January 17, 2020
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Judge says LePage can’t withhold $3M in job training funds

Jake Bleiberg | BDN
Jake Bleiberg | BDN
File photo from September 2017 of Gov. Paul LePage delivering a speech in Falmouth.

A federal judge Wednesday denied a request by Gov. Paul LePage to withhold about $3 million in federal job training funds from one of Maine’s regional workforce boards while a lawsuit brought against his administration is appealed.

Earlier this month, Judge John Woodcock ordered LePage to release the $3 million to Coastal Counties Workforce Inc., a regional workforce board based in Brunswick. Coastal Counties filed suit against the governor and state Labor Commissioner John Butera in October because LePage has withheld about $8 million in federal job training funds that are intended to go to the three regional boards.

LePage appealed the ruling and asked Woodcock to allow the state to continue withholding the funds while the appeal plays out.

However, Woodcock denied that request Wednesday. In his decision, Woodcock writes that LePage has only a “modest likelihood” of winning an appeal. He also says that if LePage continues to refuse to release the $3 million to Coastal Counties, the workforce board will face “irreparable injury,” with a good chance that it will go out of business by June.

A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to request for comment.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.


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