AUGUSTA –Rep. Richard Evans, D-Dover Foxcroft, and Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, introduced legislation on Tuesday to encourage job growth within Maine’s forestry industry through tax incentives for eligible businesses. LD 1919 would enable forest products businesses that hire new employees to be eligible for reimbursement of labor, training and equipment costs.
“For generations, families like mine have worked hard to make a good living in the Maine woods. However, the forest products industry has changed dramatically since my father, grandfather and great-grandfather first went to work in the woods. One of the key issues is that we’ve gone from a system where training workers was a part of the job to a system where training workers is simply not practical for existing contractors who are barely scraping by,” said President Jackson. “LD 1919 is a simple but effective way to create jobs and provide training to Maine workers in the forest products industry. As amended, I believe it can help give Maine workers a competitive edge for critical jobs in the forest products industry.”
Speaking before the Legislature’s Taxation Committee, Evans said that Maine has to do more to encourage job growth in an industry that’s considered by many to be one of Maine’s economic cornerstones. “Maine’s forest industry is an economic engine in our state, particularly in rural areas,” said Evans. “By providing hiring and training incentives, we can take a step towards strengthening the industry’s workforce in the years to come.”
Maine’s forestry industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with an estimated 30 to 40% decline in available markets for harvested wood and a 19% decrease in revenue for paper mills.
The Taxation Committee will hold a work session on LD 1919 in the coming weeks before the measure is considered by the full Legislature.