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LePage touts education, energy plans in address

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm •  Published: February 5, 2013

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.

McCabe and Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, told Maine Public Broadcasting Network the governor had identified a lot of issues their party also consider important, including repaying the hospitals.

But Goodall said LePage isn't offering enough help for middle class taxpayers, saying the governor's budget calls for property tax increases that aren't so family friendly.

"That's a real problem for us," Goodall said.

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.