Maryland business leaders decry ‘doomsday’ cuts -- Gazette.Net


If legislators allow the so-called doomsday budget to take effect July 1, cuts to important life sciences programs and others will be devastating, Maryland business executives said this week.

Although legislators passed a fiscal 2013 operating budget before the General Assembly’s regular session ended last week, they did not approve bills that would have transferred funds, shared teacher pension costs with counties and raised taxes. That triggered a budget with $512 million in cuts that include education, the biotechnology investment and sustainable communities tax credit programs and the stem cell research fund.

If that stands, 20 to 25 biotechs around the state will struggle to raise capital, said Marty Zug, CFO of Sequella, a Rockville biotech. He said he was optimistic legislators will reconvene in a special session and fund the biotech investment tax credit program.

“The alternative is something nobody wants to live with,” Zug said. “Once they figure out where everyone can compromise, I think they will return.”

If the cuts are not restored, the impact on the life sciences industry would be significant, said Brian Levine, vice president of government relations for the Tech Council of Maryland.

“Policymakers know the biotech tax credit is an invaluable economic development tool that directly impacts investment and job creation,” he said.

His trade group is “hopeful and confident” legislators will reconvene and restore funding for the biotech investment program, stem cell research and other critical investments, Levine said.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) plans to meet with presiding officers of the General Assembly “in the coming days to see if a budget agreement is possible before considering a special session,” Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman for the governor, said this week.

The biotech investment tax credit program, which began in 2006, has an annual budget of $8 million worth of credits, which are awarded to investors in qualified biotechs. The budgets of the stem cell research fund and sustainable communities tax credit are $10.4 million and $7 million, respectively.