New Markets program has served Maine well

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Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Emily Cain — what do they have in common? They’re all prominent Democrats running for higher office and they all support the New Markets Tax Credit program that was so harshly derided by Democratic state Rep. Paul Gilbert in the Sun Journal (Aug. 2).

Hillary Clinton’s website says, “The New Markets Tax Credit brought billions of dollars of tax relief and investment to hard-hit communities over the past decade.”

In 2013, Bernie Sanders issued a joint statement about a New Markets investment in Vermont, saying it would “make it possible to create jobs for Vermonters and to support long-term economic recovery and growth where help is needed the most.”

During a 2014 debate, Emily Cain touted her support of the program. “I was actually recognized nationally as a champion for small business because of work I did on expanding the New Markets Tax Credit that particularly focuses on rural, underserved areas.”

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Apparently Rep. Gilbert doesn’t agree with his fellow Democrats that we should direct investment into economically underprivileged areas to get them back on their feet.

The NMTCP has been responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of jobs across America. The program helps outside investors bring their much-needed funding into higher-risk ventures to help economically disadvantaged regions. The program steps in when the open investment market says no and provides a government guarantee to mitigate risk to large investors.

Such government intervention has been needed in a wide array of circumstances in Maine. For example, at the St. Croix Tissue mill in Baileyville, thanks to the NMTCP, hundreds of jobs will be saved in one of Maine’s key industries in an area already suffering from the economic downturn.

The program brought in a $2.13 million investment in the Park Street renovation in Lewiston. It brought $7 million into office and technology infrastructure in Presque Isle. It helped secure $13 million for an early childhood center in Waterville. And there are many more examples.

Rep. Gilbert referred to this program as a “scam.”

Despite Rep. Gilbert’s rhetoric, NMTCP has received strong bipartisan support and been recognized as a valuable program by supporters ranging from environmental and conservation groups to the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.

Rep. Gilbert’s harsh statements about the New Markets program reflect a cavalier attitude toward the real problem facing Maine’s economically challenged areas. It is very easy for someone in the public sphere to over-simplify and demagogue. It is much harder for someone to hang up the rhetoric and look for real solutions.

For working people across the country, and for thousands of Mainers in places such as Athens, Auburn, Brunswick, Baileyville, Livermore Falls, Milo and Rockland, the New Markets Tax Credit Program has been just that kind of solution.

Sen. Andre Cushing, Hampden

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