Maryland’s local, independent businesses are the lifeblood of our state’s economy and the pillars of their communities.
Having spoken directly with more small business owners over these past few days than I can count, I can assure you that, in the absence of extraordinary action, far too many of them are going to go under as a result of the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic.
The actions that have been proposed to date simply aren’t enough. To survive the next 45-60 days, these businesses need cash to pay their employees, their vendors, their landlords and the banks. I believe it is imperative that the State of Maryland borrow, AT A MINIMUM, $500 million from the State’s Rainy Day Fund and push it out the door as quickly as humanly possible to these business owners. Because, quite honestly, they don’t even know how they’re going to survive the next few days without customers or cash flow.
In that same vein, I also believe that Congress must act now to enact its own federal stimulus relief package for these small businesses. I cannot overemphasize that SBA loans are not nearly sufficient here – these businesses don’t need loans. They need cash on the barrelhead, as they say, simply to get through the coming days and weeks. I don’t want to hear that we cannot afford it.
Just in the years that I’ve served as your Comptroller, I’ve seen our state and federal governments shovel cash to the big banks, to the big auto makers, to the airlines, to Amazon and to gambling casinos. You will never, ever convince me that we cannot and should not stand up now and make a game-saving investment in those local businesses that employ our neighbors and families, support other small businesses and put their names on every charitable and civic cause in their communities.
The loss that is suffered every time a small business closes in a community is severe and long-lasting. The decimation of our small business sector in the State of Maryland and in the United States would, I believe, catapult us into the worst economic climate since the 1930s. We cannot and must now allow this to happen. We must act now.