Governor Larry Hogan Monday proposed a relief package totaling $1-billion to help Marylanders and families who have been struggling during the pandemic.
The package includes tax credits for Marylanders of low-to-moderate income, relief from state and local taxes on unemployment benefits and other payments and credits for citizens and small businesses. Hogan introduced the legislation on an emergency basis so checks could start going out as soon as the package is passed and signed.
“With the start of a new 2021 legislative session on Wednesday, we are now asking the legislative branch to assist by immediately passing this stimulus and tax relief package to help even more struggling families and small businesses across our state,” Hogan said. “We will be introducing the RELIEF Act of 2021 as emergency legislation on day one. We will ask both houses of the legislature to act on it immediately, so that I can immediately sign it into law, and these relief measures can take effect—all so that we can immediately get these much-needed dollars out the door and into the pockets of those who desperately need it.”
Hogan’s office released this summary of the RELIEF Act (Recovery for the Economy, Livelihoods, Entrepreneurs and Families Act:
Provides direct stimulus payments for low-to-moderate income Marylanders, with benefits of up to $750 for families and $450 for individuals. 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. This relief will directly help more than 400,000 Marylanders. Similar to federal stimulus payments, no application for relief is necessary. ($270 million)
Repeals all state and local income taxes on unemployment benefits, providing further support and assistance for Marylanders who have lost their jobs. ($180 million)
Supports small businesses with sales tax credits of up to $3,000 per month for four months— for a total of up to $12,000—freeing-up much needed resources to protect payrolls and sustain operations. This relief will directly help more than 55,000 Maryland small businesses. ($300 million)
Extends unemployment tax relief for small businesses, staving off sudden and substantial tax hikes in 2021. This provision codifies an emergency order the governor issued last month. ($218 million)
Safeguards Maryland businesses against any tax increase triggered by the use of state loan or grant funds. ($40 million)
In a statement, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said Hogan was “passing the buck” to the legislature.
“Maryland families need help now, but instead the Governor is passing the buck to the legislature. The Governor knows that he has the power to authorize direct cash payments to those in crisis right now. He’s already tapped into the Rainy Day Fund to help small businesses and now he needs to help families survive,” Franchot said. “The thousands of Marylanders who are on the verge of homelessness, who are going to bed hungry every night, and who are accruing unsustainable debt cannot – and should not – wait one more day until their state government provides the help they desperately need. His plan doesn’t include assistance to struggling families and small businesses NOW.”
Hogan said funding for the relief package comes from budget savings, a budget surplus and a small portion of the Rainy Day Fund.