AUGUSTA — Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage turned in nomination papers for a third term on Wednesday, reiterating his call for income tax cuts while vowing to reinstitute work requirements for welfare recipients and make sure hospitals rehire workers who lost their jobs because of vaccine mandates.

LePage also weighed in on Gov. Janet Mills’ supplemental budget, including a $20 million proposal to offer two years of free community college tuition to the classes of 2020-23. LePage said Maine should provide free community college to all students, not just those impacted by the pandemic.

Former Gov. Paul LePage speaks to the media Wednesday after walking to the State House to submit signatures to the Secretary of State to qualify and have his name placed on the 2022 ballot. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

LePage was joined by dozens of supporters carrying campaign signs and American flags as he submitted his papers in hopes of becoming the first person to serve a third nonconsecutive term in the Blaine House. Republican Bruce Poliquin, who also is running for his old job in Congress and wants to unseat Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, walked with LePage and his wife, Ann, from the Blaine House to the State House.

“We need a state that can be prosperous,” LePage said while standing outside the State House surrounded the media and cheering supporters.

The small rally came a day after Mills, a Democrat, released details of her supplemental budget and a week after her State of the State address.

Mills proposed returning half of a projected $822 million revenue surplus to roughly 800,000 taxpayers in the form of $500 checks. And she recommended using all but $12 million of the projected surplus on other programs, including a $100 million investment in roads and bridges and $10 million for the state’s rainy day fund, which has more than doubled under Mills to $500 million.


LePage, who served two terms from 2011-19, is trying to make the case that Mills has not been a good steward of the state economy, despite the projected surplus fueled by federal funding and increased revenue from sales and income taxes. Mills has noted the state’s gross domestic product now exceeds pre-pandemic levels.

Former Gov. Paul LePage prepares to hug supporter Elaine Bridge of Manchester before walking to the State House on Wednesday to submit his nomination papers to the Secretary of State in a bid to become the first person to win a third nonconsecutive term in the Blaine House. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer


A spokesperson for Mills, who was attending an event in Farmington on Wednesday, referred questions about LePage’s statements to a campaign spokesperson.

“Under the leadership of Governor Mills, Maine has one of the highest vaccination rates, one of the lowest COVID-19 death rates, a record budget surplus, and a record high rainy day fund,” Alexandra Raposa, Mills’ campaign manager, said in a written statement.

“Our unemployment claims are back to pre-pandemic levels, our GDP is growing, and our economy is making a comeback,” Raposa said. “Governor Mills is focused on delivering what Maine people need – like more housing, child care, and broadband and financial relief to combat inflation – so that we can keep moving Maine forward.”

Mills has not formally announced her plans or submitted nomination petitions but has been raising money aggressively to prepare for the campaign. Both Mills and LePage face possible primary challengers in June, although none of the potential challengers appears to be mounting a significant statewide campaign based on fundraising totals.


Democrats Kenneth Capron of Portland and Jon Glowa Sr., of South China, have raised $0 and $2,066, respectively. Republicans Michael Heath of Chelsea and Martin Vachon of Mariaville have raised $4,270 and $0, respectively. LePage has raised $885,000 and Mills has raised $1.6 million.

Other possible candidates include Michael Barton, a Green Independent from Limington, Sam Hunkler, who is unenrolled from Beals, and Harrison Kemp, a Libertarian from Old Town.

Former Congressman Bruce Poliquin, right, joined former Gov. Paul LePage and his wife, Ann, on Wednesday as the LePages walked to the State House. Poliquin also is running for his old job and wants to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer


LePage said the state economy was rescued by a $14.7 billion infusion of federal funding. And he renewed calls for income tax reductions to help people meet rising costs of necessities like gas and food.

Although budget forecasters warned that revenue predictions beyond 2023 were volatile, LePage said ongoing income tax cuts would be better than one-time $500 refunds, an idea first proposed by Republicans and embraced by Mills. He said budget projections show “we’re going to have enormous surpluses,” despite the warnings about long-term volatility.

“Take the $400 million and instead of giving $500 checks – lower the income tax effective immediately so … people can get money right now to fill their oil tanks,” LePage said. “We deserve it. We have earned it. And it’s time you treat us like human beings and not like prisoners.”


A new revenue projection is due by March 1. But Michael Allen, chairman of the nonpartisan Revenue Forecasting Committee, told lawmakers in December that the committee could only confidently project revenues through early fall given the uncertainty of the pandemic.

“We’re going to be out on a limb on this forecast,” Allen said at the time. “The idea is to try to make sure we’re not on a limb at the top of the tree. We’re trying to make sure we’re on a limb roughly in the middle of the tree so if we do break we’re not falling all that far.”

In fiscal 2022, income taxes will account for about $2 billion, or nearly 44 percent, of the state’s revenue of $4.6 billion, according to the December forecast.

LePage also repeated criticisms of Mills’ vaccine mandate for health care workers. The mandate led to relatively few job losses as the vast majority of health care workers complied, and it was supported by numerous public health associations and the state’s two largest hospital systems, MaineHealth and Northern Light Health.

LePage also pushed for an end to masking in schools, something state health officials and school administrators have been discussing as the omicron surge eases. Masks are recommended, not required, by the state, but requirements have been adopted at the local level.

“Take the masks off the kids and let them be kids,” LePage said. “We can deal with COVID in a very safe manner if we do our part. I think parents are better equipped to deal with COVID than Janet Mills.”


Joe Turcotte, campaign manager for former Gov. Paul LePage, carries a box containing the Republican’s nomination papers to the State House to submit to the Secretary of State. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer


LePage also sought to blame Mills for the steep increase in electricity rates, calling it “disgusting.” But the Public Utilities Commission oversees rate increases and experts say rising energy costs are a global trend linked to supply and demand imbalances in petroleum and natural gas markets during the pandemic.

This month, Mills unveiled an $8 million plan to provide a one-time, $90 consumer credit for an estimated 90,000 homeowners to help offset higher electricity bills.

When asked what he would say to public health officials at the state and federal levels who supported vaccine mandates, LePage said, “They made a mistake. They simply were wrong.”

LePage also was asked if he would roll back Mills’ expansion of Medicaid, or MaineCare, which provided health insurance to nearly 90,000 Mainers.

“I’m not going to repeal anything that is good for Maine people,” said LePage, who had vetoed Medicaid expansion while governor. “I will say this, however. I will reinstate work rules. If you’re able-bodied, you need to go to work.”

In response to Mills’ community college plan, LePage said Maine should follow Tennessee’s lead and create a public K-14 education system, which would provide free community college to all students.

The TN Promise program is a “last dollar” scholarship program, meaning it pays tuition and costs not covered by Pell grants and other assistance. In 2019-20, the program cost $32 million.

“What I believe is we should go K through 14, not just for the people during the pandemic get a free college,” he said. “We ought to follow Tennessee’s lead and make K through 14 with one exception – I would force every community college to focus on our trades.”

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