A Maryland official this week has called for the state to step up COVID-19 relief and offer $2,000 stimulus checks to certain residents.
State comptroller Peter Franchot is pushing Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and other state officials to approve a $1 billion relief plan that would extract money from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, reserve funds or line of credit and give it to residents, Fox Baltimore reported.
Franchot emphasized that the Maryland Rainy Day Fund was “designed per its name for a crisis just like the one we’re in right now,” and is urging the state to distribute $750 million to its citizens and another $250 million to small businesses and restaurants.
“It’s not only raining outside,” he said, according to CBS affiliate WUSA9. “It’s also a tornado, a hailstorm, a hurricane and a tsunami all at once.”
Under the plan, Maryland residents who make $50,000 or less in a year will qualify for the $2,000 direct payment. Couples who collectively make less than $100,000 will also be given a check.
“The key thing with state aid is that we can get it to people. Federal aid is a bureaucratic maze,” Franchot said, according to Fox Baltimore.
The federal government approved relief legislation that gives $600 to certain individuals, but President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump hotel in DC raises room rates for Biden inauguration GOP lawmaker criticizes Trump, colleagues for ‘trying to discredit’ the election Video shows long lines on last day of early voting in Georgia MORE and others in Congress are requesting larger direct payments.
Earlier this week, Franchot shared a petition to the governor requesting use of the Rainy Day Fund, saying Hogan “should do everything in his power to prevent more of our small businesses from closing and more residents from losing their jobs due to an unavoidable virus.”
Millions of Marylanders are looking to Annapolis for help and for action, and we cannot — and we must not — let them down. Join us in urging the Governor to take action now ➡️ https://t.co/Gg6BwomxZf
— Comptroller Peter Franchot (@peterfranchot) December 28, 2020
Hogan has vowed to introduce a COVID-19 relief package in 2021 once the General Assembly meets, but has not released details.
Franchot acknowledged that there are arguments against using the Rainy Day Fund, including that the state uses the fund to keep its bond rating high, and Maryland could use it to pay for low budgets expected next year after the economic strain from the pandemic.
“There obviously are going to be uncertainties down the road and volatility in the economic recovery,” Franchot said, according to WUSA9. “All I’m suggesting is we have a higher priority right now.”