Take Action: It’s Time for Maine to Buy American

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Apr 08 2024 |
While several states and the federal government have Buy America laws on the books, Maine does not. It’s time to change that. Getty Images

State lawmakers have the chance to reinvest more taxpayer money back into local workers and manufacturers. You know what to do, Mainers!

James A. McBrady, Inc. first began fabricating steel for buildings in Maine all the way back in 1951. In the decades since, the family-owned and operated company has helped build everything from schools to hospitals to the right field bleachers at Hadlock Stadium.

Unfortunately, while James A. McBrady, Inc. stands ready and able to make the steel that Maine needs for infrastructure and other construction projects, the state’s “purchasing policies aren’t always supportive of companies like ours,” current owner James McBrady told Alliance for American Manufacturing supporters via email on Monday.

“They often bypass us and other American companies when enacting taxpayer-funded contracts, opting to instead send your hard-earned tax dollars overseas to buy products from foreign competitors,” McBrady wrote.

Now legislation making its way through the Maine legislature aims to change that. The Maine Buy America and Build Maine Act would give American companies and workers preference when bidding on state-funded construction projects. That means more taxpayer money will go toward Made in USA products instead of being sent on goods manufactured abroad in countries like China.

Introduced by Senate President Troy Jackson, the bill has the backing of groups like the Steel Fabricators of New England, American Institute of Steel Construction, and of course, us here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Our own Brian Lombardozzi testified in support of the legislation earlier this year, telling lawmakers that Buy America is simply good policy.

“Reinvesting tax dollars into the local and national economy promotes growth, expands the tax base, and – by creating more job opportunities for middle-class Americans – reduces the burden on social safety net programs,” Lombardozzi said.

Buy America laws are incredibly popular with the public — the last time we polled on this issue, 78% of likely voters said they support it. The federal government already has Buy America laws on the books, as do states like New York, Texas, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania.

But Maine does not. That means state taxpayer money is sent abroad far too often, which is a real missed opportunity to reinvest that money back into the state. “State contract dollars sent overseas do not matriculate back to help the people who worked hard to earn the income creating those tax dollars,” McBrady pointed out in his email.

“To be clear, we aren’t afraid of competition,” McBrady said in his email. “On a level playing field we can compete against anyone in the world! Foreign companies don’t abide by the strict labor and environmental standards that we do in Maine. They are often heavily subsidized by their government, whereas we operate in a free market.”

It’s time for Maine to join the federal government and many of its neighboring states and pass this commonsense legislation. If you are in Maine, you can help! Tell your state lawmakers to support the Maine Buy American and Build Maine Act.