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Bill Proposed to Include Town of Berwick, Maine in Pine Tree Zone Corporate Welfare Benefits

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Beth O'Connor is a Maine State Legislator who threatened to block me from Maine Tax Payers United during election season for criticizing LePage. Eventually she had her proxy block me.

But today I saw a post on Facebook by Beth promoting a bill she is sponsoring to add the town of Berwick to the special interests groups in Maine which are qualified to receive Pine Tree Zone benefits- one of the Maine Development Corporation's many  corporate welfare programs:

Maine LD 93: An Act To Allow the Town of Berwick To Be Eligible for Full Pine Tree Development Zone Benefits

I made the comment below and a few others before Beth caught on and blocked me once again from posting comments on her Facebook page.  In Maine it is common practice for public representatives to block the voices of those expressing views that the politician does not want to hear. The other participant in the conversation  testified that LePage blocks her comments- a story I have heard before. The other commentator was arguing against the PTZ as well and Representative O'Connor cited statistics as evidence that the PTZ was working. I no longer have access to that conversation so I cannot reproduce those statistics here .

In 2012 the Pine Tree Watch Dog published this study on the Pine Tree Zone. To my knowledge no further reports have been conducted since.

This instruction was an attempt to get a direct answer to the question: Would businesses have created jobs if they did not get the tax breaks from programs such as PTDZ?
The MCEDE report first says yes, then later throws cold water on its own answer:
On Page 7 the report states: “our research indicates that Maine’s investments do appear to meet this important ‘but for’ criterion.”
But a footnote on the same page concedes they “relied on those administering the program and respondents to the survey to indicate if the ‘but for’ criteria was satisfied.”
In other words, the study asked the two groups directly tied to PTDZ – the department that boasts of its success and the recipients of $46 million in tax breaks – for their conclusion about whether it was working.
“Big surprise,” commented Sen. Richard Woodbury, one of the legislature’s experts on economic development and taxation. Woodbury is an independent from Yarmouth and a Harvard-trained economist.
As an economist, he said the state would be better off if there were many fewer tax breaks such as PTDZ.
Their effect is to give a favored set of businesses lower taxes, which means everyone else pays more to make up the difference.
The argument that the tax breaks are a net plus for the economy because they create jobs is “enormously hard” to prove, he said.
“They're not focused well enough or monitored accurately enough and as such can be a giveaway,” Woodbury said.
The standard of relying on those who benefit from the program to testify for the measure of success of the program was also used by the Maine media in 2013 when it was campaigning for the "Expanded and Improved Seed Capital Tax Credit"- a bill which expanded by eightfold the cap on refundable tax credits to an industry which has been blanket exempted from taxation since 1977 - the same year that the Maine Development Foundation (Corporation) was chartered as the foundation stone for the vast network of state corporations in place today, corporations like FAME and DECD and MTI whose primary function is to distribute corporate welfare.

link to statute

The censoring of public speech by elected officials via twitter and Facebook is an extension of media policies that use those who benefit from a policy as the measure of success of that policy. It is also a measure of the degree to which the state is being run for special interests and not the common welfare as identified as the object of government in the Preamble to the Maine State Constitution.

This is one of the  comments I posted before Beth O'Connor censored my freedom of speech on the subject of the bill she is sponsoring:

The PTZ as originally written in 2003 was for low income high unemployment areas and was written in general terms applied commonly throughout the state. Pursuant to the way the PTZ was originally written there would be no need for a special act of legislation applying to the town of Berwick.

The PTZ was transformed into benefits for specially designated interests in 2009 giving emphasis to towns in Maine located in former military development areas and chartered unconstitutionally by our legislature as municipal corporations serving as instrumentalities of the state.

Article IV Part Third Section 14 of the Maine Constitution prohibits the legislature from chartering corporations with an exceptions for municipal PURPOSES- an instrumentality of the state means it is for a state purpose and is not covered by that exception, in my layman citizen's opinion - nor is it covered by the only other exception- if the object of the corporation cannot be achieved another way. The object is economic development and it can be achieved another way- in the private sector!
So in 2009 the PTZ was rewritten to give a special designation to municipal corporations chartered by our legislature in violation of their oaths of loyalty to the Maine Constitution. To include the town of Berwick, no special statute is needed- just repeal statutes concerning the PTZ passed since 2009 when the PTZ was transformed from a statute with terms applied commonly across Maine to a statute designating a different set of special interest than the bill was originally intended to benefit (low income high unemployment areas).
When the bill that fundamentally transformed the PTZ was passed in 2009, the Republicans wrote that it "passed silently through the legislature" which means with minimal media coverage but the media coverage that eventually came out- well after the three month window of opportunity for the public to repeal the statute, erroneously reported that it expanded the benefits state wide- meaning taking out the terms in which there is a requirement for the area to be classified as low income and high unemployment. If the media representation were true there would be no need for another special act of legislation to be passed to include the town of Berwick.

Most of the original PTZ has been repealed and is no longer published online but part of it still exists and if you keep clicking the forward arrows, you can see how it was fundamentally transformed in 2009 to the point that now there needs to be special acts of legislation written to include specific towns.
There was a time when I got along with Beth O'Connor and I posted my blog posts on The Maine TaxPayers United Facebook page but over time Ms O'Connor started saying that she just couldn't understand what I was writing about and she became increasingly intolerant of any criticism of Governor Lepage especially during an elections season. Although the group is called Maine Tax Payers United, it donated and supported the LePage campaign and so in that sense is not really a group inclusive of all Maine taxpayers. Once Ms O'Conner threatened to ban me from the group, I started another group called Maine Taxpayers United For the Constitution, which was eventually used as the excuse to ban me from Maine Taxpayers United as if the group has a claim on those words. In my view their group, in not identifying what unites Maine Taxpayers should be a group welcoming all political views.

 But Representative O'Connor like much of our legislature either has no respect for or no knowledge and understanding of the Maine Constitution and how that document defines the objects of government, giving stress to "common" welfare and to God's wisdom.

Objects of government.  We the people of Maine, in order to establish justice, insure tranquility, provide for our mutual defense, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty, acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity, so favorable to the design; and, imploring God's aid and direction in its accomplishment, do agree to form ourselves into a free and independent State, by the style and title of the State of Maine and do ordain and establish the following Constitution for the government of the same.
Does Representative O'Connor not understand the significance of the phrase "common welfare" as meaning that which is commonly shared by all of the inhabitants of Maine?  Does she not see that if she has to create a special act of legislation to include a specific town in tax incentive benefits- that the statute that she seeks to amend is not serving the common welfare but serving instead special interests? Can she not understand what is wrong with that picture?  If Representative O'Connor does not understand that, then it is too much to expect that she could understand the meaning of  "the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity, so favorable to the design; and, imploring God's aid and direction in its accomplishment, do agree to form ourselves into a free and independent State, by the style and title of the State of Maine and do ordain and establish the following Constitution for the government of the same." 

I submit that a state which is established under the terms stated above is incompatible with a centrally managed economy and the increasingly state totalitarianism in which Maine is being driven, not exclusively by the LePage administration- but aggressively so. Totalitarian systems ultimately displace God's aid and direction with man's direction as we see in the current social environment taking many different expressions.


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