Say no to corporate welfare

The people of Maine should not be forced to give their hard-earned money to benefit a corporation that is already extremely wealthy, and yet that is exactly what will happen if a bill, LD 1781, now in the Maine Legislature is passed.

The corporation is General Dynamics, one of the world’s largest so-called defense contractors and owner of Bath Iron Works, which produces destroyers for the Navy.

General Dynamics has already received, since 1997, more than $200 million in state and local tax breaks to subsidize modernization at the Bath shipyard, during which time employment there has been significantly cut.

General Dynamics is claiming that it needs these tax break giveaways in order to keep BIW competitive.

But BIW only has a single competitor, Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi. In 2017, BIW received more than $2 billion in contract awards, more than any other year since 2011. And with the Navy recently announcing its plan to have 10 more destroyers built for it in the next four years, BIW will not be lacking work to do in the future.

General Dynamics’ claim that BIW needs this money to remain competitive is false: It is simply a scheme to get Maine taxpayers to fork over more of their money.

Even if it were true, General Dynamics could easily invest that money in its own company. Its annual revenues are estimated at $31 billion, and in 2016, its CEO made $21 million. Maine’s politicians should just say no to this corporate welfare.

Russell Wray

Don’t mess with minimum wage

Recently, the Republican members of the Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee voted to support LD 1757, An Act to Protect Maine’s Economy by Slowing the Rate at Which the State’s Minimum Wage will Increase and Establish a Training and Youth Wage, that would, if passed, lower future scheduled increases in the state’s minimum wage from $1 to 50 cents, thereby capping the minimum wage at $11 instead of $12.

Apparently, Maine’s economy is in such danger from the projected minimum wage increase approved by the voters that this proposed legislation must be passed on an emergency basis in the next few weeks. It should be noted that LD 1757 is in direct contrast to the mandate of the 2016 citizen referendum, which raised the minimum from $7.50 to its current $10 per hour. There is no concrete evidence that that Maine’s economy is slowing down because of the raising of the minimum wage. In fact, the Maine economy is stronger now than it was when the minimum wage was $7.50.

The Republicans are hoping that they can rush LD 1757 through the Legislature before anyone can notice. Be sure to contact your elected officials in the next few days and let them know how you feel about this proposed legislation, because the Republicans will attempt to thwart the will of the people and enact this legislation without warning if given the opportunity in order to “save” the Maine economy from decline.

Val Philbrick

No more corporate welfare

As I recently kindled a fire, I came across a great story in the Sept. 18 edition of the BDN. Reporter Christopher Cousins quotes Tax Committee House Chairman Ryan Tipping, D-Orono: “Most of the members of the tax committee want to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent correctly.”

One way the Taxation Committee can make sure Maine’s meager wealth is spent correctly is by refusing to grant an additional $60 million in corporate welfare to mega-rich corporation General Dynamics, doing business as Bath Iron Works here in Maine, going by other names in a total of 46 countries where they manufacture everything from Zumwalt stealth destroyers “capable of destroying hundreds of targets at a rate of up to 10 per minute,” according to Popular Mechanics, to nuclear weapons, to private jets for the rich.

LD 1781, a corporate welfare bill, is bad for Maine politically, economically and in the self-respect department.

Please show some spine, Maine legislators. General Dynamics should be paying us a premium for the “rights” to pollute the Kennebec River for decades, force workers to exclusively make weapons, and buy our politicians.

Jason Rawn

Fulford can rebuild 2nd District

Regarding Greg Bates’ Feb. 4 BDN OpEd, I attended the same candidates’ forum in Belfast and thought Jonathan Fulford was pretty explicit about backing several of Bates’ ideas for rebuilding jobs in Maine.

As a builder, Fulford knows how much work it is to make old Maine houses more energy efficient, and he pointed to that and installing solar as big job opportunities. He spoke of the need for single-payer health care as the best way to make it affordable for small businesses to offer health care to their workers. I’d have to review the transcript to be sure, but I think he said he wanted home health care workers to be paid well enough to care for people in their homes rather than in hospitals. And I know he mentioned rural broadband access.

As for Bates’ last point, rather than pay for it with deficit spending like FDR, I’ll speak the unspeakable: let’s cut the military budget. The Pentagon can’t even account for billions they waste. Why give them more when they haven’t asked for it?

Charlie Crane

Bring Quebec hydro power into Maine

As a former director of Vermont Public Power Authority, I voted for the purchase of electric power from Hydro Quebec. Why? Because Hydro Quebec power was significantly less expensive than sources of electricity available to Vermont utilities, plus it was environmentally friendly hydro power from the huge hydro station at James Bay.

Vermont had to build a converter station and transmission line to bring the power to the Vermont grid. All in all, it was a good deal for Vermont utilities.

Central Maine Power should get on with it and build the transmission line as soon as possible. If Hydro Quebec power passes through Maine, CMP must be able to contract for power.

Richard de Grasse