AUGUSTA (NEWS CENTER Maine) — Gov. Paul LePage had some harsh words for legislative leaders Thursday after lawmakers went home with a lot of important issues left on the table.
Those issues include funding for schools and county jails and a bill to continue pay raises for direct care workers that were approved last year. Lawmakers were also waiting to decide on conforming Maine’s income taxes to match federal tax cuts and to vote on a new bond to raise money for repairing roads and bridges.
Republicans and Democrats in the House were once again unable to agree Wednesday on a plan to extend the session and finish their work. As a result, the state legislature voted final adjournment for the year and went home. That leaves those issues and more unresolved.
Gov. LePage said that work needs to be done, and blamed the top leaders of the legislature for the problem.
"The vacuum of leadership in the 128th legislature is astounding,” LePage said. "And I would recommend that [House] Speaker Gideon resign and [Senate President] Mike Thibodeau resign and then we can do some business for the people of the state of Maine."
► VIDEO: LePage blasts Legislature
Gideon, a Democrat from Freeport, is speaker of the House. Thibodeau, a Republican from Winterport, is president of the Senate.
The governor called the legislature’s lack of action "outrageous."
But despite his criticism, the governor said Republicans in the House — who are the ones who refused to extend the session — did the right thing.
"You can't call people terrorists and then try to work with them," LePage said.
That was a reference to a comment made by Gideon two weeks ago, to which she later apologized.
Thibodeau responded to the governor late Thursday afternoon, with a written statement saying he and the governor have a difference of opinion about what leadership means.
"I want tax conformity done; the governor wants tax conformity done," Thibodeau said. "The Senate voted unanimously to extend the session and finish the work we were sent to do. I’m not sure what he means. Perhaps the governor’s recent absences have left him uninformed about what is happening in the legislature. I would welcome the opportunity to bring him up to speed."
Thibodeau told NEWS CENTER Maine recently that he and the governor had not met with each other for several months.
The party leaders in the Legislature have said they will get back together and try to find a compromise so they can call a special session later this month or in June. LePage said he will not call a special session himself, and is leaving it up to the legislature to solve its problems.