LePage Struggles to Fill Maine Cabinet Due to Salary Concerns

By: - December 17, 2010 12:00 am

Maine Governor-elect Paul LePage says his top picks for cabinet positions are turning him down because of the pay cuts they’d have to accept in leaving their private sector jobs. In particular, LePage said he’s lost out on his first choices for the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education because of salary concerns, the Bangor Daily News reports . Most cabinet officials in Maine make between ,190 and ,990 annually. The governor’s salary, ,000 a year, long has been one of the lowest in the country. “I will emphatically say it is adversely affecting our ability to get the best people,” LePage said.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell is promising a fight with the federal government over Medicaid funding, the Juneau Empire reports . Fresh off winning election for a full term, Parnell has introduced a budget that lacks the money needed for Alaska to meet its Medicaid obligations. He says he’ll work with other governors to win either increases in the amount that the federal government pays or more flexibility for states under the program. “They made this mess, and I’m challenging them to clean it up,” Parnell said. To aid states during the recession, Congress has expanded the federal share of Medicaid, but those benefits will expire in the new fiscal year. 

While they say that the dramatic puncturing of the Metrodome stadium roof last week isn’t weighing heavily on their decision, lawmakers are looking again at paying for a new home for the Minnesota Vikings. Governor-elect Mark Dayton is open to the idea and a bipartisan team of legislators is looking to introduce a funding bill, Forum Communications reports . In past years, legislators have balked at funding the stadium, as they’ve struggled to find money for core government services. But heavy snow burst several holes in the Metrodome’s fabric roof, which forced the Vikings to play last week’s home game in Detroit and will force them to play this Monday’s game at the University of Minnesota’s stadium. The Vikings have pledged not to play in the Metrodome-which opened in 1982-beyond the 2011 season, which has led to speculation that the team could be moving if it doesn’t get a new facility, most likely to Los Angeles.

Colorado is going to give bipartisan redistricting a try, the Pueblo Chieftain reports . In the elections, Republicans took control of the Colorado House of Representatives, but Democrats retained the Senate. The divided control set up the possibility that the legislature would stalemate on the issue and the Colorado Supreme Court would have to step in, something that’s happened in the past in Colorado. But legislative leaders are trying to avoid that outcome by appointing a joint House-Senate committee with five Democrats and five Republicans to take up the matter. The committee members will travel around the state soliciting input, but it’s not clear yet whether they’ll recommend specific legislative and congressional maps to the full legislature or whether they’ll just offer more general guidelines.

Kansas Governor-elect Sam Brownback has his repealer, the Associated Press reports . One of the more novel ideas out of the fall campaign was Brownback’s push to create an “Office of the Repealer” to identify unnecessary regulations that could be eliminated. He’s picking Dennis Taylor to head that office. Taylor, who also will lead Kansas’ Department of Administration, has held a variety of jobs in local, state and federal government, including as chief of staff to former Kansas governor Mike Hayden. 

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Josh Goodman

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and place-based economic development programs as part of Pew’s state fiscal health project. Goodman has served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives.