Lawmakers Call on Hogan to Provide $2 Million for Businesses Along Purple Line

Several Maryland and Montgomery County lawmakers gathered outside of Evita’s Bridal Shop in Takoma Park Monday, calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to provide funding for businesses along the Purple Line. Many of those businesses are immigrant-owned, and they face a unique financial challenge because of Purple Line construction and restrictions placed on businesses because of the coronavirus.

Kayleigh Gunnound, the executive director of Takoma-Langley Crossroads Development Authority, says Evita’s Bridal is one of six businesses in Takoma-Langley Crossroads that has closed permanently due to a combination of struggling from Purple Line construction and restrictions from the coronavirus. Evita’s was owned by a mother and daughter who now work three jobs to make ends meet.

Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Md. 20) led the press conference, saying, “We are here demanding…businesses impacted by the construction receive the support they deserve.”

Wilkins said the Maryland General Assembly set aside $2 million in the Fiscal Year 2021 funds intended to help businesses along the Purple Line. Wilkins estimates that more than 100 businesses have been “impacted by the Purple Line.” Even before coronavirus closures, Wilkins said the disruptions caused by Purple Line construction was negatively impacting these businesses.

Wilkins says Hogan has been “sitting” on the $2 million in funds since July. However, Mike Ricci, a spokesperson for Hogan, said in an email to MyMCMedia, “These funds are landlocked at the moment because the legislature has not created a grant program to distribute them. We recognize the predicament all of our local businesses are in as we navigate this unprecedented period, and we are working to provide relief through a number of recovery programs.”

Ricci offered a similar statement to the Washington Post. When asked about Ricci’s statement to The Post, Wilkins said the response was “an excuse coming from the governor’s office.” She said Maryland House Bill 540 explains in detail how the program would work.

“The governor’s administration has created programs specifically for businesses. They know how to do this,” Wilkins said.

Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart said, “We’re not getting the support we need from the state.”

Stewart said the city has offered mini-grants to help small businesses in the community but hasn’t been enough to keep the local businesses afloat. She said that before the pandemic, she’s tried working with Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), but she’s now “done being patient”

“We’ve been asking for years for assistance for these businesses because of the Purple Line construction and what we were told by the former secretary of transportation and MDOT was that they didn’t want to set a precedent for construction projects and provide assistance, financial assistance, to the businesses in this area,” Stewart said. “We are living in unprecedented times and we need to support our businesses first and foremost.

County Executive Marc Elrich spoke at the press conference and urged people to vote for Ballot Question 1, which he said would address the problem of allowing the state legislature to provide this type of funding.

Question 1 “authorizes the General Assembly, in enacting a balanced budget bill for fiscal year 2024 and each fiscal year thereafter, to increase, diminish, or add items, provided that the General Assembly may not exceed the total proposed budget as submitted by the Governor.”

By contrast, Hogan called Question 1 a “power grab.”

Elrich urged Hogan to make the $2 million available to the businesses along the Purple Line.

Related Post:

Maryland Federal Legislators, Activists Concerned About Purple Line Future

Hogan Calls Ballot Question 1 ‘Blatant Cash and Power Grab’; Supports Question 2

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