Maine Gov. LePage Asks For ‘Shared Sacrifice,’ But Is Exempt From His Own Pension Changes

Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME)

Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) has called for “shared sacrifice” when it comes to balancing his state’s budget. “If you want prosperity, you have got to make sacrifices,” LePage said. However, as Zaid Jilani pointed out, LePage’s proposed budget asks the middle-class and public employees to bear the brunt of filling the state’s budget gap, while cutting taxes for the state’s wealthiest residents.

As part of his budget, LePage proposed raising the retirement age for public employees and freezing their cost-of-living adjustments. He also increased the amount that public employees are required to pay into their pension fund from 7.65 percent to 9.65 percent, which constitutes a cut in take-home pay for these employees. However, as Mike Tipping at the Kennebec Journal reported, the change doesn’t apply to LePage’s own compensation:

One public employee currently paying 7.65 percent, however, won’t see an increase.

The governor has exempted himselfIf LePage faced the same increase as state employees, it would cost him $5,880 over his term.

LePage, upon leaving office, will be eligible for a $26,000 annual pension. A Maine teacher has to work for 25 years to receive the same benefit. Adding insult to injury, the money raised from increased employee contributions won’t even go towards immediately shoring up the state’s pension system, but “will instead pay for other budget priorities, including $203 million in tax cuts.”

The increased attention on LePage’s treatment of his own compensation led state finance commission Sawin Millet to say, “I won’t speak for where [LePage] would be on it, but I suspect that he’s not aloof from, or opposed to, considering that idea for himself.” “I intend to have that conversation, given the stories that have occurred over the weekend,” Millet added. As the Lewiston Sun Journal reported, “previous governors have reportedly sought separate statutory changes to their compensation to match their budget messaging.”

(HT: Dave Dayen)

Cross-posted at The Wonk Room.