WASHINGTON — Gov. Paul LePage skipped a National Governors Association meeting with President Obama at the White House this morning so he could get back to state business, his spokeswoman said.

The Maine Republican was not alone in missing the session with Obama, the culminating event for the three-day NGA winter meeting.

About a dozen other of the association’s 55 member governors, including U.S. territories and commonwealths, also were absent, according to the White House.

LePage attended the White House work session last year.

This year, LePage decided before the meeting to take a morning flight back to Portland “because the goal was to be back before the end of the business day,” said Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s spokeswoman.

“We were gone Friday through Monday afternoon,” Bennett said in a phone interview today. “That is a lot of time to be out.”

The NGA winter meeting, which began Saturday morning, ended after the nation’s governors met with Obama to talk about education, the economy and other issues.

LePage and his wife, Ann, did attend Sunday night’s dinner at the White House for governors hosted by Obama. But the Monday morning session is when the governors and the president discuss policy matters.

In public remarks before the meeting was closed for a private question and answer session between the governors and Obama, the president urged the nation’s governors to invest more state money and resources on education.

Bennett said that LePage has boosted education funding in his budget.

LePage said on Saturday that he attended the NGA meeting to learn from other governors.

“I just want to listen to the other governors, see if they are all facing the same issues, and see how other governors are attacking some of the issues,” LePage said Saturday.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: [email protected] Twitter: Twitter.com/MaineTodayDC

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