LePage: Maine Faces 10 Percent Unemployment if Education, Minimum Wage Questions Pass

Nov 4, 2016

Gov. Paul LePage says a tax department analysis shows the state is headed for a 10 percent unemployment rate if voters approve hikes in the minimum wage and in upper-income taxes next week.

LePage has spent much of his public time the past week campaigning against all of the measures on Maine's ballot next week. In an appearance at the Portland Rotary Club he focused on Question 4, to raise the state's minimum wage, and Question 2, a 3 percent surcharge on household income over $200,000, with proceeds intended to go to education.

Put those together with new federal requirements for overtime pay, LePage says, and the state faces a financial tsunami.

"If Question 2, Question 4, and the overtime rules planned for Dec. 1 go all into effect in 2017. In fact, the MRS [Maine Revenue Services] is telling me that we're looking at 10 percent unemployment next year. Ten percent unemployment," he says.

In later comments, LePage said if voters approve the income tax surcharge, he would consider proposing his own adjustments in the state's income and sales taxes to quote "avoid a recession." Officials at MRS did not respond to requests for comment.