February 5, 2013

Local legislators largely take party lines in reaction to State of the State address

Republicans praise honesty of speech; Democrats ruffled by hard line on education

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

AUGUSTA -- Rep. Paul Davis said he appreciated Gov. Paul LePage's honesty during Tuesday night's State of the State address.

click image to enlarge

Gov. Paul LePage, left, chats with Rep. Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, as he enters the House chamber to give his State of the State address on Tuesday, in the State House in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Craig Hickman, House 82, 2012

Contributed photo

Additional Photos Below

"He told it like it is," said Davis, R-Sangerville, a former Senate Republican leader. "The state is in bad shape, but he said the answer to a lot of our problems was to provide a good education."

In an hour-plus address, LePage spoke passionately about his desire to improve schools -- and his concern that test scores aren't higher and that Mainers spend too much on administration.

While Davis liked the governor's plain-spoken address, Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner, said the Republican governor went too far.

"I really was not happy about the bashing of schools and superintendents," she said. "Superintendents work extremely hard. We could fire them all tomorrow and not be able to give teachers a raise."

In the same vein, Rep. Catherine Nadeau, D-Winslow, said she was disappointed that the governor did not talk at all about the importance of early childhood education.

"We have to start earlier," she said. "I didn't hear that."

Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, the assistant Senate minority leader, said the governor gave a heartfelt address about education and the need to end domestic violence.

"I thought the governor really spoke from his heart," he said. "It was particularly heartening to hear him talk about how he's willing to work with both parties."

Throughout the speech, LePage departed from the prepared text, joking about his willingness to wear more blue ties if it would help him work better with Democrats. He talked about his anger, which he said comes from his desire to improve schools and secure lower energy costs, and his intolerance for domestic violence.

He referred to his abusive childhood in Lewiston and the need for all men to protect women and children.

Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, said he's looking forward to working on more domestic-violence legislation as a member of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, said he was glad the governor paid tribute to veterans and focused on education.

As a freshman legislator, he was impressed by the pomp and circumstance of the evening in the House chamber.

"It was a good night all around," he said.

Susan Cover -- 621-5643

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Additional Photos

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Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan


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