Governor of Maine Paul LePage made an appearance at the University of Maine on Thursday evening to discuss the ballot questions for the upcoming election. LePage took office in 2011 after serving two terms as a city councilor in Waterville starting in 2003. In the 2010 gubernatorial primaries, he beat six other Republicans to win the party’s nomination with 34.7 percent of the vote.
LePage started the conversation at the university Thursday by providing his opinions on the upcoming election on Nov. 8.
“I will be the first one to tell you that the Presidential candidates are weak,” LePage stated.
He explained that Hillary Clinton is running a “criminal enterprise” and is receiving unprecedented special treatment from the government and the FBI despite her unlawful activities. He also mentioned that he will be supporting Donald Trump over Clinton for one reason only.
“He [Trump] has proven in his business that he surrounds himself with very talented people.”
LePage then switched gears to some of the ballot questions for the November election. Question 1 is about legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana as an agricultural product. LePage believes Maine voters should reject this initiative.
“You can’t tax something people can grow in their backyard,” LePage said.
A member of the audience explained that he firmly believes that answering yes to Question 1 will not increase revenue for the state of Maine. LePage added that if the question passes, he legally cannot support or go against it due to federal and state laws he is currently subject to.
Question 2 establishes a three percent surtax on household incomes over $200,000 to support K-12 public education in Maine. During his discussion on this question, LePage asked the audience, “why would someone come to Maine for a job when they can get a job in New Hampshire and get a huge increase right on the top?”
Question 3, LePage said, is a very controversial topic for him. He clarified that the question of background checks for gun sales and transfers isn’t and shouldn’t be solely about guns. He explained that if someone wants to tie together guns, mental illness and terrorism, he could talk about it for days on end. The ballot question is not specific enough, according to LePage.
The Governor then began to discuss some of the contributions he has made in Maine since 2011.
“When I came into office, the state of Maine was 47th in fiscal responsibility. And now we are ranked number one. That’s why I became governor.” Additionally, the unemployment rate has decreased by four percent since he took office and he has started a college program for high school students.
LePage talked about a program he started for high school students called The Bridge Year Program. It is a program that allows students to earn college credits while still in high school.
“I personally participated in this program and it was the best decision I could have made for my education. It made college much more affordable after having completed almost an entire year’s worth of college credits before entering college,” first-year athletic training student Austin Morse said.
The event ended with audience members thanking Governor LePage for interacting with the public by speaking across the state and for having open office hours in Augusta on Thursday evenings.