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Top Maryland finance official warns coronavirus could cause ‘prolonged, full-blown recession’

Andrew Schaufele, director of the Maryland Bureau of Revenue Estimates, said Thursday it’s unclear whether the novel coronavirus will cause a short economic hit or a “prolonged, full-blown recession.” Schaufele is shown in a 2018 photo.
Andrew Schaufele, director of the Maryland Bureau of Revenue Estimates, said Thursday it’s unclear whether the novel coronavirus will cause a short economic hit or a “prolonged, full-blown recession.” Schaufele is shown in a 2018 photo.(Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

Maryland’s Board of Revenue Estimates declined Thursday to make updated projections about how much in taxes the state will collect due to economic uncertainty caused by the spread of coronavirus.

The three-member panel of Comptroller Peter Franchot, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Maryland budget secretary David Brinkley voted unanimously to maintain the projections about the state’s budget made in December.

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Franchot said the projections “are meant to serve as a placeholder as we await to learn the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on our country and our state.”

Bureau of Revenue Estimates Director Andrew Schaufele says it’s unclear whether the virus will cause a short economic hit or a “prolonged, full-blown recession.”

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Maryland officials on Thursday reported the state’s first case of the new coronavirus unrelated to travel, indicating that COVID-19 is spreading from person to person in the community. The case, involving a Prince George’s County man in his 60s, is one of 12 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maryland.

Franchot said the impact of the virus on the state’s economy will be “significant, if not historic.”

“In the days and weeks ahead, a plethora of potential options to mitigate this pandemic should be considered,” Franchot said.

He urged the Maryland legislature to put on hold any plans to raise taxes to pay for the Kirwan Commission’s $4 billion annual education reforms due to the “panic and economic uncertainty” caused by the coronavirus.

“The last thing that Maryland families want or need now, in this heightened period of panic and economic uncertainty, is to see headlines about new tax or fee increases,” Franchot said.

The state’s general fund revenue projects will remain at $18.7 billion for fiscal year 2020 and $19.2 billion for fiscal year 2021.

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