Democrats & Republicans Await LePage State of the State Address 

Education and paying back Maine’s hospital debt.That’s what lawmakers are expecting to hear tonight in Governor LePage’s State of the State Address.In excerpts released on Twitter, the governor says he’s not attacking public schools.He says he’s passionate about education and doesn’t want to see any child not given an opportunity to succeed.Democratic and Republican lawmakers spoke Tuesday night about what they expect to hear from the governor. “I think the governor has been clear all along that he’s looking at structural reform,” said House Minority Leader, Republican Ken Fredette. “Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, structural reform means really big changes and when you’re looking at big changes, people can get uneasy about those. But, quite frankly, I think we need to look at structural changes so Maine can be more competitive.”Democrats certainly are a bit uneasy about some of the governor’s proposals, but Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond says he’ll be paying close attention to LePage’s tone, as the governor will be speaking to a Democratic led House and Senate. “More importantly, I hope he strikes the right tone,” Goodall said. “Look, we have a lot of things we have to tackle on this state. We also have a lot of assets we can build off of, a lot of great opportunities. I’m hoping he strikes the right tone about working together and building off our strengths and, if he does that, I think there’s a lot of opportunity.”Governor LePage’s proposal to pay back $484 million worth of MaineCare debt owed by the state to Maine’s hospitals using money from the state’s liquor contract is also expected to be mentioned in the speech. The bill is now hot off the presses, having been printed Tuesday. “I think what we have to understand as Democrats and Republicans is we’re talking about a half a billion dollars going out into the Maine economy if we can pass that bill and get that done,” Fredette said. “In addition to that, the governor has also said he will release other bond moneys that he’s holding, which is somewhere around $50 million. So we in the legislature have an opportunity to push over a half a billion dollars out into the economy if we can come together on this.” Democrats are still looking over the bill, but say they have some serious questions about the proposal.