AUGUSTA – The Democrat-controlled Legislature on Monday killed a bill proposed by Republican Gov. Paul LePage that would have offered business tax breaks and workers the ability not to pay labor union fees in certain parts of the state.
The governor’s proposal would have created zones at the former Loring Air Force Base and Brunswick Naval Air Station where companies that invest more than $50 million and create at least 1,500 jobs could receive tax and energy cost relief and assistance to help train and recruit workers.
Those areas would also be right-to-work zones, meaning nonunion employees wouldn’t have to pay fees to negotiate or administer contracts.
The House voted 91-55 to kill the bill Monday. It was rejected by the Senate last week.
Democrats attacked the proposal as anti-union and questioned why the administration was resurrecting a right-to-work effort that failed in the Legislature even when Republicans were in charge of it. Lawmakers cited concerns that the proposal would take benefits away from other businesses just to provide incentives to large companies in one part of the state.
But Republicans said Maine would be taking no risk by offering these tax breaks. Others said Democrats were rejecting a chance to bring thousands of jobs to the state.
“Rather than ask, ‘What do we have to lose?’ … I would counter by saying that we have everything to lose if we turn our backs on quality jobs and bow down to the union bosses,” said Rep. Lawrence Lockman, a Republican from Amherst.