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Governor’s Address: Speaker Gideon Kills Good Legislation That Would Benefit the Maine People

The Maine people elect legislators to represent them in Augusta. They expect these elected officials to enact good public policy that benefits all Mainers. But some legislators put politics over people. Unfortunately, too many legislators are more interested in playing political games than doing the work of the Maine people. The worst offender is Speaker of the House Sara Gideon.

I am a tough negotiator, but I am willing to negotiate. I am willing to have a conversation, and sometimes these might be difficult. They should be difficult, because as leaders, we must make tough choices.

But rather than sit down at a table with me and have honest conversations and negotiate, Speaker Gideon holds press conferences complaining about Republicans. She’s even accused us of being terrorists. Rather than negotiate and do the work of the people, she killed Republican’s bills—bills that were good policy—for no reason. She hoped to extend the legislative session to ram through bad bills at the last minute.

Republicans put in bills to provide funding for workers for the elderly and disabled, opioid treatment, county jails, people on wait lists and nursing homes. Speaker Gideon killed them all. She wouldn’t address tax conformity, which would give tax relief to hard-working Mainers and small businesses.

She even tabled a bill that would help the elderly stay in their homes—or at least keep their equity if they were facing tax-lien foreclosures. Speaker Gideon would rather throw the elderly on the street than give a Republican-backed bill a win.

Speaker Gideon then tried to extend the session, but not by negotiating. An email from an advocate for addiction and mental health services revealed the Speaker’s strategy: she met with advocates and lobbyists and urged them not to work with Republicans. The email stated: If the advocates can convince the Republicans to extend the session, Gideon promised to help pass key bills sponsored by the advocates.

This is not good governance. It is partisan politics at its worst. It does not help Maine people. Gideon does not work across the aisle or reach out to the Governor’s Office. Instead, she held a press conference on Wednesday to reveal her proposal to extend the legislative session. Negotiating through sound bites and photo ops, rather than working with her colleagues in the State House, is not working. This is a massive failure of leadership.

Gideon’s failure to lead resulted in a state shut down last summer, and it has led to a stalemate this session. Now hundreds of bills are left to die—bills the legislature had been avoiding for months.

The Speaker is concerned about saving face and playing politics. She is not doing the right thing for the people of the State of Maine.

Remember that in November.

Thank you.

Paul LePage


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