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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Maine's governor Paul LePage has not delivered on the state's economy

Maine's summer weather attracts millions of tourists who're enjoying the state's gorgeous coastline and other natural beauty. Nevertheless, the fact is, tourism notwithstanding, there's not much economy remaining for the locals after the visitors leave, in the fall.

Meanwhile, Maine's government is trying to balance a fiscal policy that balances paying for essential services while reducing the tax burden. This high wire fiscal act is complicated because, frankly, there hasn't been much investment in Maine, in recent years. Instead, the state's population has remained stagnant, workforce recruitment has been challenging, professional jobs are mostly found in the health care or service sector and the population is the oldest, per capita, than any other American state.  In other words, Mainer's are old.

Enter Governor Paul LePage.  In his second gubernatorial term, Governor LePage should've had Maine's future in the palm of his hand. All LePage had to do was to "get along" with the legislature and he could've probably created a new Maine order.  

Instead of the governor using his clout to initiate a progressive agenda, LePage began to fire key people, just because he could  

Indeed, the passion LePage had for putting key professional people out of work, by simply eliminating them from their positions, was obsessive. Now, it seems like the Maine legislature is about to put Governor LePage out of work. 

It's possible the Maine legislature, with bipartisan agreement, will try to remove the governor from his position, because he clearly abused his authority on several occasions. Most recently, the governor caused the removal of the Speaker of the House Mark Eves from his new job as the president of the Goodwill-Hinckley School. In other words, Governor LePage forced the board to fire Eves by threatening to withhold state money if they did not do so. 
Eves said the governor's actions was "blackmail"....an illegal act.

Although the Maine legislature has been upset with Governor LePage because of his "my way or the highway" executive style, the fact is, the state was stuck with him until the end of his second term.  Except.....Governor LePage hasn't delivered.  Rather than build Maine's economy, the plan LePage had in mind was to cut taxes. Obviously, with Maine being the oldest and among one of the poorest American states, there's no way the governor's tax cutting plan could sustain the state's infrastructure, social services safety nets or the educational programs necessary to support a viable workforce. Maine people are dying at the same rate as they are being born.  Professional people are unable to find jobs.  There hasn't been a successful investment of industrial growth and development in Maine, in the recent memory. Bath Iron Works (BIW), a heavily subsidized defense ship building company, is the state's largest employer, but the prospect of every contract becomes a federal cliff hanger.  There's no way of knowing exactly how many more ships BIW can build in the next 20 years, especially when the same work can also be performed in Mississippi.   

In other words, Governor LePage has a problem much bigger than his "mouth".  Rather, Governor LePage has not delivered.  

Rather than waste his time creating circus style media events and consuming the media with his blatantly rude misstatement, all Governor LePage had to do, to be successful, was to simply get along with people.  Instead of creating acrimony, he should have been photographed taking investors on tours of BIW, or welcoming new employees to Maine's businesses.  

Instead, LePage put up a stupid Christmas tree outside of his office, so he could hang pictures of Maine legislators he didn't happen to like as the ornaments.  He even allowed pictures to be taken of himself squeezing a rubber like pig to emphasize how the Maine budget included spending known as "pork".  This imagery hasn't engage people who are interested in opening Maine businesses.  

Now, LePage is a governor without a platform, because he lost his budget "battle", in short order, with the Maine legislature.  

Indeed, LePage has very little support from either political party in the legislature.

(The New York Times reported LePage is a "Party of One"). He's increasingly isolated from his political foes and partisan allies.  

Governor LePage seems to feel entitled to his authority. Okay, let's give the governor his authority. Except, his inability to fix Maine's economy has failed. Therefore, if Governor LePage is eventually impeached for his abuse of authority, the fact is, his punishment will really be caused by his inability to fix Maine's economy.  

As a matter of fact, the governor's brashness, bluntness, or even his abrasive and rude abuse of authority are not the root of his political turmoil. Rather, Governor LePage is a victim of ineptness. He hasn't delivered on improving Maine's economy. Evidently, he has now run out of time and his clout has evaporated into political acrimony. In fact, LePage has passed the point of no return. Although Maine is stuck with the governor for about 3 more years, unless he is impeached or resigns, his term is essentially over.


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