CommunityWilliam J. Ford

Md. Senate Proposes $520M Amendment to Hogan’s COVID-19 Relief Package

One day after a Maryland Senate committee reviewed Gov. Larry Hogan’s $1 billion coronavirus stimulus and economic plan, members from the chamber released a proposal Wednesday to add additional relief.

According to a summary of the plan, an additional $520 million would go toward the governor’s relief package for education, small businesses, nonprofit organizations and other items.

“The Senate will be focusing on COVID-19 relief through the eyes of our most vulnerable and impacted Marylanders and small businesses,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City). “We know that this crisis has not been felt equally. An equitable recovery is essential. Now is our time to act.”

The Senate’s proposal includes:

• $125 million to disperse grants and loans for businesses severely affected by the pandemic and that haven’t received assistance in the past.
• $116 million for education assistance such as summer school and resources to resume in-person instruction.
• $63 million toward transportation with the Maryland Transit Administration, road maintenance and shuttle and commuter bus services.
• $59 million to assist those with temporary disabilities, support volunteer firefighters and food banks.
• $45 million toward mental health and other health-related services.
• $44 million toward unemployment insurance that includes hiring 47 caseworkers.
• $40 million for nonprofit and arts organizations.
• $28 million for housing and legal assistance.

Sen. Guy Guzzone (D-Howard County) said the amendment will be reviewed Thursday before the Budget and Taxation Committee, which he chairs.

He said about $300 million would come from the state’s rainy day fund to help pay for the majority of the proposal. The rest of the money would come from other reserves such as a local income tax and retirement program in the fiscal 2021 and 2022 budgets.

He also said using these funds wouldn’t cut or cause a delay in current projects or programs.

Ferguson said the goal would be to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a full discussion next week.

Hogan’s emergency legislation, the RELIEF Act 2021, proposes stimulus checks of $450 for individuals and $750 for families slated to benefit about 400,000 people. It would be based on those who qualified for earned income tax credit in 2019 and those eligible in 2020.

Another part of the governor’s proposal aims to provide $300 million in tax relief for small businesses. Each of the estimated 55,000 businesses would receive a sales tax credit of up to $3,000 for four months for total of $12,000.

The act proposes to provide unemployment tax relief for small businesses to halt any tax hikes during this year. According to a summary, it protects a business against any tax increases if a business owner received a state loan or grant during the pandemic.

Hogan plans to be in Prince George’s County on Wednesday afternoon at a Giant Food pharmacy in District Heights, which will be part of the state’s network to administer coronavirus vaccines.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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