DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage told about 200 people Thursday that he planned to meet next week with other state officials to begin toughening domestic violence regulations.
“What happened in this community recently should never have happened,” LePage said of the young Dexter mother and her two children who were murdered by the woman’s estranged husband, the children’s father. The man committed suicide after the murders.
LePage’s comments came during a public meeting in Dover-Foxcroft held to culminate his Piscataquis County “Capitol for a Day,” the sixth such event held in the state. Earlier in the day, LePage visited Mayo Regional Hospital and recognized it for consistently meeting the State Employee Health Commission’s criteria.
In the five years that Maine hospitals have been ranked on the quality of their care, only five of 36 hospitals have consistently sustained outstanding performance. Mayo, which has 25 acute care beds, is the only critical access hospital to be recognized.
LePage also toured Pleasant River Lumber in Dover-Foxcroft, Pepin Associates in Greenville, JSI in Milo and Hardwood Products Co. in Guilford.
“We, the government, failed because there were enough telltale signs and there was enough violence in that whole scenario that we should have been able to figure out what was going on,” LePage said of the deaths of Amy Lake and her two children, Coty and Monica, at the hands of Steven Lake. “Protective orders in the state of Maine are written on paper and that’s about as much value as they have. We need to put some teeth in it.”
LePage, who was joined at the podium by several members of his administration, was quizzed by residents on his plans to address the high school dropout rate, economic development, education, roads, social services and jobs.
Lisa Laser of Dover-Foxcroft inquired about the cuts being made to social services, but LePage said his administration had not cut social services; however, it is working to eliminate fraud.
“The state of Maine has now had 300,000 people out of 1.3 million people on Medicaid, the highest in the United States of America,” LePage said. The average in the U.S. is 19 percent and the state is at 27 percent of its population. “We have got so liberal with our social services that we’ve become the social service state in America.”
As for education, the state is doing a more extensive review of the school funding formula to make sure there are adequate resources across the state, residents were told. To help reduce the high school dropout rate, the state is examining a model that would allow students to progress at their own pace.
“One of the biggest problems in our school systems is we cannot keep our students interested,” LePage said. “The minute a student gets bored they look for alternatives and we just have to make it more interesting.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of Steven Lake as Stephen.