Lawmakers react to governor's annual address

8:30 PM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Governor's speech was longer than expected and drew lots of reaction from Republicans and Democrats.

The governor wants school choice for every student, more charter schools and a report card on school quality. His education Commissioner Steve Bowen said tonight that public accountability is overdue.

But the governor also had tough words for school superintendents and the teachers union, a strong ally of Democrats. While Democratic leaders said they have nothing against charter schools, they weren't ready to embrace his plan.

"What Democrats said we want was, we want strong schools we want great teachers in the classroom and we want to put students first," said Sen. Justin Alfond, (D) Portland. "We don't believe this policy is ready for prime time and I think that was two years ago rejected by a republican legislature. So I don't know what's changed in two years to support this policy today."

Republican leaders not surprisingly gave strong support to the Governor's plan

"We have declining enrollment in our state over the last ten years from roughly 200,000 to 180,000 and we have rising costs," said Rep. Ken Fredette, (R) Newport. "We can't reconcile those numbers without it eating away at other parts of the budget.

Both parties talked about a "new tone" in the relationship between the governor and legislators. For the first time since they were elected three months ago, LePage sat down Monday with Democratic leaders. Both Republicans and Democrats said it was a good and fresh start.


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