Governor Enters Session Prioritizing Job Creation, Training

Governor Hogan has announced a package of legislative proposals he will be pushing this session to incentivize manufacturing jobs and workforce training programs, specifically targeting parts of the state experiencing higher unemployment. The 2017 Maryland Jobs Initiative will provide incentives to create thousands of jobs and five million dollars worth of investment in education and workforce training, according to the Governor’s press release.

The More Jobs for Marylanders Act, the “centerpiece of the initiative,” would eliminate all state taxes for ten years for new and expanding manufacturing employers that create jobs in high unemployment areas. It also enables companies to accelerate the deductions of their capital assets to free up capital for investment in new technology needed to create the jobs of the future. Qualifying jurisdictions currently include Baltimore City and Allegany, Dorchester, Somerset, and Worcester counties.

The Administration also plans to open six new Pathways in Technology Early College (P-TECH) high schools throughout the state. P-TECH blends high school, college, and work experience into one program where graduates obtain a two-year associate degree in a STEM career field at no additional cost.

The Governor plans to spend one million dollars on a program that encourages employers to invest in employee training, and make three million dollars available in cyber job training grants. Finally, the package improves the existing Cybersecurity Investment Incentive Program by making tax credits accessible to investors in cybersecurity startups.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Hogan proposed a version of the manufacturing incentives bill last year, but it died in the General Assembly. This year’s bill eliminates the most controversial part of last year’s legislation: a provision allowing workers at new manufacturing companies to be exempted from paying state income tax for several years.

Existing manufacturing companies balked at that provision, saying their workers might flee to new companies to get the generous tax break.

Last year’s bill — including the income tax break for workers — would have cost the state a “significant” amount of revenue, according to a nonpartisan analysis by the state Department of Legislative Services. …

Sen. Roger Manno, a Montgomery County Democrat, sponsored a similar bill last year that also failed. He said Thursday he’s working on a new version for this year and has not discussed manufacturing incentives with the governor’s office. …

Manno said he’s tried to keep his bill nonpartisan. Of the state’s 47 senators, 43 co-sponsored his bill last year. Those sponsors included Democrats and Republicans.

Last session, MACo supported both the Governor’s and Senator Manno’s bills with amendments. Amendments sought on the Administration’s HB 450/SB 386 would have given local governments a more defined role in the designation of a manufacturing empowerment zone, established broader criteria to be used in the designation of the zone, and provided greater flexibility over the incentives drawn from local revenues – specifically, property tax credits. Amendments sought on Senator Manno’s HB 531/SB 181 would have expanded the definition of manufacturing and provided greater flexibility over the incentives drawn from local revenues. Under this bill, local governments determined the zones and applied to the Department of Economic Competitiveness and Commerce for the designation.

More information on MACo’s efforts on last session’s bills on Economic Development Tax Credit Programs is available here.