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Maryland's comptroller wants to use state's rainy day fund for pandemic help

Peter Franchot wants to give Marylanders $2,000 each and help to small businesses

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Should a state use its rainy day fund to help with economic relief in the pandemic? That is what one of Maryland’s top officials has called on the state to do.

State comptroller Peter Franchot has gone on the record about the state of Maryland’s economy.

“It's not only raining outside,” Franchot said. "It's also a tornado, a hailstorm, a hurricane, and a tsunami all at once,”

He thinks that is the perfect analogy to explain why he wants to tap into the state’s rainy day fund.

“It is designed per its name for a crisis just like the one we're in right now,” he said.

According to Franchot, Maryland’s fund has somewhere north of $1.2 billion in it. He is asking the governor and legislature to use $750 million of that to give individual Marylanders a $2,000 check.

But it wouldn’t be for every Marylander.

To qualify, you would have to earn $50,000 or less a year as a single filer; or $100,000 or less a year as a couple.

He also wants to give $250 million to small businesses.

“But I think it would be a very, very strong shot in the arm to low wage earners. Who right now face eviction,” Franchot said. “They can't pay the rent; they face hunger because they can't buy food. They face medical problems because they don't have any money to go see a doctor.”

We reached out to Governor Larry Hogan about the plan.

His office responded saying:

“In addition to the $600 million in emergency economic relief the state has provided, he will pursue a larger stimulus relief package when the General Assembly returns for the 2021 session.

Franchot is hoping that plan includes using the rainy day fund for Marylanders.

He explained the opposition to his proposal is two-fold.

First, the rainy day fund is used to keep the state’s bond rating high for borrowing money. Second, the fund could be used to pay for state budget short falls next year from this year’s economic stress.

“There obviously are going to be uncertainties down the road and volatility in the economic recovery,” Franchot said. “All I'm suggesting is we have a higher priority right now.”

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