The people who we elect to represent us in the Maine legislature are supposed to do that … represent us. Aren’t they?
Judging by the taxation committee’s recent 9 – 2 vote “ought to pass” on LD 1781, a bill to give $60 million in tax giveaways to General Dynamics, apparently, some of them don’t. But that was just 11 of our so-called representatives; we will soon have a better idea of just how well Maine citizens are represented when the bill is voted on by the full legislature.

Proponents of this bill claim that Bath Iron Works, which is owned by General Dynamics, needs the money to remain competitive. But that claim is false. BIW only has a single “competitor,” Ingalls Shipyard in Mississippi, and over the decades the Navy, for strategic reasons, has pretty evenly divided contracts to build its ships between Ingalls and BIW.

Last year, BIW received more money in federal contracts than in any year since 2011 … more than $2 billion. It was recently awarded a $14.9 million contract to design the next generation Navy frigate, and as Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree noted, that “… could lead to enough work to keep the shipyard busy for years.”

Even were that not the case, last December the Navy announced its intention to have 10 more destroyers built for it in the next four years. The notion that Maine needs to fork over yet more of its taxpayer’s money in order to keep BIW competitive is a lie. BIW is doing very well, and will continue to do so.

However, if BIW did indeed need help, its owner, General Dynamics, could well afford to do so.

General Dynamics was ranked 90th on the most recent list of Fortune 500 companies. It is one of the largest “defense” contractors on the planet, and being a corporation that produces the weapons of war, and makes its profits off of war, it is an extremely wealthy corporation.

Its annual revenues are estimated at $31 billion, more than four times Maine’s entire annual budget. It makes some $3 billion in annual profits. With plenty of available cash on hand, General Dynamics management spent nearly $10.3 billion since 2013 buying back its own stock, so as to boost its price on the open market. Just last month it purchased another company for $6.8 billion. And in 2016, Its CEO took home more than $21 million!

Senator Justin Chenette (D-York), one of two members of the Taxation Committee who actually stood up for the people of this state by voting against the bill, said, “If your parent company is making $3 billion in profits, you’re not the one who needs a tax break, and I am very uncomfortable moving in that direction to provide a taxpayer handout to a company that can afford it”.

Our state has so many needs. With way too many Mainers living in poverty, lacking in sufficient healthcare, with our roads and bridges in need of repairs, with our schools seriously underfunded, to name but a few of those needs, throwing taxpayer’s money at a company that doesn’t need it is far worse than a slap in the face to the people of this state. It is a shameful betrayal!

The people who are supposed to represent us in the Maine legislature should do that … even if it requires growing a spine. We will know who they represent; us, or super-wealthy corporations, by how they vote on LD 1781.
And we will remember!

Russell Wray
Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats

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