Last month, Governor Paul LePage announced that he would not deliver Maine’s State of the State address this year, breaking with decades of tradition. In lieu of the speech, LePage today sent an letter to legislative leaders.
Unlike a normal State of the State, the missive does not announce any new policy priorities. Instead, the governor devotes the bulk of the letter to rehashing past disagreements with the legislature and attacking members of the House and Senate.
LePage’s new favorite insult is apparently “socialist” and he uses a variation of the word 13 times in the 8-page note, blaming a “foreign socialist ideology” for everything from deaths due to heroin overdoses (an issue the legislature has actually found bipartisan consensus on) to Maine’s electricity rates (which, for the record, are the lowest in New England).
LePage also reiterates his proposals to eliminate Maine’s income tax and implement new public assistance cuts that were rejected by the legislature last year. He does not mention that the ballot initiative he championed on those issues failed to gain the signatures required to be voted on this November.
In the letter, LePage blames a supposed lack of prosecutions by Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills for the fact that his previous initiatives cutting public assistance programs and ramping-up of fraud investigations haven’t resulted in savings for the state.
State of the State addresses are traditionally one of a governor’s best opportunities to advance their agenda and LePage’s speeches have been well-received in past years. His decision to retreat from the chambers of the legislature in favor of writing insult letters and attending locked-down “town halls” packed with his supporters is certainly unfortunate from the perspective of the dignity of his office, if not necessarily detrimental to the governance of the state.