A gradually improving economy has eased some of the pressure for steep spending cuts. Many state lawmakers face re-election this year, and in many states they are showing little appetite to face the kind of uproar that greeted efforts to curb collective bargaining rights in states like Ohio and Wisconsin last year. And with a presidential campaign unfolding, some Republicans worry that overreaching at the local level, particularly in swing states, would make it harder for them to win in November.
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And there was a different atmosphere on display last week in Maine. Its governor, Paul R. LePage, a Republican with Tea Party support, ruffled feathers last year by sparring with the N.A.A.C.P. over his decision to skip an event on Martin Luther King’s Birthday, ordering the removal of a mural at the state’s Department of Labor that he complained was too pro-labor and cutting taxes while calling for cuts in social programs for the poor.
While Mr. LePage used his speech last week to renew his calls to cut welfare spending, he did reach out to Democrats near the end. Noting that he had been a victim of domestic violence as a child, Mr. LePage made an emotional appeal to strengthen the state’s domestic violence laws, and he thanked the Democratic minority leader in the state’s House of Representatives, Emily Ann Cain, by name for offering to sponsor one of the bills.