AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage told attendees of the 73rd annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show on Tuesday that 12-year-olds should be allowed to work in Maine.

LePage said Maine is not using one of its most valuable resources – its youth.

“We don’t allow children to work until they’re 16, but two years later, when they’re 18, they can go to war and fight for us,” LePage said. “That’s causing damage to our economy. I started working far earlier than that, and it didn’t hurt me at all. There is nothing wrong with being a paperboy at 12 years old, or at a store sorting bottles at 12 years old.”

LePage has said previously he started working when he was 11. Maine law requires students who want to work before they reach the age of 16 to get a work permit from their school superintendent and meet other requirements.

LePage also told show attendees he believes Maine can strike a better balance between conserving its natural resources and developing its economy and that doing so would bring prosperity.

“You’re the folks we want to bring prosperity to,” he told several hundred people at a luncheon at the show, held at the Augusta Civic Center. “If the revenues go up, I can go golfing. If not, I’m going to have to continue working 80 hours a week.” 

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]