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Progressive Backlash Begins

Last week, Governor Paul LePage went out of his way to identify himself with besieged Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. He told Politico "[...]quite frankly, once they start reading our budget they're going to leave Wisconsin and come to Maine because we're going after right to work."

Today at the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, I discuss LePage's comments, the situation in Wisconsin and the beginnings of Maine's own progressive backlash. Despite the title of the piece, it isn't just about teachers' pensions vs. tax cuts for millionaires. I believe the broad opposition to LePage's agenda will likely grow as LePage and his allies continue to push a a series of ideologically-based bills aimed at undercutting his political opponents and rewarding his corporate and conservative friends.

I also talk a bit about the lack of a response from the Tea Party, which seems to have quickly withered after their victories last year. This isn't just true in Maine. As Charles Blow writes in the New York Times this week, it's the same all over the country. His thesis: "The Tea Party is synonymous with anger. Anger defined it. Anger fueled it. Anger marred it. Anger became its face and its heart. But anger is too exhausting an emotion to sustain."

I also mention an event on Thursday at the capitol hosted by the Maine People's Alliance. It's not a protest or a rally, but a chance for progressives to educate themselves and lobby their legislators on a wide range of important issues. More information and a form to RSVP can be found here.

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Public Workers Will Fight LePage's Budget

Public sector employees and teachers are mobilizing their brothers and sisters, friends, neighbors and families. They are joining with fellow Mainers from Kittery to Fort Kent. They are not going to sit idly by and watch a lifetime of work go up in smoke with the stroke of a pen.

They are asking their State Senators and Representatives to oppose Governor LePage’s proposed two-year state budget, which would weaken the economic, health and retirement security of tens of thousands of Maine workers and retired workers. It would substantially diminish the employment benefits necessary to attract and retain Maine’s next generation of workers.

The conversations that are happening between public workers and teachers and legislators are respectful, informed discussions about how Maine workers and retired workers deserve to be treated. They are discussions about how public services are best delivered with the highest level of accountability in Maine. It’s so important that our State Senators and State Representatives hear that all Maine workers deserve to be treated fairly and with respect, and that the State of Maine has a special obligation to keep its promises to retired workers. Read more »

MSEA: Open Government Website "Despicable"

The Maine State Employee's Association has weighed in on MHPC's new website, calling it "underhanded" and "despicable".

I'm trying to figure out the benefits to be gained from this denunciation. The state isn't likely to change its freedom of access laws and this rhetoric just raises the profile of the website. My guess is the MSEA wants to appear to its membership as if it is standing up for them and their privacy.

I'll admit I'm a little biased on the issue. My salary and benefits for the past two years have been publicly available, printed in the local paper and debated in public meetings. I don't see what the big deal is.

Two last points: as a commenter noted in the last post, despite standing as champions of transparency, MPHC is reluctant to reveal their own expenditures and funding sources. Second, what kind of tracking software are they using that was slowing down their site so much that they could only record "several thousand" hits? That's just weird.