Press Releases

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.

Maine CD2 candidate Henry Bear: Tax bill opposition sounds Green to me

HOULTON, ME-- Maine Green Independent candidate for the 2nd Congressional District Henry Bear noted today his opposition to the current tax reform plan being reconciled in Washington between recently passed House and Senate bills.

In particular, Bear noted the bills, supported by Bruce Poliquin, the current 2nd District congressman and Sen. Susan Collins, are widely unpopular in Maine. They do not represent the interests of common Mainers, he said, and run contrary to the future health and well-being of Maine citizens by raising taxes on those making less than $75,000.

Maine's median household income is $48,500. 

Bear said opposition to the tax reform sounds like a collective pining for Green values. For example:

  • Greens believe in grassroots democracy: The Senate bill was voted on without a draft being publicly available, without time for representatives to read its 400 pages. The House plan similarly includes many lobbyist-written amendments that have had virtually no public hearings.
  • Greens believe in personal and global responsibility: By adding a structural deficit increase of $1 trillion, these plans are not responsible economics. They shift the burden of today's economy onto our children and grandchildren, making us beholden to foreign debt holders, and increasing global anxiety. The economic wish-casting — saying economic growth will mitigate he structural deficit is irresponsible.
  • Greens believe in future focus and sustainability: The Greens are fundamentally fiscally conservative by nature. The tax plans are not conservative pay-as-you-go economics. We cannot sustainably plan for the future when we are financing today's growth with tomorrow's money. This clearly threatens vital social safety nets like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The bills are the equivalent of paying a mortgage with a credit card, something people often have to do today with stagnant wages and economic growth running to the top of the food chain. 

While Bruce Poliquin votes to cut his and his wife's taxes, the raising of the threshold for the estate tax insures that hard-working people of Maine not lucky enough to be born into wealthy families will not reap benefits from this so-called tax reform.

No one wants to pay taxes, said Bear, and he agrees in principle that we should be reducing the tax burden on the working class, but only “provided these tax cuts do not increase economic inequality, negatively impact essential public services including healthcare, public education, and infrastructure, and do not reward fossil fuel activities that contribute to carbon emissions and dangerous and destructive global warming.”

Voters tired of millionaires in Congress are encouraged to take a serious look at Bear for the 2nd District. Bear said he will use the position to return economic fairness to the country and Maine.

Maine House Rep. Henry Bear registers Green, announces CD2 candidacy


Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017

Maine House Rep. Henry Bear registers Green, announces CD2 candidacy

On Monday, Henry John Bear, Tribal Member Representing the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in the Maine House of Representatives, officially registered as a member of the Maine Green Independent Party. The move comes in anticipation of his Friday announcement as a Green candidate for U.S. House Representative to Maine’s Second Congressional District, challenging incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine.

Bear will announce his candidacy with an event at 2 p.m., Friday, at the Aroostook Treaty Education Center, 41 Elm St., in Houlton.

 “I’m different,” said Bear, “and that’s why I have a reasonable chance of succeeding in this campaign. I represent change. I’m capable, fearless when necessary, and the first tribal member with a law degree to run for U.S. Congress in Maine. Due to my life experience with the U.S. Coast Guard as a rescue coordinator, followed by extensive legal, small business and legislative experience, I am motivated to not shy away from conflict. Instead, I run toward it seeking to know who's in trouble and what the threat is, and then take timely action to help. That's my nature."

In registering as a Maine Green Independent, Bear joins Ralph Chapman, G-Brooksville, as the second legislator in Maine serving in the Maine House of Representatives. Maine now has the two highest elected Greens in the United States.

Bear is a distinguished House member, in his third term representing the Houlton Band of Maliseets. He has been roundly praised for his work on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, helping to move through a bill to provide tuition assistance for veterans, for example, and earning the American Legion’s Legislator of the Year Award in 2016. A 15-year veteran of the Coast Guard, Bear works as a designer on the guided missile destroyer program's naval weapons electrical systems at General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works.

Now he looks toward serving the tribes and all people of Maine's second congressional district in a federal role, prioritizing issues on the environment, civil rights, strength through non-violent and humanitarian military sophistication, and economic equity.

Bear points to incumbent Poliquin’s lack of support for Medicaid expansion, which recently passed overwhelmingly at the ballot box, as a clear sign the people of the Second District need representation that more closely aligns with their interests.

In joining the MGIP, Bear credits Green Presidential Candidate Jill Stein and Chapman, his seatmate in the House, for articulating positions that aligned with his own and drew his attention to the rising interest in the Maine Green Independents.

“I have found that our issues are very similar,” said Bear, “especially on the issues of the environment and civil rights and economic equity. I believe in health care for everyone who can’t afford it and I believe in ensuring that one person's hard day’s work results in a living wage, enough for a house and a car payment, and food for her family.”

While Bear will announce his candidacy Friday in the Aroostook County watershed traditional to the Maliseet Tribe, he is also the son of a French Canadian-American mother, with parents married in the Catholic Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, was born in Lewiston at St. Mary's, lived in four excellent Auburn foster homes, and graduated from Edward Little High School, then the University of Maine at Presque Isle, before earning his law degree in nearby New Brunswick.

“You could say I’m a true son of the Second District,” Bear said, “born, educated, and life-long resident. I have skills to put differences aside and use democratic solutions to achieve a truly moral economy and push back against powerful bullying in all forms. We have the technology to communicate with each other, anywhere, instantly. I will use it to implement policy agreements that move us toward a healthy and prosperous community, a progressive and transparent government, and safer and more inclusive world community.”



Second state representative enrolls Green Independent


Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017

Second state representative enrolls Green Independent

HOULTON -- State Rep. Henry John Bear (G--Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians) became the second member of the State Legislature to enroll Green Independent this year. Bear joins State Rep. Ralph Chapman (G--Brooksville), increasing the Green Independent Party's legislative caucus to two. Chapman joined the party in September.

"I have had the honor of serving in Maine’s House of Representatives with Representative Henry Bear for the past half-dozen years," Chapman said. "His approach toward legislative matters and other legislators is thoughtful, well-informed, and very respectful. His wisdom and gentle leadership on issues, especially of civil rights and our environment, will contribute greatly to Maine’s Green Independent Party which he has joined. I am thrilled to be able to work further with Henry as a fellow Green Independent party member and legislator."

“I have found that our issues are very similar,” said Bear on why he joined the party, “especially on the issues of the environment and civil rights and sustainable economic development and income equity. I believe in health care for everyone who can’t afford it and I believe in ensuring that one person's hard day’s work results in a living wage, enough for a house and a car payment, and food for her family.”

Party Co-Chairs Jon Olsen and Riva O'Rourke immediately welcomed Bear to the party.

"We Greens have long understood that our values of ecological wisdom, stewardship, and social justice are congruent with those of the traditions of First Peoples in this land," said Olsen. "We are delighted that a man from that tradition of the caliber of Henry John Bear has chosen to align with us in the Maine Green Independent Party."

"I am very, very pleased to welcome State Rep. Henry John Bear of the Houlton Band of Maliseets to the Maine Green Independent Party," O'Rourke said. "It thrills me to know that our party has achieved the endorsement of such an amazing and dedicated man." 

The Maine Green Independent Party now hosts the two highest-ranking Green elected officeholders in the nation.

Greens open primaries to unenrolled voters


Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017

Greens open primaries to unenrolled voters

The Maine Green Independent Party voted at its Fall Assembly this month to allow unenrolled voters – commonly referred to as “Independents” – to participate in the party's primary election in 2018.

"The nearly 40 percent of unenrolled Maine voters speaks volumes about the dissatisfaction they have with the corporate parties," said Jon Olsen, one of the party's two co-chairs. "We offer an alternative by allowing them into our primary, agreeing with them that the major parties represent the interests of corporations instead of citizens. We hope they will see the Maine Green Independent Party as 'their' party."

The Democratic and Republican parties close their parties to only voters who are enrolled in their parties. However, Maine statutes allow political parties to broaden eligibility for participation in their primaries. The Maine Green Independent Party was the first political party in Maine to allow unenrolled voters to participate in the primary, when it made the same decision in 2016.

Party officials argue that closed primaries lead to candidates selected by small factions and that candidates represent issues outside mainstream public discourse. By opening its primary, the Maine Green Independent Party encourages participation in the political process and increases awareness of its candidates' positions and backgrounds.

The party, which has nearly 50,000 enrolled members, has previously taken other measures to allow participation in the political process to more than just enrolled party members. Maine statutes specify that delegates to a party convention “must be qualified to vote in the party's primary election unless otherwise permitted by party rules.” Several years ago, the party changed its rules to allow Maine immigrants and underage residents to “participate in all aspects of the party … except where prohibited by statute.”

According to the party's bylaws, “Lack of citizenship or an inability to register as a voter, whether due to age or other reasons, cannot preclude any interested person from joining the party.”

In fact, the party's youngest member, 12-year-old Americah O'Rourke, attended the Fall Assembly, which also served as a special convention to decide the eligibility requirements for primary election participation. Although Americah cannot legally participate in the primary election, or in a municipal caucus, she did take part in the vote to open the party's primary election to unenrolled voters - a unanimous decision at the convention.

"I thought it was good that our party doesn't mind how old you are to be able to vote," said Americah. "It made me feel proud, because now unenrolled people can vote in the Green Party in Maine."

Riva O'Rourke, co-chair of the party who is also Americah's mother, said, "The Maine Green Independent Party is a growing option for voters disaffected with today's political gamesmanship and rhetoric. With open primaries in 2018, the party hopes more Mainers investigate the ideas and values of its candidates and to help elect candidates that represent the interests of the independent-thinking and forward-looking people of Maine."