The Maine Heritage Policy Center’s has revived its “Piglet Book” of alleged wasteful government spending, hitting such familiar themes as overly generous welfare programs and overpaid state employees.

But while the conservative think tank levels some criticism at spending by Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration, some of its harshest criticism is directed toward such popular LePage targets as Attorney General Janet Mills, the Maine Clean Elections program and the Legislature.

In the first edition of its Piglet Book since 2012, the Maine Heritage Policy Center says Maine has made progress but that “state spending is still far larger than it should be, or would be if only Augusta took our spending seriously.”

The group’s examples of “wasted tax dollars” or excessive spending in 2014 include:

• $50,724 on bottled water and $2,234,170 on food

• $43,643,210 on remedial training

• $200,000 to acquire the Frances Perkins homestead in Newcastle.

• $500,000 to study extending the Amtrak Downeaster rail service to Lewiston-Auburn.

• $1 million toward “government run health centers across the state”

• $1.8 million for Efficiency Maine Trust, a program to help homeowners and businesses finance energy conservation projects but that the Piglet report criticizes as having “little accountability or oversight.

• $30 million paid to a MaineCare transportation vendor that was plagued by delays and complaints of poor service.

The report also highlights the nearly $24 million spent on state employees’ overtime in 2014 – including $4.4 million at the Maine State Police alone – and that nearly 2,000 state employees earned $75,000 or more in 2014. Additionally, the budget for the governor’s office increased 71 percent between 2010 and 2014.

It’s no secret that the Maine Heritage Policy Center is a conservative organization and is regarded by many on the opposite side of the political spectrum as being an extension of the Maine Republican Party.

Regardless of whether that contention is fair or unfair, the center devoted the most space in its report to programs or policies unpopular with many Republicans – and programs and policies often targeted by LePage.

The Piglet Book cites the Fund for Healthy Maine, Efficiency Maine Trust and the Maine public campaign financing program as examples of wasteful spending. All three programs are frequent targets of LePage.

The report also devotes entire sections to the expenditures on the Frances Perkins homestead and the study on a potential Amtrak link to Lewiston. (Close followers of Maine’s political news may recall that LePage cited those two projects as examples of “pork” during his own press conference last year featuring a fake Christmas tree and plastic pigs.)

The center’s report also devotes considerable space to the issue of welfare spending, calling Maine’s welfare system “one of the most generous and oversized in the country.” The report talks about “widespread fraud” in welfare programs and discusses the LePage administration’s efforts to change the reimbursement formula for General Assistance and eliminate welfare benefits for asylum seekers.

Missing from the Maine Heritage Policy Report, however, is any mention of the LePage administration’s decision to hire The Alexander Group for $925,000 to review the state’s welfare programs. The Alexander Group’s work was later discredited after it was discovered that the report contained numerous passages that were lifted from other published reports with limited or no attribution.

Maine’s Attorney General also got her own section, entitled “Janet Mills’ Habit of Overspending.”

“During her tenure as Attorney General, Mills has twice refused to represent Maine in legal disputes, an unprecedented decision that forced taxpayers to foot the bill for about $2,000,000 in fees paid to private legal counsel,” the report reads. “Not only did Mills’ actions violate the long-standing tradition of her office, but the additional costs didn’t come out of her budget. The state instead had to draw money from other programs. Last year, Governor LePage was forced to ask the Legislature to allocate $1 million to a private legal defense fund for when Mills decided not to represent the state.”

Mills’ office offered this response to the center’s report:

“We advised the Administration not to bring certain cases; they ignored our advice and they lost after spending a lot of money on attorney’s fees,” wrote Mills’ spokesman, Tim Feeley.

Feeley also disputed the line that Mills’ “exceeded her personal services allocation by $255,000,” pointing out that the deficit was for district attorneys.

“The Maine Republican Party erroneously attacked the Attorney General for overspending in the District Attorney’s budget line and I’m not surprised to see their associates at the MHPC repeat the misstatements,” Feeley wrote.