LePage was sworn in as his family and four past governors watched from the stage: his predecessor John Baldacci, Angus King, John McKernan and Joseph Brennan.
LePage is the 74th governor of Maine and the state’s first Republican chief executive in 16 years. During his address to the crowd, LePage echoed much of the rhetoric of his campaign. His speech was filled with platitudes.
He said he would like to work in a bipartisan manner. For the past eight years bipartisanship has been the mainstay with some budgets even being unanimous. It is how government works in Maine. In order for LePage to do anything constructive he will have to keep to his word and become bipartisan.
He said he wants to cut government waste. Of course people in all political parties would like to see government expenditures go down if they think there is government waste. Most people don’t want to see services for people in need cut. The fact is the current state budget is at the same level it was in 2004. Programs, cuts, and consolidation measures have already been put into action by Gov. Baldacci to such a degree anymore savings through cuts would hurt citizens that are in dire need. The state’s workforce is 1,000 jobs less than it was eight years ago.
It is widely known that the majority of people on welfare want to get off of welfare. Putting a limit of five years for welfare services, as LePage said in his speech, could really hurt children in need. We’re coming out of a recession, which is the worst time to cut services.
“Maine is the hardest place in the country to start and grow a business,” said LePage. This statement is an outright lie. The fact is, The Tax Foundation recently ranked Maine No. 31, with No. 1 being the best, for business tax climate in fiscal year 2011. Maine dropped from No. 1 in this same conservative Tax Foundation’s ranking of state tax burdens to No. 15 during Baldacci’s time in office.
In the past eight years over 310 companies have located to Maine or expanded their businesses here because of Pine Tree Zone Tax incentives. They represent a total investment of $873 million, with an annual payroll of $341 million. That’s 8,206 jobs. Over two hundred of these companies are in manufacturing. The majority of these businesses would never considered Maine if it wasn’t for these highly competitive tax incentives.
LaPage said, “Training our young people in a trade while they earn their diploma is a path to a good living.” We’re already doing that with our community colleges.
Eight years ago Governor Baldacci started the community college system to open the doors of higher education for more people in Maine. He transformed the vocational/technical colleges into community colleges. Now after a student earns an associate degree at a community college they can transfer their credits to any Maine University to further their education and earn a Bachelors degree.
Community colleges also are working with local area businesses to train the workforce in skills they need for those businesses. Investing more in our community college system, that has a waiting list because of the high demand, would be a sound next step instead of starting up more vocational education in high school as LePage said he wanted.
LePage also made a pitch for charter schools, which would take public funds away from public education. In essence the people of Maine would be paying for private schools while our public school system is strapped for funds.