By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Sen. Amanda Shelton today introduced a bill proposing to extend the tax incentive for businesses participating in the Guam Registered Apprenticeship Program or GRAP.
Under the law, any business that employs apprentices who are enrolled and registered under the program is entitled to a tax credit against its business privilege tax liability equal to 50 of the eligible costs paid or incurred by the business.
The tax credit — a sunset provision that has been added to the original law which created the program—is set to expire in 2024.
Shelton's Bill 120-37 proposes to extend the sunset provision through 2029.
The 50 percent tax credit applies to direct wages of apprentices, direct fringe benefits, journeyman’s wages, instructor costs, training costs, and personal protective equipment that was incorporated into the original law by the 28th Guam Legislature.
The tax incentive was originally scheduled to expire in 2019 but it was extended by the 35th Guam Legislature for another five years.
The program, managed by the Guam Department of Labor, is designed to incentivize businesses to recruit, train and retain skilled workers in exchange for tax breaks.
According to the department's report last year, the program provided $4.7 million in tax credits to 14 participating companies in 2022.
Since the enactment of the sunset provision in 2006, GRAP has provided approximately $43 million in tax credits to local companies that have recruited apprentices in high-demand career fields such as telecommunications, engineering, finance, electrical, and healthcare.
According to a press release from Shelton's office, several high-demand jobs are matched with graduates of various certificate and degree programs at the Guam Community College.
“GRAP is good for workers, good for the industry, and good for Guam,” Shelton said. “It is an effective means by which to keep jobs and people from leaving the island.”
The GRAP program was initiated after the island lost a large number of skilled federal civilian ship repair workers in the 1990s.
Today, training is available in diversified 21st-century technology-driven industries, including renewable energy, telecommunications and logistics, which were in their infancy when Guam was losing ship repair jobs.
Bill 120-37 is co-sponsored by Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, Sens. Roy Quinata, Joe San Agustin, Jesse Lujan, Sabina Perez, Senator Dwayne San Nicolas, and William Parkinson.