of compromise is not one he values highly. For all that, he leaves office with Maine in solid financial shape, taxes are lower and job growth has been robust – no small accomplishments in these times.

Progressives dislike him intensively, mainly because he has strange notions that have thwarted their ambitions to enlarge the welfare state. Most prominent among these is the unfashionable idea that governments, like households and businesses, should live within their means without gimmicks to make it appear that they are.

This guiding principle is the reason the governor has resisted the expansion of Medicaid for as long as possible. Many legislators and the voters who finally approved the expansion consider it an exercise in compassion, but Gov. LePage understands that compassion that ignores long-term costs, alternatives and the potential for adverse consequences is careless and irresponsible, and the source of much bad policy.

This won’t stop the incoming governor, Janet Mills, from rushing to implement the expansion, even though she has no idea how the state will pay its share of the cost beyond the first year or so.

Maybe Gov. LePage could have accomplished more if he had been willing to work more closely with the Legislature and to compromise on some issues. But overall the state has done well, and we may come to miss his stubborn insistence on the kind of fiscal prudence that is in such short supply among politicians today.

Thanks, Governor, and best wishes.

Martin Jones


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