The American Rescue Plan Throws Maryland a Lifeline

Blog post by Christine Ross

Christine Ross, the president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, has 20 years of leadership experience in the business community. She is a visionary coalition builder guiding the Maryland Chamber’s efforts to improve competitiveness, attract and retain talent, grow jobs, engage the community and provide legislative advocacy.

The American Rescue Plan Act passed in early March with the promise of supporting struggling families and communities with direct relief. Included in the $1.9 trillion package is $360 billion earmarked for states, counties, cities and tribal governments to cover increased costs, replenish lost revenue and mitigate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

But what does this mean for us in Maryland?

Said Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D): “As the state’s chief fiscal officer, I’m doing backflips in Maryland thanking the federal government for doing the right thing…By November and December, I think the state’s economy will take off like a rocket.”

Music to our ears! The promise of mass vaccination and economic relief provides a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel for so many struggling families and business owners, but the pandemic is far from over. This relief could be the key to getting us through 2021 with our economy intact. Let’s dig a little deeper into how Maryland’s funds will be allocated.

Maryland, its cities and counties will receive $6.355 billion in aid which includes funds for emergency services, to distribute the vaccine, to employ frontline workers, for education and health monitoring, including remote options in response to the public health emergency. Here is a list of how the funds are specifically broken out by Maryland county and municipality.

To get our students safely back into the classroom, $1.95 billion of that total is earmarked for Maryland K-12 education and $549 million for Maryland’s institutions of higher education. $11 million will support Head Start funding in our underserved and most vulnerable communities.

Affordable childcare is also being addressed, including $194 million in Child Care Development Block Grants, $310 million in Child Care Stabilization Grants and $9 million in Child Care Entitlement to States funding. An increase in the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children will ease the burden for Maryland families who pay on average $15,335 annually for infant care and $10,254 for care of a 4-year old. In addition to these educational benefits it is estimated that the expansion of the Child Tax Credit will lift 52,000 Maryland children out of poverty and benefit 1.1 million children.

From our state aid pot, funds are also allocated to health care, transportation and public transport, area airports, housing and utility assistance, and nutrition. For more detail on the municipalities and facilities receiving this funding, review this breakout.

We are happy to see more relief being offered to our hurting businesses especially for the hardest-hit in our communities – small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color. Maryland revenue is down 30% from last year, and over 39,000 Maryland businesses have received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans totaling over $3.1 billion. This emergency program and others on the federal level will target our small businesses who need them most including an additional $7.25 billion for the PPP loans, $15 billion for the Targeted EIDL Advance Program, $28.6 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, $1.25 billion for Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program for live entertainment venues and $10 billion for the State Small Business Credit Initiative.

The American Rescue Plan is a behemoth and comes at a critical time when our economy needs to be stabilized and consumers given hope for the future. With careful oversight of the funds and accountability for money spent. this plan could prove to be the lifeline we’ve been waiting for.

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