Some private businesses would be required to report where they spend the state's money and how many jobs they spin out of the state's cash, under legislation passed by the House of Delegates on Thursday.
The House voted 132-0 to pass House Bill 1086, a bill introduced by Del. Herb McMillan, R-Annapolis. The bill would require businesses that receive at least $50,000 in state aid to file a disclosure report.
The disclosure report, which would be posted online each year, would be required to include how much money the business receives from the state in the form of loans, loan guarantees, fee waivers, matching funds, tax abatements, tax exemptions and tax credits. The report would also say how much business' top executives make per year, where the state money businesses received was spent and an employment report.
A similar bill passed the House unanimously last year on the final day of the General Assembly, leaving it little time to be considered by the Senate.
The Maryland Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill, arguing it "places an undue burden on businesses which receive an amount of "subsidy" from the state." But McMillan said state lawmakers need to know what they're getting out of the money they dish out each year.
"If you're going to make me your business partner, I have a right to know how well my investment's working out," McMillan said.
Under current law, Maryland provides some information when its money goes to private businesses, according to the Department of Legislative Services.
The Comptroller's 2013 Guide to Maryland Business Tax Credits lists 25 different tax credits available to individuals and businesses. But the number of individuals or businesses who claim each credit is not available.
The Department of Budget and Management's website has a searchable database called the "Finance Tracker," which lists 661 recipients of loans, grants, and other financial assistance administered by DBED for fiscal 2009 through 2013.
Also, a law enacted in 2008 required DBED to develop a website that includes information on state payments of at least $25,000. It provides information on the hundreds of individuals and companies that contract each year with the state to provide goods and services, but does not include some of the types of payments required to be disclosed in McMillan's bill.
According to DLS, McMillan's proposal won't cost much, if anything. In the bill's fiscal note, DLS says the state Department of Information Technology could use existing resources to develop a single database, accessible from each agency's state website.
But the Maryland Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill. The Chamber say the legislation's requirements would "dissuade" businesses from attempting to apply for subsidies.
"This legislation is an example of a bill which will make Maryland less business friendly when compared with other States and will negatively affect the State's ability to attract and retain businesses," the Chamber says on its website, explaining its opposition.