ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — House lawmakers approved Tuesday an abbreviated version of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to establish a high-tech investment fund.
The House Ways and Means Committee voted 16-6 to advance the plan to the full House for consideration. The House version would give companies $100 million in tax credits for an estimated $75 million return to the state.
O’Malley, a Democrat, touted the measure as a cornerstone of his legislative agenda that would bring well-paying, high-tech jobs to Maryland. His original plan called for letting companies compete for $142 million in tax credits with plans of recouping $100 million.
Of that pool of money, two-thirds would be controlled by private investors and one-third by the state. O’Malley had sought a 50-50 split between private and state-run investment, but House lawmakers said they worked out the compromise measure with the administration.
House negotiators working with the O’Malley administration decided that putting more money in private control would be a better way to lure companies to the state.
“This would be a more effective way to get the big players in Maryland,” said House Majority Leader Kumar Barve, D-Montgomery.
The House measure also adds members to an advisory board to oversee the investments, who would be appointed by House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert.
Delegate Ron George, R-Anne Arundel, a small business owner in Annapolis, tried but failed to amend the bill to remove the state’s investment decisions from the Department of Business and Economic Development and place them with the quasi-public Maryland Technology Development Corporation. Still, the changes which removed some of the decision-making form the state’s hands make it “a much better bill,” he said.
The venture fund proposal is one of a handful of O’Malley’s key proposals still hanging in the balance as lawmakers rush toward the close of the 2011 session, April 11.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)