- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Here are some highlights of Gov. Paul LePage’s third State of the State address:

JOB GROWTH:

- LePage said Maine’s unemployment rate has fallen to 6.2 percent, the lowest since 2008. He says the state has added 13,000 new private-sector jobs since he took office in 2011.

WELFARE:

- LePage reiterated his opposition to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law, saying expanding welfare “does not break the cycle of generational poverty. It only breaks the budget.”

-He also laid out proposals to prohibit some welfare benefits from being used for alcohol, tobacco and gambling and allowing Electronic Benefit Transfer Cards to only be used in the state.

ECONOMY:

- LePage proposed “Open for Business Zones” where he said tax incentives and reduced energy costs would spur investment and job creation. He said workers in the zones wouldn’t have to pay union fees or dues.

ENERGY:

-Long concerned about Maine’s high energy costs, LePage said he wants to pipe in natural gas from Pennsylvania and find a way to tap into abundant electricity from hydro power and a nuclear plant north of the border in Canada.

TAXES:

-LePage proposed a statewide referendum asking Mainers if they want to lower taxes and state spending by at least $100 million. “Let’s ask the people that really matter,” he said. “Let’s ask hard-working Maine taxpayers.”

DRUGS:

-The audience was hushed when LePage talked about drug abuse, heroin deaths and addicts losing treatment because of cuts. Among his proposals: Hiring four new special drug prosecutors, more judges for drug courts and boosting funding for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

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