House Republican leaders Rep. Ken Fredette (R-Newport) and Alexander Willette (R-Mapleton) applauded Governor LePage’s message in his State of the State address Tuesday night. The speech was delivered in the House Chamber before a joint session of the Legislature.
“I think the Governor struck the right tone of passionate advocacy for Maine children and families,” said Rep. Fredette. “Our policies must, above all else, ensure that Mainers have bigger paychecks, lower bills, and our children have a brighter future right here in the state that we love.”
In his speech, Governor LePage emphasized the need for education reform, for more affordable energy and to pass his plan to retire Maine’s hospital debt.
House Republicans fully support the Governor’s goal of bringing an end to the educational status quo and implementing reforms that give Maine parents more choice, better prepare students for the workplace, and deliver more accountability and transparency to Maine’s schools.
“Although local teachers work tirelessly, the teachers’ union in Augusta has been a major obstacle to education reform,” said Rep. Willette. “Under Republican leadership, Maine children will come first and they will see the reforms they need to excel.”
Fredette and Willette said that they support an expansion of charter schools, career/technical training, the five-year high school program, the teacher evaluation program currently being implemented, and finding ways to reward our best teachers. They also are very enthusiastic about the Governor’s proposal to implement a grading system for Maine schools to foster transparency and competition.
The House Republican leaders also agree with the Governor’s focus on lowering energy costs for Maine people and businesses. With the 12th-highest electricity rates in the nation and the highest per capita dependence on fuel oil for heating, Maine needs more natural gas and hydro power to bring down household expenses and business overhead.
“Because of past policies that favored green energy speculation over household budgets, the PUC was recently forced to require ratepayers to subsidize an offshore wind project to the tune of $200 million,” said Rep. Fredette. “Republicans prioritize lower rates above all else.”
Governor LePage also reiterated the importance of implementing his plan to retire the state’s debt to its hospitals. The plan would use a renegotiated liquor contract to secure a bond to repay the hospitals, essentially refinancing the state’s debt in a timely manner so as to leverage quickly vanishing federal matching funds.
“The plan is commonsense, and it’s clear that the public believes we can do better with the liquor contract,” said Rep. Willette. “Retiring the hospital debt would be a boon to Maine’s economy, and we owe it to Maine people to get it done.”
Rep. Fredette said that the Governor’s address powerfully summarized what Maine Republicans stand for: “Policies that put family finances first and initiatives that aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo in government, from education to energy.”