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Memo: LePage Wants to Slash Number of State Workers to Fund Tax Cut

Gov. Paul LePage has told his commissioners he wants to cut the number of state workers and reduce overall state spending below current levels to fund a significant income tax cut in next year’s budget package.

A memo that was sent to commissioners earlier this month and obtained by Maine Public Radio reveals that the governor has set three goals for the budget-writing process that is already underway.

First, he wants to cut the number of state employees to 9,500 from the current level of over 11,000. Not all of those jobs are filled, so it’s unclear how many state workers could be directly affected by the proposal.

Second, he wants overall state spending to be less than the current $6.7 billion two-year state budget. But, again, the memo gives no direction as to what spending areas should be scrutinized.

And finally, the governor makes clear that the purpose of all the cutting is to reduce the top income tax rate down to 5.75 percent from the current rate of just over 7 percent.

The proposals are by no means set in stone, because the governor can only propose a budget. For example, not a single budget proposed by LePage has been adopted without major changes by the Legislature, and that includes his first budget, when the Legislature was controlled by Republicans.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.