A state House panel has unanimously approved a bill to provide tax incentives to the ailing coal industry.
House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins says his bill will permit tax breaks on machinery and manufacturing for coal-related companies. The Democrat says the breaks are similar to incentives enjoyed by car manufacturing plants in the state and reduce economic strain on the industry.
“Those are everything from sales tax credits on the materials, pieces and parts it takes to build an assembly line, or put the pieces and parts in whatever operation or manufacturer or industrial complex that it may be, whether it be at AK Steel in the Ashland area, whether it be at Toyota or Ford," Adkins said. "That’s going on at Toyota and Ford as we speak.”
Adkins says his bill is designed to retain jobs in the beleaguered coal industry, which employs its lowest number of workers since 1927. But, he says the industry is still worth supporting.
“I don’t think coal is on its last leg. I think low-cost energy helped build the industrial manufacturing sector of this nation," said Adkins. "It helped build America. And from the industrial manufacturing sector came the blue-collar middle-class.”
According to the New York Times, Kentucky gave nearly $570 million in incentives to the coal industry in 2012 alone.
Last year, coal jobs in Kentucky reached their lowest point since 1927, with over 2,300 jobs lost in 2013.
The bill now heads to the House floor.