LePage loses it with independents

Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013 in News

LePage loses it with independents

AUGUSTA -- Gov. Paul LePage, who is refusing to meet with his Legislature's actual leadership on the grounds that they happen to be of the opposite party, did agree to meet with several independents last week.

It did not go well.

Rep. Joe Brooks of Winterport, who is a former Democrat, set up the meeting with LePage.  Also attending were Rep. Jeff Evangelos of Friendship and Rep. Ben Chipman of Portland.  They are the only members who are not caucusing with either the Democratic or Republican parties in the House.

Evangelos mentioned that leaders in his midcoast district were worried about the elimination of revenue sharing.  Revenue sharing is the amount of money the state splits with municipalities.  Eliminating revenue sharing for the next two years will save the state $200 million, but will likely cause property taxes to rise by hundreds of dollars as towns compensate for the loss of income. LePage got irritated, the trio said.

He raised his hands over his head, then pounded the table, Brooks said.

“‘You guys, you’re idiots and you’re just as bad if not worse than those other guys,’” LePage said.  Evangelos said he assumed LePage was referring to the Democrats. 

“He went right through the roof when I asked him the question,” Evangelos said. “He flew up like a jack-in-the-box and ran out of the room and slammed the door.” 

Left alone in the office, the three representatives thought the discussion was over before it began, but LePage returned, swearing and yelling at the three men.

LePage then said, according to Evangelos, “You tell me where you’re going to find the $200 million and I’ll put [revenue sharing] back in.”

Evangelos said he suggested repealing a package of income tax cuts passed in LePage’s first budget that took effect at the start of the month, a move that LePage promised to veto.  A suggestion that the Meals and Lodging Tax be increased met with more foul language; LePage went off on a tangent about Maine being unfriendly to business, and about many school superintendents "double dipping" by taking their pensions while accepting work in schools who are looking for experienced administrators.  

Sawin Millett, LePage's economic adviser, is also taking a salary while collecting a pension, and one of the representatives mentioned that. 

The men emerged from the meeting with little hope that LePage will be able to meet with the new Legislature.

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