Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gubernatorial scorecard: End of the innocence

Published in the Portland Phoenix

As the legislative session ends, the amount and nature of Governor Paul LePage's political influence has become clearer. He is no longer the bombastic blowhard he once was, but neither is he ceding control of major policy initiatives to House and Senate leaders — though it is easy to see why people might think that. Herewith, our sixth Gubernatorial Scorecard, in which we score LePage on political savvy, and on whether what he's trying to do is good policy. Note the running total.
ENDING REGULATION | LePage has trumpeted the passage of LD 1, designed to reduce the state bureaucracy. Republicans have claimed victory, while Democrats are happy they were able to limit the damage the bill might have done. Whether it changes anything in the understaffed, confused state-office hallways remains to be seen.
POLITICS • He led an aggressive charge that moved the compromise line significantly in his favor | 8/10
POLICY • Most of the stuff LD 1 fixed should have been fixed long ago | 8/10
ENDING DEBATE | The governor has vetoed several bills that received overwhelming support in the State House, most notably one that would have limited health-insurance premium costs. Perhaps wary of provoking him, or perhaps persuaded by back-room politics, GOP legislators have switched their own votes and sustained his vetoes.
POLITICS • Requiring his followers to flip-flop, and getting them to agree? | 9/10
POLICY • For a guy who wants to lower health-care costs, he's sure pandering to the problem: insurance companies | 2/10
ENDING VOTER RIGHTS | Proudly declaring that no longer will the non-problem of voter fraud (and the non-problem of overworked municipal clerks) be allowed in Maine, LePage trumpeted his signing of a bill dramatically limiting voter rights, including same-day registration. A people's veto campaign is already under way, and looks to be one of the bigger public battles the governor will have to fight.
POLITICS • Rammed through a divisive bill that will benefit his party significantly | 6/10
POLICY • Though the Founders wanted to limit the franchise, we now know fewer voters is bad for democracy | 1/10
ENDING TAXATION | LePage has also announced his pride in signing a budget providing "the largest tax cut in Maine history." Never mind that nearly all of that cut goes to rich people, nor that he backed down on a March threat to veto anything other than his exact budget as proposed. (This one's more than a little different.)
POLITICS • Got the poor to go against their self-interest yet again | 9/10
POLICY • Next stop: the biggest spending cut in Maine history. Back to dirt roads and one-room schools we go! | 1/10
ENDING CONSISTENCY | Despite promises to let the private sector alone, the governor signed a bill that allowed the state to purchase a landfill in East Millinocket, in hopes of landing a private deal that proponents say could save as many as 450 mill jobs. A similar corporate-bailout deal in Old Town in 2004 never fulfilled its job-preservation promise, and landed the state with a massive cleanup problem.
POLITICS • Gets to say he tried to preserve jobs | 8/10
POLICY • How much more will Mainers spend to preserve jobs that are leaving anyway? | 1/10
This month's total | Politics 40/50 | Policy 13/50 | Last month: Politics 36/50 | Policy 15/50 | Overall: Politics 188/250 | Policy 119/250