Republicans, Democrats spar over meaning of LePage's vetoes


vetoAUGUSTA – Republicans and Democrats across the state are squabbling over Gov. Paul LePage’s record number of vetoes in the wake of a final round of rejected legislation.

While Democrats claim LePage’s record 83 vetoes in the current session have scuttled too many worthwhile bills, Republicans say Majority Democrats are ignorant of how to operate in divided government and have pushed too many far left proposals.

In a fundraising email to Democrats, Maine Democratic Party Field Director Jonathan Hillier drew attention to LePage’s veto of bills to increase the state’s minimum wage, impose stricter environmental regulations, and expand welfare programs.

“The Democratic majorities we elected in the legislature worked for motnhs to pass these common sense protections for the people of Maine. And they worked hard yesterday to override the vetoes of the Governor,” wrote Hillier. “Unfortunately, most of these attempts were unsuccessful because of Republicans who put loyalty to LePage ahead of loyalty to their constituents.”

Hillier asks supporters to donate money to the Maine Democratic Party in order to fund 100,000 phone calls and door knocks by September 1.

In a press release from the House Republican Office, House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette (R-Newport) defended LePage’s uninhibited use of the veto pen, blaming the high veto rate on Democrats’ inability to work with Republicans.

“They’ve been acting like they have a liberal Democratic governor,” said Fredette. “Instead of coming together as members of leadership or on legislative committees and saying to Republicans, ‘let’s get something done together,’ Democrats have simply steamrolled through a hyper-partisan, extremist liberal agenda,” he said, pointing to Democratic attempts to cripple charter schools, expand welfare programs, repeal bipartisan workers’ compensation reforms, and more.

“Nobody should be surprised to see this many vetoes.”

The GOP statement points out that Republican Gov. John McKernan, who held office from 1987 to 1995 while Democrats controlled both houses of the Legislature, ranks sixth (14 in 1989) and seventh (13 in 1993) for the most single-year vetoes in Maine history. Governor LePage, by contrast, has vetoed over 80 bills so far this year.

Fredette said Democrats’ radically liberal proposals, not divided government, explains the differences between McKernan and LePage’s use of the veto.

Assistant Minority Leader Alexander Willette (R-Mapelton), who is also a Republican candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat, agreed with Fredette, point to successful consensus-building efforts in the previous, Republican-controlled Legislature.

“Mainers are not liberal people and they expect pragmatism, not political score-keeping,” said Willette. “There have been occasions where Republicans switched their votes to sustain vetoes when new information arises, but the real story here is the high number of vetoes overall and the Democrats’ inability to work with Republicans to pass good, bipartisan legislation.”

S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently the executive producer of the Kirk Minihane Show. Follow him on Twitter @BigSteve207.

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