AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Governor Paul LePage explained more Thursday about his decision to declare a civil emergency for state government to deal with the budget problems caused by the federal government shutdown. The Governor issued the order late Wednesday afternoon, with little explanation as to what it actually means.
The declaration was issued without even explaining it to legislative leaders...and that resulted in a lot of confusion about what actually happens during a civil emergency.
LePage met with top Democrats and Republicans this morning to give them a few more details. Basically he says the order gives the Governor more authority to layoff state workers, without having to go through some of the usual steps required by the union contract. It also allows him to have some other authority and potentially sidestep some state regulations.
After the meeting, LePage said, "We issued the declaration to give us flexibility to cover this crisis. Probably one hundred people are immediately affected by not having the federal funds to make their wages. So what we're doing is laying them off for three days and then bringing them back. But this here will give us the flexibility to get unemployment revenues in the quickest way possible."
Democratic Legislative leaders are being very critical of all this. The Speaker of the House says the Governor is using a hammer when it isn't needed...he says Democrats asked him to change the emergency declaration so it would be more specific and put an end date on it, but they say the Governor refused.