But low wage citizens are still hurting.
Annapolis, Md (KM) There’s good news when it comes to Maryland’s revenue picture, but not everyone benefiting.
During its meeting on Friday, the Board of Revenues voted to slightly increase the revenues projections for fiscal year 2021 by 0.3% to $18.8-billion, which is a $64-million jump since September. In addition, the Board revised its fiscal year 2022 revenue projections to $19.8-billion, which is a 0.7% increase—or $143-million more–compared to previous estimates.
“The good news is that we were able to actually right the revenues from September a little bit, not a huge amount,” says Comptroller Peter Franchot. “Why is that good? It shows that we are weathering the recession caused by the virus.”
But Franchot says it ‘s not all good news for low wage workers in Maryland who are hurting from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Largely, in the hospitality and restaurant sectors that have lost their jobs, and have no income coming in,” he says. “They don’t have ability to pay their rent or pay their medical bills. And they’re not getting relief payments.”
There have been discussions among members of Congress about a second stimulus bill, but no results so far.
Franchot says the state should put together its own stimulus plan. “I identified one-and-a-half billion dollars in easily obtainable money that could be spent to help these folks that are destitute right now. They often depend upon food bank for food for them and their kids,” he says.
And there should be some funding for Maryland’s small businesses. “The owners of which, for example, where a county says you have to shut down their restaurant. The county should pay the owner of that business the money so that they can do the right thing if that’s what the science says to shut down and not do indoor dining,” says Franchot.
Restaurants in Maryland can provide indoor dining at 50% of capacity, but they can only operate until 10:00 PM each night. However, take out and delivery services can continue.
Franchot says this state stimulus could be the bridge until Congress enacts another federal stimulus plan.
When asked about where he would find the one-and-a-half-billion dollars for a state stimulus plan, Franchot responded. “Well, I’m the money man. So I know where the reserve are. We have enormous reserves in Maryland and enormous liquidity. We’re a rich state.”
But he noted that he’s not the one who will decide on whether to enact a state stimulus plan. That’s up to the Governor and the General Assembly. “Do I think we need to do it yesterday? Absolutely,”: he said. There’s “a lot suffering going on right now in our state at the lower end of the social and economic ladder.”
By Kevin McManus