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Laurie Osher of Orono is the owner of Osher Environment Systems. She represents District 123 in the Maine House of Representatives.
No matter who we are or where we’re from, most of us hope for similar things: A decent home, work and wages that support us and our families, a future in which our children will thrive and contribute to improving the world and the lives of others.
Work is honorable, vital and central to who Americans are as a nation. But when it comes to how we fund our communities and our country, we’re not rewarding work. Instead, our system taxes people who make their income from work much more than it taxes the very rich, who make theirs from wealth, and huge corporations, which often pay no taxes at all. It’s time to change that.
My small business, Osher Environment Systems, helps building owners to improve energy efficiency, lower energy costs and lower their carbon footprints. All of our building energy efficiency projects are completed by Maine workers, so each building upgrade is also an investment that strengthens the local economy.
As a legislator, representing Orono in Augusta, I know that our government must make investments in programs and infrastructure, and those investments will return huge benefits for workers, our families and our communities.
Wise investments include social safety net programs including SNAP, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and the programs that support poor children so they are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college and enter the middle class.
These programs benefit our whole society, but the poor and middle-income earners are paying the lion’s share of what they cost. Last year, 55 of America’s biggest corporations paid no federal income taxes despite making more than $40 billion in profits, and the wealth of the nation’s top 700 billionaires rose by more than 60 percent.
So, a few people get richer, and there isn’t enough money to repair the country’s crumbling roads and bridges. There isn’t money to fund unemployment insurance, economic relief programs or local public services — like schools. And we are all now way too vulnerable in crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic made this clear. It made things worse for low-income people, people of color and women. During the pandemic, the poorest among us have suffered the most and inequality has dramatically increased.
President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan would invest in our country by making health insurance, child care, housing and college more affordable. It would make community college debt-free for many and ensure that all workers have paid family and medical leave.
Biden’s plan would expand access to affordable home or community-based care for older people; make the expanded child tax credit for low and middle-income families permanent, expand preschool and expand the use of clean energy.
This plan will build an economy that supports workers and makes sure the very wealthy and major corporations pay their fair share. It will mobilize $4 trillion to improve our communities without raising taxes on anyone making under $400,000 a year. It will invest in our future without increasing our national debt.
As the head of a family and a small-business owner, I am proud to support the programs that will help build a just society. I agree with the majority of Mainers and Americans who say that the wealthy and corporations must pay their fair share in taxes.