LEWISTON, Maine — When Massachusetts’ governor invited his New England counterparts to a meeting last month on the surge in opioid overdoses, the only no-show was Governor Paul LePage of Maine.
Governor Deval Patrick urged reporters after the meeting not to read anything into LePage’s absence. It’s just a scheduling problem, he said.
But LePage’s press secretary, Adrienne Bennett, had a different take: The governor felt staying in Maine to talk with veterans and release crime statistics was “a higher priority than a photo-op with other New England governors,” Bennett said.
To his critics, LePage’s decision to bypass the Waltham, Mass., meeting struck them as combative business as usual for a governor who, alone in New England, is emphasizing law enforcement over treatment as a response to the drug crisis.
While other governors have called for hefty increases in funding for treatment, LePage called for $2 million to hire 14 drug agents, four judges, and four prosecutors to target a drug trade he said is ravaging the state.
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