Off the Maine coast. The state is northern and is dependent on oil for heating. With the BBBA energy costs will be seen as residents enjoy the rebates that help move them off of oil and into a clean energy economy. Photo by Ramona du Houx

November 19, 2021

Maine State Sen. Joe Baldacci. photo by Ramona du Houx

Oped by Joe Baldacci, Maine State Senator

We live in a moment of profound challenge and opportunity.

The pandemic has taken the lives of more than 1,200 Mainers and over 750,000 Americans, and we are still living under the scourge of COVID-19. Thousands of people are unemployed while many struggle to keep up with the demands of work and family. But don’t despair. The House of Representatives just passed transformative legislation, the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) that addresses long-standing failures to support our families, communities and the environment—failures that predate the pandemic but were exacerbated and exposed by it. Now the Senate needs to vote on this historic legislation that will invest in working people, to make up the deficit of dignity and opportunity that we’ve been stuck in for far too long.

They previously voted to gave away trillions to the biggest corporations and richest individuals, the majority of whom pay less taxes than a teacher or mechanic.  It’s time to invest in Mainers with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fundamentally change lives. If passed, it would provide significant benefits for working people while making the kinds of investments we need to see our economy grow for years to come, and protect the environment.

The BBBA would invest in child and elder care workers, who have been underpaid and undervalued for far too long. Some of these frontline heroes found their employers closing their doors even before the pandemic, which only made matters worse. BBBA would address the chronic shortage of child care options, raise wages for these cherished but low-paid workers, and save families money while allowing them to stay in the workforce.

While I am proud to have supported our heroic nursing home workers, so much more must be done to support older Mainers and those who have disabilities. The BBBA would invest hundreds of millions into  home and community-based services, creating thousands of needed jobs caring for the elderly and disabled who want to live independently at home.

Maine’s second Congressional district faces an affordable housing shortage of over 11,000 homes. Statewide, one in five renter households spend more than half their income on housing costs. The BBBA would make historic investments to increase the housing supply, making homes more affordable while stimulating the construction sector.

The BBBA also includes unprecedented investments to address the climate crisis, cut carbon pollution, deliver action on environmental justice, reduce energy bills for working families throughout Maine, and create millions of good jobs. The BBBA would put Mainers to work in clean energy, renewable manufacturing, infrastructure revitalization, and a Civilian Climate Corps that would work to protect our beloved outdoor spaces. These family-sustaining, union jobs would provide a boost for Maine’s local economies, benefiting everyone.

The bill includes more than $550 billion for climate action and will put our country on a path to dramatically cut the pollution driving climate change, while building a just and equitable economy. The investments would set the United States on a path to a 50-52% reduction in carbon pollution by 2030—the same goal scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

In addition, the BBBA would extend the child tax credit to put money in working families’ pockets; expand job training, and make college tuition more affordable.

Recently, the Congressional Budget Office released their report on BBBA, which clearly states it will benefit the economy, saying it would raise $207 billion over 10 years—meaning the net savings would be $127 billion.

We’ve been through so much during the pandemic. With these long-term investments we will bounce back to a more just society. One that gives give everyone a shot at the American dream. One where a fulfilling life is within our grasp. We can do big things, and we can build back better.