Under the bill establishing the governor’s Invest Maryland venture capital program, detailed information will be posted online about the funds and credits that the state has invested in a company, as well as what the state is getting out of it.
If Invest Maryland passes, the state would auction off $100 million in future tax credits to insurance companies, and use the proceeds estimated at $75 million to invest in Maryland tech companies. The program is to designed to provide capital for new business ventures that could help energize the state’s economy.
The bill requires the Department of Business and Economic Development to file an annual report with General Assembly committees. This report would include information on what firms have received money through the program and how much, what tax credits companies have gotten, and what jobs they have created or saved based on the funds.
At the end of spirited debate about the structure of the proposed program on Thursday, House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell made a motion to make all of that information easily available to the public from a link on the DBED website.
“This is intended to spread the sunshine and transparency,” O’Donnell said. “I believe the public has a right to know that information as well.”
Del. C. William Frick, D-Montgomery County, floor leader for the debate, said that the committee completely agreed with the amendment. Committee members had already expanded reporting requirements in the bill, Frick said, and he accepted it as a friendly amendment — a somewhat unusual move for a floor amendment from the GOP leader.
If this version of the bill becomes law, Invest Maryland will have easily accessed public information that is far more detailed than most of the state’s spending programs. Recent reports on government transparency have shown Maryland’s public records availability is often below par.
Delegate Frick and all legislators should know that just because there is transparency does not mean that the enterprise is right. FOOL ME TWICE, SHAME ON ME.