For the past 20 years, Bath Iron Works has received an annual $3 million tax subsidy from the state of Maine. Rep. Jennifer DeChant of Bath has introduced a bill (HP1227, LD1781, “An Act to Encourage New Major Investments in Shipbuilding Facilities and the Preservation of Jobs”) in the current session of the Legislature, that is specifically intended to extend that subsidy for the next 20 years.

BIW needs no financial assistance for new major investments or for the preservation of jobs since it is owned by General Dynamics Corp., one of the largest and most profitable U.S. defense contractors. Compensation for the CEO of General Dynamics last year totaled more than $21 million and it routinely uses its profits to buy back millions of shares of its own stock for the benefit of its executives and shareholders. The recent reduction in the federal corporate tax rate will allow it to retain many more millions of dollars for whatever purposes it sees fit (but probably not for wage increases for BIW workers). For General Dynamics, $60 million over the next 20 years is chump change.

There is a name for that kind of legislation. It’s called corporate welfare. Those who think that the welfare of the citizens of Maine is more important than the welfare of a corporation already funded primarily by tax dollars in the form of government contracts, might want to tell their senator and representative to vote “no” on LD 1781. After all, the public’s welfare comes first, doesn’t it?

John Morris, New Gloucester

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