AUGUSTA — A bill sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to create a “Hire American” tax credit for companies that prioritize the hiring of Maine residents received a public hearing in the Legislature’s Taxation Committee on Wednesday.
LD 268, “An Act To Create a Credit under the Commercial Forestry Excise Tax for Landowners Using Businesses Based in the United States,” is a continuation of Jackson’s efforts to level the playing field for Maine workers facing Canadian competition.
“Too many Maine workers face unfair competition from their Canadian counterparts due to a cheaper exchange rate and a subsidized health care system. It’s something I have experienced firsthand in the Maine woods,” said President Jackson. “When Maine companies hire cheaper Canadian labor over qualified Maine workers, it depresses wages for everyone. All I’m asking for is an incentive to give Mainers a fair shot at work in their own back yard.”
In order to qualify for the credit, companies must be based in the United States and have at least 75 percent of United States residents as employees. The bill also has a “recapture” provision that allows the State Tax Assessor to rescind the tax credit if the state determines that the company in question did not meet the conditions of the credit.
“The principle behind this bill is simple: if companies are going to get tax breaks that effectively subsidized by Maine taxpayers, companies ought to be employing Maine people in those jobs,” said President Jackson. “I am hopeful that the Legislature will see it to support workers right here in our state.”
The bill is very similar to LD 1744, a bill that passed the Legislature last year. In the end, lawmakers in the House did not have the votes to override Gov. LePage’s veto.
The bill faces further work next week in the Taxation Committee.