Maine Governor Will Oppose Borrowing Aimed At Helping Biomass Industry

Governor Paul LePage told lawmakers he opposes a pair of bills that would have taxpayers fund a $45 million subsidy to help Maine’s floundering biomass industry. In a rare appearance before the Legislature’s budget-writing Appropriations Committee, LePage said the Legislature should focus instead on ways of creating industries that bring greater value from the state’s […]

Governor Paul LePage told lawmakers he opposes a pair of bills that would have taxpayers fund a $45 million subsidy to help Maine’s floundering biomass industry.

In a rare appearance before the Legislature’s budget-writing Appropriations Committee, LePage said the Legislature should focus instead on ways of creating industries that bring greater value from the state’s more than 18 million acres of forest lands.

The bills to support investments and a low-interest revolving loan fund come less than two years after the Legislature passed a $13.4 million taxpayer-funded bailout of the industry that LePage reluctantly supported at the time.

“They took the state subsidy for two years and now at the end of two years if you don’t give them a subsidy they are going to close,” LePage said of the previous bailout that largely went to help one company and the loggers who supplied it. “I call that corporate welfare at the worst, it can’t get any worse than that because they are coming in and they are telling you up front the only way they can survive is by you giving them a subsidy.”

LePage urged lawmakers to instead consider a bonding proposal he has offered in the past that would pump $50 million toward developing new products from Maine’s forests. He gave the example of a hardwood plywood mill that could then manufacture rifle and pistol stocks for gun makers who currently import their plywood from Russia.

From the Portland Press Herald: https://www.pressherald.com/2018/01/10/lepage-tells-lawmakers-he-will-oppose-borrowing-bills-aimed-at-helping-biomass-industry/

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