LePage challenges state workers to match $50,000 pledge for hurricane relief

Gov. Paul LePage announced Wednesday that his office will match up to $50,000 in donations made by state employees for hurricane relief efforts in Florida and Texas.

LePage spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz said LePage made the announcement that he would match donations using his official contingency account Wednesday morning during an event at the Blaine House which kicked off the annual Maine State Employees Combined Charitable Appeal.

“Remember Houston and what is happening in Florida,” tweeted LePage on Wednesday. “My office will match the first $50K donated to Harvey and Irma relief through MSSECA.”

The need is monumental. The Houston area was already flooded by epic rainfall totals from Harvey and Irma, headed toward the southeastern United States, is being called one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to originate in the Atlantic Ocean.

MSECCA is a charity payroll deduction program for state employees. It benefits a range of causes, including animal humane societies, the Red Cross and the United Way. Employees can choose which organizations to support.

LePage has made numerous donations from his contingency account over the years and by law the upper limit on that spending is $4,350,000 a year, though traditionally, the sum is closer to $350,000. In July, as part of an announcement about the budget surplus for fiscal year 2017, LePage said $350,000 of the surplus would flow into the account.

In its 9-year history, the MSECCA campaign has raised nearly $9 million. Employees are given incentives to donate. In 2016, departments that met their giving goals were given a day off on Dec. 23.

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.