A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.
1. New bipartisan deal is reached on nearly $1 trillion infrastructure package
Yesterday, a bipartisan group of 10 Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a new deal on infrastructure, agreeing to nearly $1 trillion in spending over the next five years to improve the country’s roads, bridges and internet broadband. The new plan is an attempt to resurrect a weeks-long negotiation between congressional lawmakers and the White House that fell apart. The details of the deal have not been released but anonymous sources say the agreement calls for about $974 billion in infrastructure spending and roughly $579 billion in new spending, which comes to about $1.2 trillion when extrapolated over eight years. The plan does not include any new tax increases to finance the spending, but it does appear to wade into politically fraught territory by proposing changes to the gas tax.
Read the full story here.
2. Bipartisan Senate passes bill to boost technology industry, counter rivals
On Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill, that if it becomes law, would boost the U.S. semiconductor production and the development of artificial intelligence and other technology in response to growing international competition, most notably from China. The bill would allocate $50 billion to the Commerce Department to spend towards technology development and manufacturing through incentive programs previously authorized by Congress. The bill’s overall cost would increase spending by about $250 billion, with most of the spending occurring in the first five years.
“As other countries continue to invest in their own research and development, we cannot risk falling behind. America must maintain its position as the most innovative and productive nation on the Earth,” said President Biden shortly after the bill’s passage.
Read the full story here.
3. Maryland’s Economy is among the best in the nation, study finds
WalletHub released a report listing Maryland among the top ten states with the strongest economies in the nation. It showed that Maryland’s economy ranked 7th, with Utah ranking first and Hawaii last. The study used data compiled by U.S. government agencies such as the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis and was based on three criteria: economic activity, economic health and innovation potential. Maryland Chamber Federated Partner the Frederick Chamber of Commerce attributed Maryland’s top-tier rank to the high concentration of federal jobs in the state. Federated Partners the Howard County Chamber of Commerce and the Washington County Chamber of Commerce also weighed in, read their comments on MD’s post-pandemic recovery here.
4. Maryland launches COVID-19 vaccine grant program
On Monday, Governor Hogan announced the state health department’s new initiative to award grants ranging from 50,000 to $250,000 to local community groups for vaccination and outreach efforts. Applications from groups focusing on targeted zip codes with low vaccination rates will be prioritized, such as zip codes in Baltimore City and County, Prince George’s, Allegany, and Washington counties. Thus far, Maryland has reported that 71% of adults have received at least one vaccine dose, and nearly half are fully vaccinated. But in some areas, like Baltimore City, less than 40% of adults have been fully vaccinated.
5. As COVID-19 cases decline, Maryland hospitals see return to normal operations
As COVID becomes less of a challenge, hospitals are returning to more normal, pre-pandemic operations. For over a year, the medical needs of non-COVID patients have not been met, with many people avoiding hospitals out of fear of contracting the virus. As of June 2, the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals fell from almost a quarter of all patients to 5%, and the number of non-COVID patients rose 13.4%. Many hospitals remain vigilant as the fall approaches, because there is the potential for COVID cases to rise again and for a major resurgence in flu cases.
Webinar: Architects of Opportunity | Maryland Chamber Foundation Teacher Externship Program – Join us on June 23 at 11 a.m. for a webinar discussion led by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond as they explore how bridges are built between educators and Maryland businesses to help shape the workforce of the future.