Greens say tax break must not continue

Friday, Dec. 14, 2017
Greens say BIW tax break must not continue
AUGUSTA -- The Maine Green Independent Party opposes a proposed tax break for Bath Iron Works, the shipbuilding facility in Bath owned by General Dynamics.
The Legislative Council agreed last month to allow LR 2789, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer DeChant, D-Bath, to be considered in the next legislative session. It would extend Maine's Shipbuilding Facility Credit, which has delivered BIW a $3.5 million tax break annually since the 1990s.
Greens, including gubernatorial candidate Betsy Marsano, say this must not happen “LR 2789 is just another mechanism to socialize investment while privatizing profits," said Marsano. "Recent economic data point to small businesses, entrepreneurs and small farms as our major growth markets. We need to develop economic policies that foster and promote long-term financial stability in communities all across the state, not subsidize multi-billion-dollar corporations.”
General Dynamics is one of the largest defense companies in the world, with annual revenue of $31.5 billion. In the past 10 years, the company has bought back more than $13 billion of its own stock. Its top executive, CEO Phebe Novakovic, made $21 million last year.
Last month, the Bath City Council voted to give the shipyard $3.7 million in tax increment financing revenue over a 25-year period.
Party Co-Chair Jon Olsen said, "Any further tax breaks should be conditioned on a written agreement that Bath Iron Works will in good faith transition away from war-making equipment and instead actively pursue such projects as hospital ships, rail systems, including modern narrow gauge engines, and cars that can use existing rights-of-way for both commuter and tourist use.
"We want to see the talented, capable workforce of 5,700 men and women at Bath Iron Works expand into alternative energy systems, including wind turbines, solar, and turbines that can be used to harness the immense daily power of Maine's 10-12 foot tidal shifts," Olsen added.
"We know from economic studies that such projects will generate steady, long-term work for the existing labor force, and allow even more workers to be employed," said Riva O'Rourke, co-chair of the party. "The time to abandon dependence on corporate welfare and a bloated military budget is now."
"The last thing this world needs is more destroyers," said Olsen. "What we need are 'creators' — machines that help our state, country and world become more humane, peaceful and sustaining of life.”
Last week, the U.S. Senate voted to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent, which would save General Dynamics as much as $6 billion a year in taxes.
Olsen and O'Rourke said Green Independent candidates next year will run on platforms opposing corporate welfare, a public policy trend which Democrats are largely complicit in passing.
"We ask other parties to follow this lead and implement a rational use of both materials and human resources," said O'Rourke.