By Donald C. Fry 

State funding for most key business-related development and financing assistance programs will be level funded or slightly reduced in FY 2016, according a quick review of available information as state lawmakers look to agree on a final budget over the last weekend of the 2015 General Assembly session.

State funding for research and development and biotech investment tax credits and technology transfer programs will remain the same as this year, while funding for assistance to small and minority businesses, stem cell research and rehabilitation of historic commercial properties will be slightly reduced.

Meanwhile, the newly-created Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative will receive $8 million to offer matching funding for private-sector contributions to create science and technology research endowments at higher education institutions. However, funding available for a state program for early-stage, high tech companies will be reduced to $15 million from $29.9 million budgeted in the current fiscal year.

As of April 9, House and Senate versions of the budget are in conference committee as lawmakers seek to iron out differences in the budget and to resolve issues with Governor Larry Hogan over funding education and a cost-of-living increase for state employees, among other things.

House members of the budget conference committee are Delegates Maggie McIntosh, Adrianne A. Jones, Tawanna P. Gaines, Anne R. Kaiser and Craig J. Zucker.  Senate conference committee members are Senators Edward J. Kasemeyer, Richard S. Madaleno, James E. DeGrange, Nancy J. King and George C. Edwards.

Following are status reports on proposed funding for eight other key business-related programs in the pending budget:

Meanwhile, proposed legislation to create a tax credit for angel investors that was strongly supported by the Greater Baltimore Committee, investors and entrepreneurs has not emerged from either the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, both of which held hearings on the proposal in February and March respectively.

The hearings drew strong support from angel investors and economic development professionals emphasizing the importance of this tax credit as a tool if Maryland wants to grow its innovation economy.

However, this year there is a plethora of tax credit bills and, this being the first year that the angel investment tax credit was introduced, it may be caught in the mass of requested tax credits amid a difficult budget session in a post-election year with a new governor and a bulk of new lawmakers.

The General Assembly is a decidedly incremental body. Many good ideas take more than a year to be approved. To paraphrase a quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger, “we’ll be back!” 

Donald C. Fry is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He is a regular contributor to Center Maryland.