Idexx Laboratories, Inc., Maine’s largest public company, recently announced plans to match employees’ 401(k) contributions. In January, Camden National Bank gave out one-time bonuses of $1,000 to all non-executive, full-time employees.

On Feb. 1, Unum, which employs over 3,000 people in Maine, announced a base-wage raise to $15 per hour, creation of paid parental leave and an additional $1 million in charitable donations.

Pottle Transportation in Hermon plans to buy 25 tractors and 25 trailers this year, adding capacity to its 170-unit truckload fleet. “Before the tax bill, we were planning on trading in trucks, but now we would like to grow our fleet because we think our customers will also benefit and be busier, too,” CEO Barry Pottle told Transport Topics on Feb. 12.

On March 4, the Kennebec Journal reported that “about 300 employees of a Gardiner-based company are receiving bonuses (March 5), following changes to the federal tax code enacted in the closing days of 2017. … Peter Prescott, chief executive officer of Everett J. Prescott Inc., said employees who have been with EJP, along with its five sister companies – PEP Transportation, RED HED Manufacturing, Quality Water Products, Plastic Pipe Fabrication and the University of Prescott – will receive a $1,000 bonus. Employees with less than a year of service will receive a $250 bonus.”

These companies aren’t alone. Across the country, over 370 companies of all sizes have announced bonuses, raises, and other new benefits for millions of employees. They’ve all credited tax reform – and thanked conservative lawmakers for seeing it through.

In late December, Congress passed the largest tax reform in a generation. The law slashed individual income taxes and reduced the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. Previously, American businesses faced the highest statutory tax rate in the industrialized world. Now, the rate is slightly lower than the global average.

This was all designed to be rocket fuel for the economy. When companies can keep more of their own money, they don’t just sit on it. They invest it in new equipment, boost research and development, hire more employees and pay higher wages to attract and retain talent. All that means more jobs, higher incomes and greater financial security for working Americans.

Critics lambasted tax reform as legislation that wouldn’t benefit American workers and families. But Americans are seeing the impact of the tax overhaul with their own eyes and in their own paychecks. Apple announced it would repatriate and invest a significant share of the $250 billion it has stashed overseas and create 20,000 jobs. AT&T plans to invest an extra $1 billion in the United States thanks to tax reform. Walmart, which has over 6,000 employees in Maine, plans to raise wages and grant hourly workers six weeks of parental leave.

These corporate giants aren’t anomalies. Wall Street analysts predict that capital expenditures at U.S. firms will spike by nearly 7 percent this year. Even the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central banking system, agrees that tax reform will turbocharge the economy. After the tax cut passed, the Fed predicted the U.S. economy would grow 2.5 percent in 2018, up from its previous projection of 2.1 percent. Many economists expect even faster growth.

In light of the overwhelming evidence that tax reform is working, critics have been reduced to harrumphing that the benefits are mere “crumbs.” Tell that to the millions of workers who have received bonuses and raises – or to the long-term under-employed Americans who are finally in the high-paying jobs they desire as companies reinvest in America.

Let’s not forget about the communities that will be supported by increased charitable giving. Despite critics’ claims that giving would decline, as a volunteer for the Cromwell Center for Disabilities Awareness in Portland, I have seen how schoolchildren all across our state are benefiting directly from Unum’s generous support of our classroom programs, which teach inclusion and respect for people of all abilities.

Thanks to pro-growth economic policies that have been neglected in Washington, D.C., for far too long, Maine’s working families will enjoy higher pay, better benefits and a booming economy that will improve the standard of living in the great state of Maine.

— Special to the Press Herald