Union Workers Face Off Against LePage Supporters 

Thursday was another day of debate in Augusta over the governor’s proposed budget. Unionized state workers and supporters of Governor LePage faced off at the state house.LePage supporters met early in the morning for an outdoor rally before the group headed straight to the third floor to talk to lawmakers. They were soon joined by unionized state workers and their supporters and the tension level began to rise.Union workers shouted “Recall LePage!!!” while LePage supporters shouted “Go LePage!!” back at them. The governor’s supporters say they noticed the groundswell of anti-LePage sentiment on Wednesday and wanted their voices to be heard. “They outnumbered the other side by quite a bit, but I also know a lot of people that wanted to be here and couldn’t get away from their jobs,” said Dena Worster wearing a LePage pin.State workers were there to speak out against the governor’s budget they say takes a huge bite out of their promised benefits. Curtis Doyle a guard at the Maine state prison in Warren says he feels betrayed. “It’s about commitment,” he said. “When I started at the prison almost 20 years ago, I made a commitment to the people of Maine and they made a commitment to me and they’ve yet to fulfill any of it. They’re always changing the rules halfway.”David Cutler also works for the state and says he doesn’t dislike Governor LePage, says the state’s fiscal issues are not his fault. He just wants them to honor their promise to him. “I’m not asking for a raise,” he says. “I’m asking for my retirement to be maintained and I’m asking for them not to cut my pay further than they have.”Merritt Webster of Cushing is a retired teacher who’s a LePage supporter collecting a pension. He says some workers are just plain greedy. “All they’re being asked for is a very small sacrifice to make the system viable,” he says. “To me it’s incomprehensible that they wouldn’t welcome that to make that pension system solvent.”Lawmakers took in all the information being thrown at them. “It’s quite a heated atmosphere but people have been very respectful and I’ve enjoyed talking to everybody on both sides of the issue,” Democratic Representative Andrew O’Brien of Lincolnville who stopped and chatted with folks on both side of this debate. At noon, hundreds of unionized workers gathered outside the state house. While inside, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee continued to hear more public testimony on the proposed budget that has sparked this heated debate. The committee is scheduled to consider teacher retirement contributions and eligibility on Friday.