Gov. Hogan proposes $1B in emergency economic relief for low-income families, small businesses

Gov. Hogan proposes $1B in emergency economic relief for low-income families, small businesses

Monday, January 11, 2021
Tyler Waldman, WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and FM 101.5

Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday unveiled a $1 billion economic aid package he wants state lawmakers to make their first order of business when they convene Wednesday for the 90-day General Assembly session.

The RELIEF Act of 2021 would distribute stimulus and tax relief to working families and small businesses.

Marylanders who qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit in 2019 or 2020 will get a pair of stimulus checks totaling $450 for individuals or $750 for families. The checks would go out as soon as the measure becomes law, with no need for qualifying Marylanders to apply.

This relief begins with immediate payments of $500 for families and $300 for individuals who filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit, followed by a second-round stimulus for EITC filers that would provide an additional $250 for eligible families and $150 for individuals. Similar to federal stimulus payments, no application for relief is necessary.


The bill would repeal state and local tax on unemployment benefits, providing $180 million in tax relief for recipients.

Restaurants and small businesses would be able to keep some of the sales tax they have collected, resulting in $311 million in tax relief. The bill would also codify a Hogan executive order shielding businesses from an increase in the unemployment insurance rate that was set to go into effect and protect businesses from owing increased taxes incurred from receiving a state loan or grant.

“All of this targeted relief will help businesses keep their doors open and keep more people on the payroll,” Hogan said.

The proposal is funded by sources including the state’s “rainy day” fund, Hogan said.

The legislation would bring the total state dollars spent on coronavirus relief to $1.7 billion. That is in addition to billions of dollars in federal funding.

The latest federal relief package directed $15 billion in relief funding to the state, along with $10 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program and $4 billion in stimulus checks to individuals. The relief funding will be directed to projects including rental assistance, education and transportation.

“This is critical, much-needed funding and once we receive all the federal guidance which is required, we will work to get these funds out the door as quickly as possible,” Hogan said. “We will ask both houses of the legislature to act on it immediately so I can sign it onto law immediately so that these relief measures can take effect.”

He said he has met with Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones and believes they are on the same page.

“I think we’re all in agreement that the legislative session should focus on economic relief and we will hopefully be getting everybody on board with moving forward as quickly as possible,” Hogan said.

In a joint statement, Ferguson and Jones said the bill incorporates their priorities. They said lawmakers have worked on their own proposals to fix a troubled unemployment insurance system, aid small businesses and help nursing home residents.

“We look forward to the governor working with us to accomplish these goals and demonstrating for the country what the true value of bipartisanship can be,” they said.

Hogan said another legislative proposal, Del. Haven Shoemaker’s call for lawmakers to get a say in how long a state of emergency may continue, was “the dumbest proposal I’ve ever heard.”

“If it’s an emergency and a state of emergency, you can’t wait a year for the legislature to come back,” he said.

Maryland has been under a state of emergency since March 5 of last year. The legislative session was cut short, ending on March 16 due to the pandemic.

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