The BIW and ETIF credits are the only corporate handouts in Maine that are actually tied to employment numbers and salaries. State officials have for years given loan guarantees, tax rebates, and other financial incentives to companies without promises of new jobs or decent wages.
The biggest such program, the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement plan, is designed to reward investment by refunding from state coffers money companies pay in local property taxes for their equipment and machinery. In 2011, BETR gave companies a total of $55,263,656. Eleven companies got more than $1 million each in refunds from the state; of those, only LL Bean ($1 million) is headquartered in Maine. Six are out-of-state, including the biggest winner, Verso Paper ($4.3 million), BIW ($3.2 million), and Walmart ($1 million). The remaining four are owned by companies in other countries, like Nestle Waters North America (owner of Poland Spring; $1.9 million).
And these are hardly the only handouts the state offers. There are dozens of tax breaks on the books in Maine, all detailed in Maine Revenue Services reports (issued every other year, most recently in 2011). Lance Tapley analyzed the first such report on these so-called "tax expenditures" for the Portland Phoenix in 2008 (see "Tax Break Heaven") and found that of the state's $3.4 billion in tax breaks that year (an amount almost exactly the size of the state's actual spending), companies got $682 million, and wealthy Mainers got $808 million. Poor people got $157 million in tax breaks, and the middle class saw about half the total tax-break benefit, or $1.7 billion.
: This Just In
, Taxes, Todd Gabe, Bath Iron Works