STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Well, it is no secret how the governor of Maine is dealing with his state’s budget and economy. He just signed the biggest tax cuts in that state’s history, while cutting spending as well.
The Republican governor of Maine, Paul LePage, joins me new.
Governor, welcome to the program. Good to have you with us.
GOV. PAUL LEPAGE,R-MAINE: Well, it’s a pleasure to be here.
VARNEY: So, let me get this right. You cut taxes on the rich. You cut welfare. You roll back state worker pensions, and you got Democrats to support it. Perhaps you should go and work in D.C., sir.
LEPAGE: Well, thank you. Well, we cut taxes on the rich and the poor. In fact, 70,000 families will no longer be paying income tax in May because they live below the poverty level. And so what we did is, we had a small decrease from the marginal -- the highest marginal rate, but we lowered -- we completely eliminated the low rates.
VARNEY: Governor, forgive me for saying it, but you sound like a Western state Republican, not like a Republican or any other politician from New England.
VARNEY: You couldn’t exist in Vermont, now, could you?
VARNEY: New Hampshire, you wouldn’t do too well, I don’t think. And Massachusetts is totally out of the question. What is it about Maine that produces a man like you, who does this kind of thing and balances the budget?
LEPAGE: Well, I think, basically, I’m a businessman who is now serving his state as a governor. And I’ve not been a lifetime politician.
And I think that was just -- it was a matter of timing. The people of Maine were tired of being in debt and tired of being overtaxed. And they looked for someone that would bring some common sense to the statehouse.
VARNEY: You do know that your critics are saying you, sir, are harsh, that you are balancing the budget on the backs of the poor that you are going after the most vulnerable. And your response?
LEPAGE: And my response is 70,000 people in the state of Maine that paid income tax in 2011 will not be paying income tax in 2012.
It’s just the opposite of what they are saying. I am reducing the taxes on the most vulnerable -- most vulnerable people in the state. And the other thing that we’re going to be doing in January is we’reg going to continue the process. I don’t think what we did in 2011 is the beginning of what it is going to look like in four years.
VARNEY: What do you have in store? What do you have in mind? What are you going to start doing next year?
LEPAGE: Well, you know, Maine, one of things we are going to be looking at -- and I will just give you a little hint -- Maine is the oldest state in the nation by population age. And they’re the most vulnerable. So it’s time we take care of our seniors.
What about President Obama and national issues? Would you have any advice for our president?
LEPAGE: Yes. I would tell him to go to the states and listen to the states. The whole foundation of our country was based on having the states as laboratories.
Go to the states, see what’s working, see what’s not, and implement what is working. Do not try to reinvent the wheel.
VARNEY: Last question: Do you have any idea what your popularity ratings are?
LEPAGE: No. And I’m not in it for popularity rating. I got elected governor to fix a problem. And I want to fix my problem. And we’ll let the electorate decide where I stand in four years.
VARNEY: Do you remember I interviewed you shortly after your election?
LEPAGE: That’s correct.
VARNEY: Do you remember that?
LEPAGE: Yes, I absolutely do.
VARNEY: I think most of New England was in a state of shock that Paul LePage was now the governor of Maine.
(LAUGHTER) VARNEY: Well, congratulations, sir. It’s a pleasure to see you again. And thanks for joining us on "Your World." Thank you, sir.
LEPAGE: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure.
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