Since the start of the nation’s most recent election, Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, has openly expressed his support for newly elected President Donald J. Trump for a variety of reasons. His support of the president, particularly since Trump’s inauguration in January, has also sparked some controversy within the state.
Like to President Trump, LePage started out as a businessman. He has stated that he thinks Donald Trump could become one of the greatest presidents ever, if he keeps a steady head and constructs a powerful cabinet. Also, like President Trump, LePage has made harsh remarks regarding the media and how it operates. LePage has also openly expressed his fears of incoming immigrants and has highlighted a connection between minorities and crime, much like President Trump has.
It was of little surprise, then, that on Feb. 14. 2017, LePage wrote a letter to President Trump asking to reverse an executive order made by the Obama Administration in August of 2016. The executive order created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
LePage urged President Trump to return the land to private ownership.
LePage stated that the executive order creating the monument was an injustice, not only for the people, but also for the forest.
As of right now, it is uncertain whether or not President Trump holds the power to reverse an executive order which has created a monument.
LePage’s letter to President Trump has sparked controversy among the citizens in the area, most specifically in Millinocket, the largest town in the Katahdin region, with a population of 4,506.
According to several residents in this region, after the monument was created, more people started investing money in the area on projects. Over twelve home sales occurred in Millinocket in September of 2016. This was just one month after Obama’s executive order came to fruition.
There were almost no home sales in September a year earlier, before the monument was created. Many Maine residents think LePage is wrong for attempting to reverse the executive order, citing that the monument has created jobs and has brought income to an area of Maine that is in heavy need of revenue.
LePage has also recently expressed his dislike on a new voter-approved tax surcharge on wealthy residents in Maine. He has stated that this surcharge is driving away “professionals” and is hurting the economy.
LePage has even said that once he has completed his term, this new tax hike may lead him and his family to leave the state as well.
The governor has also recently made a few trips to Washington D.C. and has been appearing on national television programs in support of President Trump, perpetuating speculation that he may be aiming for a job within the administration. This tax surcharge may also be the reason why LePage wants to leave the state.
Maine voters barely approved the 3 percent tax surcharge, which is levelled on Maine residents who have a yearly income of over $200,000. LePage said the surcharge was ruining the state and thinks that around 40 to 50 “professionals” have already left the state.
He believes that the state has become greedy and that it is punishing success.
But some Maine residents, as well as politicians, believe that LePage’s dislike of the surcharge is vague, specifically when he mentions a mass flocking of “professionals” from Maine due to this surcharge, without supplying any more context or detail about explaining what exactly a “professional” is.
Others also believe that LePage is making such a big deal about this simply because he does not want to pay this tax himself and would rather leave the state once he has completed his time in office. However, LePage’s annual salary is $70,000, which is $130,000 short of the amount the surcharge is taxing. It is hard to tell exactly how the surcharge will affect him personally.
LePage has also openly stated that he thinks Maine now has more open doors for success than it did under the Obama administration.
LePage has further praised President Trump for standing up against the media. When recently asked about how the media have been closely investigating President Trump’s ties to Russia, LePage backed the president and said all the media wants to do is control President Trump and what he represents. LePage called the media extremely powerful, but at the same time extremely fake.
LePage’s future plans, however, remain speculation.