LePage says he might skip State of the State speech

Gov. Paul LePage, during his 2015 State of the State address. BDN file photo by Ashley Conti.

Gov. Paul LePage, during his 2015 State of the State address. BDN file photo by Ashley Conti.

Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday morning during a live radio interview that he might deliver this year’s State of the State address in a letter rather than addressing the House and Senate in person, as is custom.

The highly anticipated State of the State address is usually held in the first week or two of February when the entire Legislature, Cabinet members and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court gather in the Maine House.

LePage was asked about the timing of the event this morning during his weekly appearance on WVOM.

“I don’t know,” said the governor. “It’s going to be some time but it’s probably going to go back to the 1800s and I’ll do it by letter. … Why am I going to go up and face people and talk to them in an audience that just a week or two before, they’re trying to impeach me? That’s just silliness. … I’ll send them a letter and we’ll call it a day.”

LePage has used previous State of the State addresses to outline his policy agenda and discuss recent political successes. For the most part, LePage’s prior addresses have been thoughtfully delivered.

It was unclear how serious LePage was. His spokeswoman told the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday morning that a date for the speech has not yet been set. It’s hard to imagine that LePage would skip the opportunity to take the spotlight for an event that would be broadcast live and covered by virtually every media organization in the state.

Tough talk on the lottery

In another interesting development, LePage said he is concerned about too many poor people buying too many lottery tickets, as revealed recently by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. Last week, members of the Legislature’s watchdog Government Oversight Committee voted to fast-track an investigation into the matter. Legislative leaders have said they favor putting restrictions on lottery sales — for example by barring the use of state-funded cash welfare benefits to buy lottery tickets. Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland, has a proposal to that effect.

Without mentioning any specific bill, LePage said he would support measures that stopped poor people from buying tickets.

“If [the Legislature] brought a bill across my desk, I wouldn’t even require two-thirds,” said LePage, referring to his practice last year of vetoing nearly every bill, forcing at least two-thirds of legislative support to override him. “I’d sign it right off.”

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.