Cate Street is a proven master, however, at getting governmental backing.

Besides the FAME guarantee, Cate Street has received, for the East Millinocket mill and now Thermogen, millions of dollars from the state in “refundable” New Markets Capital Investment Credits to be applied against income taxes.

Cate Street plans to resell the credits to US Bank, one of the largest commercial banks. US Bank will then market them to people or firms that will use them to reduce their tax bills. But “refundable” means that if there are no profits and, therefore, no taxes owed, US Bank’s clients in Maine could get payments from the state.

The New Markets credits are a tax break modeled after a federal one, which the company also has received, except the federal one isn’t refundable. The state tax break was loosened by the Legislature this spring specifically to help Cate Street, which up to then had received the only credits given out, for the East Millinocket mill.

Scott Tranchemontagne, Cate Street’s spokesman, said the sale of the Thermogen credits would net $7 million for the project. The state, however, could pay out or lose in tax revenue as much as $16 million to the owners of the credits.

The undeserving poor: cutting Medicaid

Stacey Jacobsohn, of Augusta, a self-employed
housepainter for 25 years, will see her
Medicaid (MaineCare) health insurance end
January 1. Jacobsohn hopes to graduate from
the University of Maine at Augusta with a
master’s degree in communications in
December. She will seek a job in the nonprofit
sector to help people become “more a part
of their community.”

Also facing her Medicaid being cut off is Gail
MacLean, of Gray. MacLean has owned and
operated by herself a small horse-boarding
business, Thread of the Mill Farm, for 14 years.
She also raises vegetables and a few cattle
and burns firewood from her land. She owns
her home and shares ownership of the 22.5-acre
farm with her sister and her sister’s partner.

How the different law for the poor plays out could be seen this June when Republican legislators voted to uphold Governor LePage’s veto blocking Medicaid coverage for 70,000 Mainers who could be called the not-quite-getting-by or the working poor. Democrats have majorities in both House and Senate, but a two-thirds vote is required to override a veto. The override narrowly failed.

As part of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — the federal government would have fully paid for Medicaid for these folks for the first three years. Then the federal share would drop to 90 percent by 2020. (See “86 Mainers to Die by Election Day, 2014,” by Lance Tapley, June 28.)

Roughly 24,000 of these people — 14,000 low-income parents and 10,000 single people earning less than $11,500 annually — are on Medicaid now. But because of LePage’s veto of the bill accepting federal money they will lose coverage January 1, although Sara Gagné-Holmes of Equal Justice Partners, a group that advocates for poor people, said the parents might be eligible for some months of Medicaid while they “transition” off the program.

Democrats have vowed to try to reverse the decision in the next regular session of the Legislature, which begins in January. A compromise with Republican legislators is possible.

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