BANGOR, Maine — Lauren LePage, the governor’s daughter and a member of his inner staff, listed tax reform, health care reform and regulatory reform as achievements of her father’s first six months in office.
Speaking to a small audience hosted by the Bangor Republican Committee on Wednesday, Lauren LePage, assistant to the chief of staff for Gov. Paul LePage, also said more work needs to be done.
“Jobs are his number one priority and that’s not a Democrat or Republican issue,” she said. “He wants to make sure all Mainers are prosperous.”
LePage spent about 20 minutes talking about the accomplishments of the 125th Legislature’s first regular session, which wrapped up in June, and what role the governor played in those accomplishments.
She said LD 1333, a law that overhauls Maine’s health insurance laws by among other things allowing consumers to cross state lines to purchase insurance was among the biggest successes.
She also said the budget, which included the biggest tax cut in Maine’s history, represented a great compromise. In fact, LePage wondered why House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, recently criticized those tax cuts when many members of her caucus voted for the budget.
On regulatory reform, LePage said LD 1 represents a “good down payment” on improving the business climate in Maine by eliminating burdensome regulations. She dispelled the notion, however, that her father and boss is anti-environment.
“He has no intention of rolling back environmental regulations,” she said, noting that the governor’s administration recently imposed a $900,000 fine on Chevron for a longstanding oil spill in Hampden.
Looking forward, the younger LePage said more work needs to be done on welfare reform, something she hears concerns about every day from constituents. As an assistant to John McGough, the governor’s chief of staff, Lauren LePage said she often deals with constituent concerns.
“The governor believes the state still spends way too much on entitlement programs,” she said.
After her presentation, LePage fielded questions from a friendly audience of Republicans. She was asked whether the governor plans to revisit “right to work” legislation next year, to which LePage responded that lawmakers likely would tackle that. The governor has said publicly on more than one occasion that he intends to go after right to work.
Many who attended Wednesday’s Bangor Republican Committee meeting, including local lawyer N. Laurence Willey, complimented LePage’s presentation.
“Don’t let anyone say you’re not a good public speaker,” he told her.
Lauren LePage, who worked on her father’s successful campaign for governor, took criticism when she was hired to work on his staff. Democrats in particular said the governor showed poor taste by hiring his own daughter, a 22-year-old recent college graduate, for a $41,000-a-year job.
Lauren LePage said Wednesday that she still hears whispers of nepotism but she also said now that people understand that she’s doing more than answering phones, the controversy has subsided.
She was asked whether the governor would weigh in on same-sex marriage given that the citizens’ initiative effort to put a question on the November 2012 ballot was approved Wednesday by the Secretary of State’s Office.
“He’s focused on job creation, so I don’t think that’s a big priority of his,” LePage said.
Asked for her own opinion on the subject, the governor’s daughter said it was a topic she did not feel comfortable talking about.