Defeat of LePages election year “Business Zones” bill

BY RAMONA DU HOUX

April 11th, 2014 

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

The Maine Senate voted today 22-13 to defeat LD 1835, Governor LePage’s proposal for business incentive zones that included language that would have weakened workers’ rights inside the zones. The bill would have diminished the value of the already established Pine Tree Zone tax incentive program put in place by the Baldacci Administration. In exchange for tax breaks companies certified as PTDZ’s have to add jobs with healthcare and be beneficial to their communities. Le Page wanted to make PTDZ’s for big corporations while limiting union participation.

“The anti-worker provisions of the bill are illegal. They are an ideologically motivated effort to lower worker’s wages and eliminate unions as an important check and balance on corporate power in our economy. Workers in so called right to work state earn $1500 less per year. That’s the wrong direction for Maine,” said Don Berry, President of the Maine AFL-CIO. “LD 1835 was not a real economic development strategy or plan. This is “lottery ticket” economic development from the LePage Administration – wishing and hoping that if we give away enough tax dollars some big company will magically come. It doesn’t work.”

Gov. John E. Baldacci with workers at a lumber company celebrating the company's Pine Tree Development status. photo by Ramona du Houx

Gov. John E. Baldacci with workers at a lumber company celebrating the company’s Pine Tree Development status. photo by Ramona du Houx

“Maine businesses have not come to us once to ask for this kind of proposal,” Rep. Anne Marie Mastraccio, who serves on the state’s Labor and Workforce Development committees. “It’s not good for Maine people and it’s not good for Maine businesses or workers. It’s the wrong approach to boosting our economy.”

Multiple studies have documented that 95 percent of all new jobs in Maine are created by existing businesses expanding and new businesses starting up. A review of the top 50 employers in Maine, shows that all of them are homegrown companies, with the exception of the national retailers or chains, which are in every state.

“The LePage Administration has left thousands of jobs on the table by vetoing Medicaid extension and a minimum wage increase and holding bonds hostage. This bill is nothing more than an effort to whitewash the failed economic development record of the LePage Administration,” added Berry.