Maryland’s General Assembly Passes Incentive Bill Worth Billions to Attract Amazon

Maryland’s House of Delegates passed legislation early Wednesday designed to establish $5.6 billion in tax incentives to lure Amazon to Montgomery County.

The House’s approval of the Promoting ext-Raordinary Innovation in Maryland’s Economy, or PRIME Act, is written for any Fortune 100 company, but it comes just months after Amazon officials announced its top 20 city choices, out of 238 proposals, for its second headquarters.

Montgomery County was the only jurisdiction in the state that Amazon selected for its possible second headquarters.  If selected, Amazon expects to invest more than $5 billion in construction for the second headquarters and create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.

As the race to gain Amazon’s business between the 20 jurisdictions continues, Maryland lawmakers are hoping this bill could seal the deal.

“Having Amazon’s second headquarters in Montgomery County would bring so many benefits,” Maryland State Sen. Cheryl Kagan said. “For instance, in preparing for Amazon, we got guaranteed Metro funding that benefits Marylanders and tourists alike.”

Under the PRIME Act, qualifying businesses would be entitled to an income tax credit based on the number of jobs created; a tax credit against the State and local property tax imposed on the facility’s real property; and a sales and use tax exemption for specified purchases.

Opponents of the PRIME Act, however, said the incentive package is “too risky” and the state is putting too many eggs in one basket.

“While I’m all for growth, I want companies to pay their fair share,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director for Good Jobs First. “Fifty thousand jobs means we’re going to need more transit, more teachers and classrooms, trash pickups and none of these things are free. Amazon is not paying for it, and I and other taxpayers are going to get stuck with that bill.”

LeRoy said a community benefits agreement would be better so taxpayers are not harmed while Amazon pays its fair share.

Supporters of providing incentives to companies like Amazon said it would benefit the community in the long-run.

“People earning six figures will eat at local restaurants, shop at local malls and contribute to nonprofit organizations,” Kagan said.

Since the State Senate passed the measure in March, Wednesday’s approval by the House means the next step in the PRIME Act becoming a law is a signature from Gov. Larry Hogan.

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Mitti Hicks

About Mitti Hicks

Mitti Hicks is a multimedia journalist and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She is passionate about telling stories that impact our community and may be reached at MHicks@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter @mittimegan.

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