Gov. Larry Hogan Monday unveiled legislation that would provide more than $1 billion in COVID-19 relief.
The introduction of the legislation comes just two days before the 2021 legislative session is scheduled to begin.
“Today I am announcing our top legislative priority: The Recovery for the Economy Livelihoods Industries Entrepreneurs and Families, or the Relief Act of 2021-which will provide more than a billion dollars in immediate and targeted financial relief and tax cuts for Maryland working families, small businesses, and those who have lost their jobs and are suffering financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis.
Hogan added: “This stimulus and tax relief package will provide $267 million in direct payments to Marylanders in need. Families who filed for the earned income tax credit will receive an additional $750 and individuals will receive $450. This relief will go directly to more than 400,000 Marylanders in need and no application of any kind is necessary. These checks can begin going out immediately as soon as the legislative Relief Act is passed by the legislature and I sign it into law.”
Hogan said the legislation includes $180 million in additional tax relief by eliminating state and local income taxes on unemployment benefits and that it will provide $300 million in “immediate tax relief to help 55,000 Maryland restaurants and small businesses by allowing them to be able to keep up to $12,000 of sales tax over the next four months.”
Hogan said he is submitting the proposal as emergency legislation and that he will ask the legislature to pass it on the very first day of the session.
Hogan said that even though he and legislative leaders are in general agreement on the need to pass COVID relief legislation it is still possible that some disagreements over the proposal may arise.
Hogan said the money for the proposal will come from budget reduction actions taken by the Board of Public Works, and the state’s reserve fund and rainy day fund.
House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson said in a joint statement on Monday that they looking forward to working with Hogan on COVID relief and other pressing issues during the upcoming legislative session.
“We thank Governor Hogan for talking with us over the past several months to incorporate our priorities for COVID recovery into his proposal. The members of the General Assembly have spent the interim putting together legislation to fix a broken Unemployment Insurance system, protect essential workers, provide aid to struggling small businesses, and greater resources for family members in nursing homes. This Session, Democrats are focused on getting families and small businesses back on their feet; getting students back to school as soon as possible; and ensuring our seniors are safe so 2021 can become the year of rebuilding and recovery. 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.”
There are 309,686 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Monday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 6,129 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 8.56%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted more than 6.1 million COVID-19 tests.