FILE - Factory worker, welder

(The Center Square) – Gov. Greg Gianforte wants to expand trades education in Montana.

A measure he supports, House Bill 252, would create the Montana Trades Education Credit (M-TEC), which would provide participating businesses with a 50-percent tax credit for employees who enroll in the program to learn a trade.

The program will support as many as 1,000 scholarships annually, according to a news release from the governor's office. Under the program, employers and employees can decide on training that is best for the business and the employee.

M-TEC will “strengthen our workforce, ensuring that Montana workers are well-equipped to succeed, thrive, and achieve the American dream,” Gianforte said in his Jan. 28 State of the State address.

The measure is sponsored by Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad. It went before the House Taxation Committee on Tuesday.

Cynthia Johnson, a farmer, rancher, and vice president of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, testified in support of the bill at the hearing.

“Every business owner knows the value of being able to secure local service – from electricians, carpenters, welders, plumbers, etc.," Johnson said, according to the governor's office. "Sometimes the fate of my ag production year rests in the hands of those who are technically trained to perform repairs, or to diagnose equipment failure. Businesses across the state have been insisting that Montana needs more attention paid to the technical trades. I think HB 252 is a great start for the state of Montana to put our money where our mouth is, and I encourage it to pass.”

A fiscal note attached to the bill said it would costs the state $1 million a year in tax revenue each year the credit would apply, starting in fiscal 2022.