Gov. Martin O'Malley checked off a portion of his "jobs, jobs, jobs" agenda Thursday afternoon, putting his signature on a package of bills aimed at spurring job growth in his first bill-signing ceremony of the year.
Sitting at a long table with House Speaker Micheal E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, he approved a $5,000 tax credit for each unemployed worker that Maryland businesses hire.
O'Malley had proposed a $3,000 credit, but lawmakers bumped up that amount. Asked about the change, O'Malley said the approved credit "won't create as many jobs" because the total amount is capped at $20 million. But, he said "the ones it does create, it will create them a lot sooner."
Congress passed a similar $1,000 tax credit for businesses that hire out-of-work Americans. "That is even more encouragement for businesses to hire," O'Malley said. The federal legislation also lets employers write off a portion of Social Security taxes.
The governor also signed a reform of the depleted state unemployment insurance fund. The changes will make the state eligible for $127 million in federal stimulus money. Despite contentious debate, lawmakers were "able to pull together" leaders from business and labor groups who had been at odds, O'Malley said.
The final initiative allows car manufacturers to pay bonuses to retail dealers. "It makes it easier for people selling cars to get the compensation they've been promised by manufacturers," O'Malley said.