VIDEO: Gov. Paul LePage addresses the 2012 Maine Republican Convention
Gov. Paul LePage addressed the 2012 Maine Republican State Convention at the Augusta Civic Center. LePage spoke on the second day of the convention, following a contentious first day.
He was introduced by Rep. Rich Cebra (R-Naples).
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Good Afternoon, it feels good to be back at the Maine Republican Convention – and thank you Rich Cebra, a true conservative who has had my back in Augusta.
The Maine people spoke in November 2010.
Maine people were fed up with decades of job killing policies, out of control welfare spending, and mounting debt. The Maine people said they wanted change. The Maine people said they wanted reform. The Maine people spoke and said they wanted “People before Politics.” And despite what the media or our critics would have you believe – that is exactly what we have set out to do.
As you know I came into the Governor’s Office with a business background.
I knew how to create jobs because I spent my career in Maine’s business community, turning around businesses, creating jobs and economic opportunity in one of the toughest anti-business climates in the country. I knew about how to find efficiencies in programs and lower taxes from my successful time as Mayor.
During my campaign for Governor, I made several promises to the Maine people:
I promised to lower taxes for Maine people and our job creators. Our opponents said it couldn’t be done.
Eliot Cutler – a man who is still running for Governor – mocked me. He called it “pandering.” But with the help of the new Republican Legislature, we produced what Eliot Cutler and the liberal media said couldn’t be done.
We produced the largest tax cut in Maine’s history. For the first time in decades, Augusta was thinking of how to let you keep more of your hard earned money – instead of taking more out of your pocket. I promised to get Maine’s fiscal house in order. I kept that promise and reduced $1.7 billion dollars of pension debt on the books, 45% of the existing pension shortfall. You can’t pay a pension with an I.O.U.
I promised to lower the cost of doing business in Maine.
That promise was kept, and workers’ compensation insurance premiums are down 7%. 7% more that can be used to create jobs in Maine, or increase Mainers’ wages.
I promised to fix the infrastructure in Maine to improve Maine’s economy. I kept that promise, and we added $104 million dollars to the 2012/2013 road and bridge plan. But here is what’s important – over $100 million dollars… all without borrowing money. We CANNOT continue to shackle our kids, our grandkids, and our future unborn with mountains of debt. That’s the Obama way.
I promised to reduce red tape, easing the burden of government on Maine’s job creators. With the help of the Legislature, I kept that promise and delivered LD 1 – a good down payment on reducing red tape. And when it comes to job creation we are changing the culture of state agencies from “NO” to “CAN DO.” And if you are not on board, get out of the way. Folks, I am here to tell you that when it comes to jobs – Maine is “Open for Business.”
I promised to bring transparency to government. Under Republican leadership, years of gift cards, European vacations, and massages ended. This also resulted in the conviction and incarceration of the former Executive Director of the Maine Turnpike Authority.
I promised to end Maine’s status as a “Sanctuary State.” And I did, ON DAY ONE.
Even as we mark success, Maine needs structural change in welfare, energy and education.
I understand welfare, because I lived it. I understand the difference between a want versus a need.
Republicans were elected in 2010 because we promised welfare reform. We must deliver this promise. We made minor progress with a 5-year cap placed on welfare.
However, Republicans must come together and find the courage to make the tough, necessary decisions.
Maine’s welfare spending has INCREASED, folks – that’s increased, by over $1 billion dollars in the last decade. Even today we still face a shortfall of almost $90 million in our welfare programs. It is simply wrong and unfair for Maine people who earn FAR LESS than the national average in income to pay FAR MORE than the national average in welfare costs.
Year after year, state government has used one-time federal funding, accounting gimmicks, misuse of funds and not paying hospitals to feed this welfare beast. The time to fix the problem is now – with real structural changes. There is a free lunch for some – but you’re picking up the tab. Maine’s welfare program is cannibalizing the rest of our budget. I am committed to protecting our elderly, our children, and our disabled.
But to all you able-bodied folks on welfare… get off the couch, and go to work!
I want to reduce Maine’s total spending and reestablish the core priorities for our welfare program.
So here is my message to the editorial writers, and paid welfare advocates: Maine people are tired of your rhetoric. Please, contact your legislators and demand they find the courage to fix Maine. Hold their feet to the fire.
Republicans are not the party that kicks the can down the road – the time to fix Maine is now.
The number 1 inhibitor to job creation is our high energy costs. If we want economic prosperity – we must reduce our oil, gas, and electricity prices. We cannot continue to pay $326 million more than the national average for electricity, and expect to keep and attract investments in Maine. Some think government should mandate what types of energy Mainers must buy – regardless of expense.
Maine’s renewable mandates are doing one thing: fattening the bank accounts for a few investors at the expense of the Maine people.
This session, I proposed removing the 100 MW restriction on renewable hydropower. It was a fierce battle, in which the greedy investors won and the Maine people lost. I believe there are two special interest groups that are not represented in Augusta – the ratepayer, and the taxpayer. When it comes to Mainers, versus special interest groups, I stand with Mainers.
Let me be clear – I am not opposed to any form of energy which is affordable to Mainers. However, it is morally and ethically wrong to take money from those who can least afford it to line the pockets of those who are politically connected in Augusta.
You know…Angus King wants to be your US senator, but before the media coronates him – let me do it: Angus King – the “King” of the wind cartel. True, he’s likeable.
Let’s not forget he made his fortune off the backs of Mainers, lobbying for higher energy prices. I am committed to fighting to reducing energy costs for Mainers.
Maine people deserve prosperity.
Job creators tell us – they have jobs, but often times lack a skilled people to fill them. Improving education in Maine starts with one simple step: “putting our kids first.” I always ask: “what is best for the student?”
Our kids must come first – not union bosses, superintendents or even principals.
I am proud of the career & technical education reforms we passed this year. Maine’s vocational trades must be brought back to the front of the building.
New legislation gives teachers the feedback they need to be effective.
I also introduced a bill giving Maine families a real choice. Children’s educational opportunities should not be determined by their street address. Our children deserve a quality education.
We must put students first.
Finally, there’s been a lot of talk at the State House about bonds. A bond is not a grant – it’s a loan, with interest. I refuse to look at any bond proposal, before we close the budget shortfall, and pay our bills.
Democrats claim the solution to our problem, is to borrow more money. Let me tell you – if that is their solution to economic prosperity, we’re in real trouble. Having spent my life as a business man, trust me when I tell you, I know a little bit about what it takes to create jobs. During the Baldacci administration, $725 million dollars in bonds were authorized by the Legislature.
$725 million dollars borrowed –54 new net jobs – folks, it sounds like the stimulus. That’s over $13 million dollars per job.
So, if we are serious about job creation, we can’t expect bonds will save the day. If we want good paying careers we must invest in our job creators by reducing red tape, lowering taxes, and making structural changes to energy, education and welfare. That is a formula for real job creation in Maine. These are long-term solutions that can help revive the American Dream for Mainers.
I know the American Dream, because I’ve lived it.
And this November represents a choice…
Do you want to remain a sinking welfare state?
Can we revive the American dream?
Should Mainers settle for below average income?
Do Mainers deserve prosperity?
Do our kids deserve a debt they can’t pay, and a government that overspends?
Or should we get out fiscal house in order, once and for all?
The time for talk has passed; it is now time for action.
If it is to be, it is up to us.
God bless the great State of Maine, and God Bless America.