A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.
1. What Dan Cox, Wes Moore are planning for Maryland’s budget surplus
With a nearly $2 billion state budget surplus reported last month, a critical question for Maryland’s next governor is not going to be the common refrain of how to pay, but rather what to prioritize paying for. Republican candidate for governor, Dan Cox, said he would return the surplus to the people.
“We have $2.5 billion in tax relief that’s sitting in the treasury that needs to come back to the people,” said Cox, in an interview after the gubernatorial debate in Owings Mills on October 12. “Funding for our schools and education is a top priority, but we need to also give tax reliefs so that everyone who’s suffering right now has immediate relief.”
The Democratic candidate for governor, Wes Moore, said he would use the surplus to fill up some of the staffing shortages around the state in agencies and departments.
In an October 17 interview in Hagerstown, Moore said, “I want people to have long-term pathways for economic growth. We have a generational opportunity to not come up with quick ideas that will not have sustainable benefits. I want all families to have a chance for long-term economic growth and long-term economic success.”
2. Windfall tax on energy producers could backfire
Earlier this week, President Biden proposed a windfall tax on oil and gas companies. Specifically, he told energy corporations to either increase oil refining and producing capacities or face paying a tax on their excess profits. However, experts warn such a tax could backfire. Boston University professor Cutler Cleveland suspects that the windfall tax could deter new investment in oil production and impact the U.S. relationship with the world oil market.
Ahead of the announcement, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley issued the following statement:
“Experience proves that adding new taxes to punish companies actually hurts consumers. In this case it will raise gasoline prices by removing the incentive to produce and refine more oil. To lower our energy costs we need a long-term energy strategy focused on boosting production, not finger pointing.”
3. Maryland Tech Council names former state commerce and labor secretary new CEO
The Maryland Tech Council (MTC), the largest technology and life sciences trade association in the state, named the Honorable Kelly M. Schulz as its new CEO. Schulz was the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce, which is the state’s primary economic development corporation, from 2019-2021. At the Department of Commerce she was responsible for attracting new businesses, promoting innovation and accelerating job growth.
“As a technology business partner, lawmaker and economic development leader, Kelly possesses a rare combination of skills that make her an outstanding choice to lead the Maryland Tech Council,” said Todd Marks, Chair of the Maryland Tech Council. “Kelly’s success in both the private and public sectors will be key to helping our members succeed and continuing our organization’s growth. I want to thank Marty for his superb leadership of MTC these past four years. We are proud of all that he has accomplished and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Schulz will succeed Marty Rosendale who has chosen to step down after four successful years as CEO.
4. Weakening of intellectual property protections threatens Maryland’s innovation economy
In a new Baltimore Sun opinion, our President & CEO Mary D. Kane urges Maryland policymakers to prioritize policies that protect our local innovation ecosystem, including supporting strong intellectual property protections. Intellectual property (IP) is a critical asset for innovation, research and development across sectors. IP rights, including copyrights and patents, help defend original works and new inventions, ensuring that a company’s product is distinguishable from others.
Earlier this year, the World Trade Organization agreed to waive certain IP protections for COVID-19 related vaccines through the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver — a move that is not eliciting its intended effect of increasing vaccine production. Instead, waiving IP protections is harming the very industry that was able to rapidly and safely develop COVID-19 therapies and diagnostics.
5. Understanding America’s labor shortage
In 2021, businesses added an unprecedented 3.8 million jobs. But at the same time, workforce participation remains below pre-pandemic levels, meaning we have 3.4 million fewer Americans working today compared to February of 2020. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it’s clear that able workers are being overlooked or sitting on the sidelines. There’s not just one reason that workers are sitting out, several factors have come together to cause the ongoing shortage.
The U.S. Chamber surveyed unemployed workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic to understand what’s keeping them from returning to work. Twenty-seven percent indicated that the need to be home and care for children or other family members has made the return to work difficult or impossible. More than a quarter (28%) indicated that they have been ill and their health has taken priority over looking for work.
“MarylandSaves: What You Need to Know”
Tuesday, November 15
10 – 11 a.m.
What is MarylandSaves? As a business in Maryland, you need to know! Join us as we speak with Glenn Simmons of MarylandSaves about this program that requires eligible employers to establish a retirement savings plan for employees.