A recent poll found that more Mainers approve of the governor's job performance this year than did last year. With a margin of error of four percent, 47 percent of Mainers like LePage's activities, according to Critical Insights. But 40 percent still don't — and even so, people are evenly split on whether the state is going in the right direction, or on the wrong track. In our tenth Gubernatorial Scorecard, here's a sampling of what the gov's been up to — whether you like it or not.
FEEDING GAME | LePage and his wife have spearheaded a series of Blaine House food drives, generating donations for Maine homeless shelters. It's provided LePage an opportunity to remind the public of his rough childhood, as well as perhaps combat impressions that he's a heartless, uncaring conservative who wants to slash welfare and unemployment benefits in the middle of a recession.
POLITICS • He gets to play a generous character on TV, even if not in real life | 10/10
POLICY • Helping the needy is always good; doing it in off time would be better if he did it while working too | 6/10
RETIREMENT GAME | The governor wants to cut income taxes on retiree pensions, at a cost to (other) taxpayers of $93 million. Where he's coming up with the money remains unclear, as does the reasoning behind taxing something his union-busting policies appear to treat as a luxury.
POLITICS • Playing to elderly voters is always a good thing in Maine | 10/10
POLICY • Pension-earning Mainers may soon be among the richest of us all | 4/10
ENERGY GAME | LePage has joined the bandwagon of politicos plumping for expanding Maine's use of natural gas in homes and businesses, saying the state's effort to bring natural gas to the mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket was key to their sale and reopening. While his rhetoric was characteristically confusing ("I'm for renewable fossil fuels," the old coot said), LePage has followed others' lead to something that could make a serious improvement in Maine's economy.
POLITICS • Another confusing GOPer in favor of state subsidies for business; but he said the word "jobs," so it's okay | 6/10
POLICY • Natural gas is cheap and plentiful, and it's not too foreign | 9/10
EDUCATION GAME | Continuing his feud with the state teachers' union, LePage said he would put funds in his budget for teacher training only to match similar investments by the union itself. The union says it already does some teacher training, and wants to talk more about expanding its program with state help.
POLITICS • He bluffed and got called on it by a key opponent | 3/10
POLICY • Helping teachers get better is a great idea that takes real money and real commitment from unions and government | 10/10
FUNDING GAME | Stepping up pressure on municipalities to adhere to state rules rather than passing more restrictive ones, LePage threatened to cut off state funding to towns that exceed state guidelines. Towns say this threatens the dying ideal of "local control," while admitting that most of their powers devolve from state laws anyway.
POLITICS • Deregulation (and standardizing across the state what few rules remain) is a GOP rallying cry, because it allegedly helps businesses | 8/10
POLICY • Once a bully, always a bully. This just expands his bullying into others' backyards | 2/10
This month's total | Politics 37/50 | Policy 31/50 | Last month: Politics 25/50 | Policy 15/50 | Overall: Politics 337/500 | Policy 219/500