The following is a transcript of the remarks given by Gov. Paul LePage during his 2014 re-election campaign kickoff event held Tuesday in Augusta. LePage deviated slightly from the prepared remarks, but not enough to alter the substance of the text presented below.
Actions speak louder than words.
Les actes sont plus eloquents que les paroles.
I came to the governorship from a background in business. I’m not one of those smooth-talking politicians. I came in as a job creator who knew how to grow Maine’s economy.
With reforms, we have created jobs — thousands of them. The unemployment rate is down a whole point — a 12.5 percent reduction. More than 7,000 jobs have been created since I took office. We’re on the upswing.
While politicians talk about poverty, I lived it. I know that when someone can work, a job is the best way out of poverty. I pushed through welfare reform: A new five-year cap on welfare benefits, a crackdown on fraud — quadrupling the number of fraud cases referred, stopping benefits for illegal aliens, working to reserve welfare for Maine people. There’s been a 41 percent reduction in welfare cases.
While other governors in the U.S. cut funding for K-12 education I proposed increases of 80 million dollars, but with new options and accountability to give every kid a real chance to succeed.
I’ve worked to stop domestic violence and protect women, kids, and other victims by changing bail codes and prison releases. And I signed a law to make sex trafficking a crime in Maine.
If you want to use the state for your own personal gain, you have the wrong governor. Through appointments we cracked down on fraud, cleaning up the [Maine] Turnpike Authority and other agencies.
I gave money back with the largest tax cut in Maine history, incentivizing jobs and cutting taxes up, and, yes down the scale. When Maine’s poorest workers file their taxes they’ll see a virtual elimination of income tax because it’s important to give a hand up, not just a hand out.
I stopped the automatic annual increase of the gasoline tax. And, I eliminated taxes charged on meals for our senior citizens at retirement homes.
Without gimmicks, I solved a $1.3 billion operating budget shortfall in just my first year in office.
And, yes I paid back the massive debt owed our hospitals — without raising a single dollar in taxes.
But there is more to do.
We must lower electricity costs for senior citizens, families and for those who want to bring new companies and more jobs to Maine. We must continue budget and welfare reform.
So, despite the personal attacks that come with the job, I won’t give up on Maine.
I won’t give up on our working Mainers who need a fair shake.
I won’t give up on our kids.
If it is to be, it’s up to you and me to keep working for the people of Maine.
Nous ne donnons pas de!
So today, I’m announcing I’m running for governor of Maine.
Barclaycards, Irving Forest Products, Ameridial, Eimskip, Tempus Jets, Maine Wood Products — world-class companies have announced they are creating new jobs in Maine.
In August of this year alone, 400 jobs have been created in Maine. We have changed the attitude of state government from “How they can create more red tape and bureaucracy?” to how we can cut red tape and spur on our economy. Just like our small businesses, Maine is open for business.
And, we can do more. For Maine to become even more competitive we must focus on lowering our electricity costs. It is not enough to be competitive in New England. We must compete with states across the country and in the global economy.
So I will continue my work, day in and day out, to lower electricity rates, to create more jobs and allow our senior citizens to have a lower light bill.
Maine government is now all about helping small businesses create jobs, not preventing them. We are also in the business of making sure Maine people get a dollar in value from their state government from every dollar spent.
I am proud to report that my team and our administration added an extra $104 million in transportation funding for our roads and bridges without borrowing a single dollar in just my first few years in office. That’s getting more bang for your buck.
You can’t pay a pension with an I.O.U., and you can’t force Maine people to pay a huge future tax increase to fund a pension system that was broke because politicians ignored the problem. So in just my first year in office we reduced the deficit in the state’s pension system by over 40 percent. That’s taking a business approach to government.
Folks, that’s actions not words.
We are controlling the growth of government, we are improving the business climate and we are making Maine more competitive.
We have lowered taxes — 70,000 low-income Mainers no longer pay income tax. We saved farms and family businesses by increasing the death-tax exemption from $1 million to $2 million.
We know that Maine has not prospered in the past. Bigger government, more welfare and higher taxes have not helped Mainers succeed. They have not helped Maine families pay the bills or put their kids through college.
That’s why we have reformed welfare to crack down on fraud, protect taxpayers and make sure welfare is there for those who really need it.
I understand what it is like to need help. Maine has been good to me. I was able to attend good schools and I was able to find good jobs that provided freedom and opportunity for me and my family.
For the past three years, I have been working every day to make sure all Mainers have the same opportunities I had. Maine has now joined the vast majority of the rest of the nation in offering charter schools. Hundreds of Maine families now have additional options for their children.
Imagine that — putting parents in charge of their own kid’s education.
So that our kids and families can have a great environment in which to thrive, I am proud to say I am the governor, this governor standing before you today, who issued the largest penalty in twenty years against a polluter — for an oil spill.
When there is a crime or a violation of law, I enforce it.
Our economy and our environment don’t have to compete. We just need to treat each as important.
I am so proud of my wife, Ann, who is standing with me today. [She is] the greatest first lady in Maine history.
Ann and I have made our veterans a priority, not in words but in deeds. Ann has helped highlight Wreaths Across America to recognize those who served. She has hosted military families regularly at the Blaine House and she has traveled all over this state from top to bottom to recognize our veterans.
I helped waive driver’s license fees for those currently in or recently discharged from our armed forces, I helped fix tuition problems for children of veterans, and I made sure our military spouses received credit for any military provided training when applying for work.
I have made the tough decisions. I have challenged the status quo, and I have fought every day to make your lives better. It has not been easy. But I won’t give up. I will never give up. I will keep fighting to make Maine a better place to live and do business for you and your family.
Some say I should act more like a typical politician, but that’s not who I am. I am not a man of words. I am a man of action. When I see a problem that needs to be solved, I take action.
So if you believe in actions not just words I am asking for you to stand with me.
If you believe that we must put people before politics, I am asking you to stand with me.
If you believe that our kids and Maine’s future prosperity are too important to leave to Washington trained politicians, I am asking for you to stand with me.
Let’s keep working for Maine.
Thank you. God bless Maine and God bless America.