ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WDVM) — A showdown could be shaping up in the Maryland General Assembly over collecting stimulus benefits from the state.
Governor Larry Hogan’s $1 billion package targets low-income Marylanders with a Social Security number. Some would not be eligible, such as immigrants who file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) but are legally authorized to be in the state.
House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke has a bill in the Ways and Means Committee that would make benefits available to those here on employment or student visas, Cubans, Hatians and domestic violence survivors from abroad who have successfully sought refuge in the state.
“Here’s the simple truth,” said Luedtke (D – Montgomery County). “People are hurting regardless of their citizenship status. This program is the single best anti-poverty program that we have. We know it puts food in kids’ bellies.”
As the party flexes its political muscle in the legislature, Democratic Party State Chair Yvette Lewis is mobilizing the grassroots with a message of urgency for lawmakers assembled at the state capitol.
“This is a bipartisan package for the American people,” said Lewis. “The politicians may not agree but the American people do agree that we need this.”
Getting a veto-proof majority from her caucus is priority one.
“This package has to pass,” Lewis insisted. “It has been a year in March that we have been dealing with this. It is time for the talk to stop, it is time for the help to come, and that’s what the Democrats here in the General Assembly are doing.”
Majority Leader Luedtke is crafting a bill to get benefits in the hands of those qualifying for that earned income tax credit.
“I think you will see legislation passed by the end of this week,” Luedtke said, “to make all Marylanders who are eligible and work to be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit as they should be.”
Governor Hogan has said he would consider a bill that caps expanded benefits at $520 million in additional spending.
Majority Leader Luedtke said these “non-citizens” legally authorized to be in Maryland paid $100 million in state and local taxes last year.