I've revised my cartoon again to reflect the 25% reduction in the price tag for Maine taxpayers of this giveaway to General Dynamics' BIW shipyard. Here's a press release about why that happened that includes news that the largest union at BIW, S6 Machinists, is deeply divided on the bill and has declined to endorse it.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEDIA ADVISORY: LD1781, A TAX GIVEAWAY BILL FOR GENERAL DYNAMICS/BATH IRON WORKS, RUNS INTO TROUBLE
Augusta, March 12 -- A controversial bill to extend a $60 million tax giveaway to General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works shipyard ran into trouble in the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation of the Maine Legislature
During a work session for the bill co-sponsored by Rep. Jennifer DeChant and Sen. Eloise Vitelli amendments untended to make the bill more palatable to Maine taxpayers, reduced the amount of the tax giveaway to $45 million over 20 years.
The bill was voted 9-2 “ought to pass” and will now be taken up the legislature. Letters from opponents have continued pouring in to Maine newspapers, with 107 published in 30 different papers as of yesterday. Opponents are also using an online petition and a email tool from RootsAction to send messages directly to their Maine legislators.
The largest union at BIW, S6 Machinists, has declined to endorse LD 1781. Following a meeting on the bill attended by about 100 members, a vote was taken on the question. As the results were evenly split (50/50), the union leadership decided to take no action. Hunger striker Bruce Gagnon of 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.” Gagnon is in the 28th day of fasting until a vote is taken on LD 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, opponents point out that General Dynamics has used past Maine subsidies -- $200 million since 1997 -- to mechanize the operation which has led to job loss. Also that General Dynamics has used the money to buy back their own stocks, driving market value and executive compensation higher. Last year General Dynamics’ CEO made $21 million.
Mark Roman of Solon testified at the public hearing for LD1781 in opposition, and he attended the four taxation committee work sessions 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,” Roman explained.
The figure derives from the KIDS COUNT analysis of U.S. Census data, 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.
Cartoon by Suzanna Lasker