A controversial bill to extend a $60 M tax giveaway to General Dynamics’s Bath Iron Works shipyard is in trouble in the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation of the Maine Legislature according to an article in “The Free Press” in Rockland.
The newspaper reported that the Legislature’s Taxation Committee voted last Tuesday 9 – 2 to reduce the controversial tax break to BIW to $45 M. The bill, LD 1781, would provide the company with $3M in tax incentives per year over the next 15 years rather than the originally requested $60 M over 20 years.
Furthermore, “The Free Press” reports that a spokesman for the local S6 of the machinists’ union at BIW said its members were split (50% – 50%) on LD 1781 so it did not take a position on the measure. The bill will now be taken up by the full legislature.
Letters from opponents have continued pouring in to Maine newspapers, with over 100 published in 25 different papers as of yesterday.
Hunger striker Bruce Gagnon, Bath, reports that he has been “spending a lot of time at BIW talking with workers. There are many workers who understand GD’s fiscal posture and oppose this fat welfare subsidy. GD/BIW doesn’t need $45 M anymore than they needed $60 M from cash strapped Maine. It’s time to kill this corporate welfare bill.” Gagnon is in the 29th day of fasting and will continue until a vote is taken on L.D. 1781.
General Dynamics Corporation is the 5th largest weapons contractor in the world and owner of BIW. Although jobs are often cited as the rationale for tax giveaways such as this one, opponents point out that GD has used past Maine subsidies — $200 M since 1997 — to mechanize the operation which has led to job loss. GD from 2009 – 2017 has bought back $14.4 B of their own stock driving market value and executive compensation higher. Last year GD’s CEO made $21 M. Obscene.
Mark Ronan of Solon testified at the public hearing for LD 1781 in opposition. He attended a Taxation Committee on the bill. “I cannot stand by and watch Maine lawmakers waste money that could be spent on education, health care and housing for the 43,000 children in Maine living in poverty today,” Ronan explained.
The figure derives from the KIDS COUNT analysis the US Census date which also reveals that of the 43,000, there are 20,000 living in deep poverty i.e. their families have half or less the income established as the poverty line by the federal government.
On February 28, 2018, the conservative, pro-business “Portland Press Herald” reported that “Gagnon is part of a very small but vocal group of peace activists critical of BIW’s parent company, the defense contracting giant General Dynamics.” It’s amazing what a very small but vocal group of peace activists can do to persuade a Committee of the Maine legislature to do the right thing or move closer to the right thing. General Dynamics purchased BIW in 1995.
Please contact your Maine State Legislator to let him/her know your position on the subject.
The above press release came from Lisa Savage, of the Campaign to Oppose General Dynamics Corporate Welfare.
(note: Please read “Ship of Fools, Tax Break for BIW, WW111 for Us,” by Chris Busby, dated February 6, 2018 in “The Bollard.”