September 22, 2011

Rawlings-Blake says Obama bill would fight poverty

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake responded to a Census report Thursday showing growing poverty in Baltimore with another call to support President Barack Obama’s jobs bill.

“The Great Recession has hit America’s cities particularly hard with higher unemployment rates, and the tough economy has pushed more families into poverty,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “That is why Republicans in Congress must work now to pass the American Jobs Act.”

The Census reported Thursday that more than one in four Baltimoreans is living in poverty. That’s an increase of more than 20 percent in the last year.

Obama’s llegislation would cut payroll taxes for employers and employees and pump $100 billion of new infrastructure spending into the economy. It has met opposition from GOP lawmakers, who object to the payroll tax cut, the stimulus spending and Obama’s plan to fund it in part by raising taxes on the wealthy.

Rawlings-Blake joined mayors from across the country earlier this week to lobby Washington in support of the $447 billion package. They met at the White House on Tuesday with National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and senior advisor David Plouffe.

In her statement, Rawlings Blake said the American Jobs Act would “cut payroll taxes for Baltimore families — keeping more money in their paychecks; extend unemployment benefits for Baltimoreans looking for jobs; create new tax incentives for small businesses to create jobs; build or renovate thousands of new schools in America’s poorest school districts—immediately creating new construction jobs; and fund rehabilitation and demolition of vacant buildings in struggling neighborhoods.

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Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 2:48 PM | | Comments (6)

June 30, 2011

O'Malley calls state permit process a 'weakness'

Gov. Martin O'Malley called Maryland's often lengthy and confusing business permit process "one of the weaknesses of our state," this morning before signing an executive order aimed at easing it.

"Fast Track," he said, is supposed to help speed projects with significant economic impact in specific redevelopment areas -- so long as they would not adversely impact the state's environmental and Smart Growth goals.

Developers who qualify for Fast Track would be told up front whether their business plans have any chance at approval, or whether the state will fight "tooth and nail" against the project, O'Malley said.

The new program is part of an overall administration concept called Maryland Made Easy, which corrals state permitting and business approval information in one area. Noting that small businesses account for 85 percent of the jobs in Maryland, O'Malley said, "We understand that government is not the job creator. But it sets the conditions."

Bureaucratic red tape was a theme on the gubernatorial campaign trail last year, with Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. repeatedly criticizing the Democratic governor's "over-regulation" of private businesses.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 12:40 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Administration, Money and Business, jobs, jobs, jobs

June 15, 2011

Eastern Shore senator laments loss of chicken jobs

State Sen. Richard Colburn is sounding the alarm on the recent bankruptcy filing of a Delaware poultry company with operations on Maryland's Eastern Shore -- calling it "devastating" news for his district.

Allen Family Food's Cordova plant is Talbot County's second-largest employer, Colburn said, behind only the Memorial Hospital at Easton. The bad news comes as the Delmarva Poultry Industry prepares for its annual Chicken Festival this weekend in Georgetown, Del.

Seaford, Del.-based Allen filed for bankruptcy last week and announced plans to close its facilities in Maryland, Delaware and North Carolina, according to The 92-year-old company is seeking to sell assets to Mountaire, another Delaware poultry company.

The state Department of Business and Economic Development reports that about 500-600 employees work at the Cordova plant, not including farmers with Allen-contracted chicken houses.

Colburn, an Eastern Shore Republican, said in a statement that he does not believe Maryland's two other major poultry producers, Perdue and Mountaire, will take over any of Allen's chicken houses north of Route 301. 

"The Delmarva poultry industry has already been adversely affected by the economic recession, and the bankruptcy of Allen Foods will only hurt the industry even more," Colburn said in a statement. "Since Allen has long been a major employer on the Eastern Shore, the company’s bankruptcy will cause many Shore residents to lose their jobs."

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 3:20 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: jobs, jobs, jobs

November 18, 2010

MD holds ranking in new New Economy survey

Gov. Martin O'Malley amassed another feather in his economic cap today when the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation rated Maryland third in the country for "moving the country toward an innovation economy."

Ranking ahead of us are Massachusetts and Washington state. Maryland took the same place when the study was last published two years ago and was bested by the same two states.

The governor loves these types of studies, and sees them as evidence that he's successfully steering the state toward what he alternatively calls a "knowledge economy" or an "innovation economy." The idea is to woo high-tech, bio-tech and green energy firms with the belief that the captains of these industries value a highly educated workforce and decent infrastructure over cut rate taxes.

In the upcoming legislative session O'Malley will do something else the folks at Kauffman will probably like: introduce legislation that would establish a $100 million venture capital fund that the state -- or a non-profit -- would invest in new economy firms. The money would come from insurance companies forward paying their taxes, an idea that is already stirring ire from some in the House GOP caucus.

During the campaign, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. laid out a different economic vision -- one that involved chopping the state's sales tax and looking for ways to reduce the corporate income tax. O'Malley repeatably pointed out that many states with the lowest tax rates are also fairing poorly during the recession. 

Ehrlich had one other cheaper idea: Replace the heads of what he called "broken" state agencies. He would have re-made the Maryland Department of the Environment (developers say it takes forever to get a permit) and the state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (which served up a rare mini-scandal over the summer when staffers posted a downbeat economic narrative at odds with the governor's sunnier talking points.) Ehrlich lost by more than 13 percentage points.
Posted by Annie Linskey at 3:21 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: jobs, jobs, jobs

September 27, 2010

O'Malley joins Obama for jobs bill signing

Gov. Martin O'Malley was among Democratic leaders who joined President Barack Obama today at the White House for the signing of a bill aimed at helping small businesses.

O'Malley was invited because part of the federal bill -- a government guarantee of private loans to small businesses -- was patterned after a provision used in Maryland, according to aides to the governor.

The federal legislation will provide $1.5 billion to expand the capacity of small business loan guarantee programs that Maryland and 33 other states and U.S. territories now have, according to a statement from O'Malley's office.

“Maryland was pleased to play a role in helping to craft this legislation and working with our federal partners to move it forward,allowing our small businesses to once again focus on growing and creating jobs," O'Malley said in a statement.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 4:34 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: jobs, jobs, jobs

Ehrlich attacks DLLR handling of jobs report

Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. and the general assembly's two top GOP leaders this morning sought to put more pressure on the O’Malley administration by releasing a stack of emails they believe shows a coordinated effort to hide a negative jobs report.

“I want to tell you I’m angry,” said Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman. “Live on your record. Be held accountable on your record.” Kittleman and House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell are mulling a launching some type of formal inquiry -- the promised more details this afternoon.

The electronic messages show top staff at the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation attempting to do damage control after a downbeat jobs report was briefly posted on their website.

The erroneously posted report, titled “Maryland’s Market Stalls During July,” stayed online for several hours in August – long enough for a GOP party staffer to notice that it was markedly different in tone than the upbeat words Gov. Martin O’Malley was using to describe the state’s condition.

Writing to his communications director at 3:01 p.m. Aug. 20, DLLR Secretary Alex Sanchez asked: “Is it down? Call me as soon as we know who posted outrageous info on the site.”

Six minutes later Communications Director Bernie Kohn, a former editor at The Sun, replied: “It is down.”

Kohn later that afternoon emailed several other staffers: “Are we sure that removing that post removed all traces of it that anyone could pull up on a search engine? Whatever we can do to make it disappear, we need to do it. That’s coming straight from the top.”

Posted by Annie Linskey at 1:44 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: jobs, jobs, jobs

September 24, 2010

Jobs report, obtained by GOP, predicted problems

*** Updated to reflect new details about how GOP obtained the report. See end of post.

"Maryland's Market Stalls During July" was the header on a jobs analysis posted to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation web site last month. The Maryland Republican Party seized on the pessimistically worded document to call Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley to task at a time when he was touting uninterrupted months of jobs growth.

But the analysis was quickly removed from the labor department's web site -- even before the Maryland GOP had a chance to take a screen shot of it. Yesterday, the party obtained a copy, resurrecting the issue just as a new jobs report shows that, indeed, July was a bad month for jobs. And August was even worse.

When it was taken down last month, the "missing report" was replaced by a more upbeat summary. The numbers in the two web documents were identical, Labor Secretary Alexander Sanchez told The Sun at the time. Only the accompanying rhetoric changed.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 7:13 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: jobs, jobs, jobs
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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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