Rutherford, Franchot Announce New Help for Small Businesses

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) at the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference last year. Photo by Danielle. E. Gaines

Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford (R) and state Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) used Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting to announce separate relief programs to help Maryland’s struggling small businesses.

Rutherford, leading the twice-monthly meeting in Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s stead, said Hogan had signed an executive order enhancing the state’s Small Business Reserve Program to give small companies an advantage during bidding for certain government procurement contracts.

Specifically, the order mandates that all bids for state government procurement contracts valued between $50,000 and $500,000 must come from small businesses rather than large corporations.

Under the executive order, the Office of State Procurement and the Governor’s Office of Small Minority & Women Business Affairs will implement guidelines and policies to implement this policy.

“Small businesses will lead our economic recovery and we’re doing what we can to help them during this time of challenge,” Rutherford said during the BPW meeting.

Moments later, Franchot, the state’s tax collector, announced that his agency has extended filing and payment deadlines for certain Maryland business taxes and quarterly estimated income tax returns and payments that would ordinarily be due in January, February and March until April 15, the annual tax deadline.

Businesses and self-employed individuals or independent contractors with estimated income tax payments due on Jan. 15 also will be granted an extension until April 15, Franchot said.

The comptroller described this period of tax forbearance as “a direct and immediate economic stimulus for Maryland businesses and workers” and said it would provide savings of between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

The action is similar to a tax extension the comptroller’s granted last year to businesses during the early days of the pandemic.

Franchot has been agitating for months for the state to make a large chunk of its Rainy Day Fund available for small business relief. Last month Franchot and some local politicians helped stand up a group called Maryland United for COVID Relief Now to lobby for the extra funding.

Relief for poor Maryland families

In a separate announcement, Hogan said Wednesday that Maryland food stamp recipients will receive a 15% increase in their total benefits beginning this month thanks to recently-passed federal relief legislation. In addition, as part of the state’s emergency economic relief measures, Maryland’s Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) families will receive an additional $40 million in benefits, he said.

“These increased benefits come at a critical time for Marylanders struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hogan said in a statement. “However, more still needs to be done, including by Congress, to help our economy and our workforce.”

In Maryland, an eligible household of four will see an increase in their maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program monthly benefit ― more commonly known as food stamps ― from $680 to $782, an additional $102 per month, for the next six months.

As part of the governor’s most recent additions to the state’s emergency economic relief package, TCA families will receive an additional $40 million in benefits, equivalent to $100 per household member for each of the next six months.

“This is a very significant benefit assistance to our families and comes at a time when the need for assistance has reached record levels,” said Lourdes R. Padilla, secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Services.

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.