Maryland comptroller pushes for immediate help for small businesses

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said he’s been hearing from small business owners across the state. And the message has been consistent: They need help now.

Franchot said after talking with Maryland business owners, “They feel, and I feel now, that we haven’t done enough.”

That’s why Franchot is pushing for a state aid package of $500 million, and he’s asking Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to authorize it.

At Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting, Franchot asked Hogan to act, saying, “You and I both know that we have the money in the reserves to get this done without resorting to draconian cuts.”

Hogan, who chairs the Board of Public Works, listened to Franchot, and responded by saying, “We’re going to be announcing some additional state relief” as early as Thursday, “and we’re going to continue to push for that much-needed stimulus at the federal level.”

However, Hogan added he was not optimistic that a federal package would be agreed upon before the election.

Franchot said businesses can’t wait for the federal government to act on the next stimulus package. He said too many businesses are barely hanging on now.

“It’s glaringly evident that the federal government’s having trouble doing what they’re supposed to do,” Franchot said, referring to getting needed aid to businesses.

Hogan said he had also been in touch with business owners across the state who are struggling to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I understand the pain that they’re going through. People that are losing their jobs; people who are losing their businesses,” but Hogan pointed out that the state is in a better position than most across the country.

Hogan said in his role as past chair of the National Governors Association, he helped lead the effort to get billions of dollars to states, including $20 billion to Maryland.

Hogan also said Maryland had pumped $250 million in state moneys into efforts to help small businesses.

In March, he announced a package of $175 million in grants, “layoff aversion” money and funds for manufacturing businesses. In July, a second round of aid totaling $50 million was announced.

Franchot said he wants to get more direct aid to businesses, and he said that “5% of our state businesses have gotten state relief.”

After the meeting, Franchot said, “This is not rocket science.”

“It’s very obvious in the communities in Maryland what small businesses are hanging on by a thread,” he said.

Franchot, a Democrat who has announced his plans to run for governor in 2022, said he’d made previous pitches for more state aid, but they had not gained any “traction” in Annapolis.

Hogan, a Republican, is in his second term and recently published a memoir, fueling speculation he was positioning himself for a 2024 run for president.

On Wednesday afternoon, Hogan’s office issued a release, saying that there would be an announcement Thursday at the State House in Annapolis on “Maryland’s health and economic recovery.”


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