Republican Gov. Paul LePage is bashing "liberals" and invoking a philosophy of "do no harm" as he urges lawmakers to protect the vulnerable and to adopt his economic agenda.
But he's also asking lawmakers to work him over the next two years, and he even invited them to join him at the Blaine House after his State of the State address. That's a far cry from a year ago in which he snubbed lawmakers by skipping the formal address after Democrats tried unsuccessfully to impeach him.
His address Tuesday night touched upon many familiar themes, including protecting the elderly and disabled, reducing taxes, lowering energy costs and tackling the opioid crisis.
He said Maine was once known for "rugged individualism" but that liberals are trying to transform the state into a "socialist utopia."
LePage said during his address that he's working to resolve the state's opiate crisis with a lawmaker he once described as having a "black heart."
The Republican governor spent much of his address Tuesday evening bashing "liberals" but he singled out the Senate minority leader Troy Jackson of Allagash as a Democrat he's working with.
He thanked lawmakers for working with him to address a drug crisis that's claiming a life every day.
Lepage credited the hiring of more state drug agents for a bust that resulted in the seizure of 8 pounds of heroin last month in Maine and Massachusetts.
He also said lawmakers need to spend education dollars more efficiently. He said only 59 cents of each dollar makes it into the classroom.
During the address, LePage accused "liberals" of forgetting about the elderly, the disabled and those with mental disabilities.
He said his past budget would've eliminated wait lists to ensure there's help for those who need home support for intellectual disabilities. But he said lawmakers provided only a third of what he asked for, leaving people waiting on wait lists.
He also told a joint session of the Legislature that welfare should go to "the most vulnerable citizens" including the physically and mentally disabled.
He quoted the late President Ronald Reagan in saying that welfare's success should be measured in how many people leave welfare. He said able-bodied Mainers between 19 and 50 years old need to get "get off the couch and get a job."
LePage said the state's referendum process has hoodwinked Mainers. During his State of the State address on Tuesday he said that Mainers didn't understand the details when they voted to raise the minimum wage and impose a tax on high-income earners.
He said the referendum process is making state lawmakers "irrelevant." He also said it's time to reform referendums, and "to return to a representative government."
LePage used his address to promote his two-year state budget and his long-held goal to eliminate the income tax. He criticized lawmakers, saying "there is no political will in Augusta to lower the income tax or to create prosperity."
LePage opened his State of the State address by pointing out the need to protect the elderly - and by taking a shot at liberals.
He said Maine was once known for "rugged individualism" but that liberals are trying to transform the state into a "socialist utopia." He also took a shot at "liberals in southern Maine," saying they've never been struggling places like Calais, Machias, Rumford or Fort Kent.