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Dems skeptical of LePage's solutions for Maine

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 6, 2013 at 1:56 am •  Published: February 6, 2013

"As a youth, domestic violence hit close to home for me. I wasn't a spouse, I was a child," said LePage. "It's a heinous crime and we men need to stand up and shout loud and clear we are going to protect our women and children."

LePage, who frequently digressed from his written text, listed accomplishments he and the Republican-majority Legislature made during the 2011-12 session, including lowering taxes for two-thirds of Maine taxpayers, eliminating $1.7 billion of state pension system shortfall and repaying $248 million of the state Medicaid debt to hospitals.

But LePage faces a far different political climate this year after Democrats captured control of both chambers in November. His proposals will require at least some measure of bipartisan support in order to be enacted and relations with Democratic leaders have been cool so far. He did meet Monday with Democratic leaders to discuss the year's agenda, in a meeting attendees said went well.

LePage warned that there are some efforts to undo some of the tax cuts, but a Democratic leader said he knows of no such effort in his party.

"I'm unfamiliar with any efforts to repeal those tax cuts," said Rep. Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan, the assistant House majority leader.

House Majority Leader Seth Berry said LePage's rhetoric "doesn't match reality and won't get results.

"When it comes to energy solutions, Maine must continue a bipartisan and comprehensive energy strategy that will put more money in the pockets of Maine people while creating jobs," said Berry, D-Bowdoinham.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Aroostook, said the governor believes public taxpayer money "should support for-profit, schools, not public education. Democrats hold up the ladder of opportunity for everyone, while the governor pays lip service to increasing educational opportunity."

A Republican leader said LePage spoke passionately for Maine children and families.

"Our policies must, above all else, ensure that Mainers have bigger paychecks, lower bills, and our children have a brighter future right here in the state that we love," said House GOP leader Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport.

Parts of the speech had been released hours early through Twitter, making LePage the first Maine governor to use social media to draw attention to a State of the State speech.