President Obama visited a construction company in Rockville, Maryland yesterday to highlight the plight of businesses that are losing money because of the partial federal government shutdown. Meanwhile, Maryland's top financial officer says it's those businesses that are worrying him more than the loss of revenue to the state government.
Each day of the shutdown, the state of Maryland loses roughly $5 million, most of that coming from drops income tax collection because federal workers are not getting paid.
Most of the state's current projections are based on a potential two-week shutdown. But Comptroller Peter Franchot notes Congress will also soon battle of the debt ceiling, which could make things even worse.
"It's just a convergence of events. I describe it as a calamity meeting a train wreck. And it's less the effect on public budgets than the impact on the real Maryland economy that concerns me," he says.
Franchot hosted a regularly scheduled event in Annapolis focusing on tax credits small businesses can take advantage of from the Affordable Care Act, the law at the heart of the shutdown dispute.
Jamal Lee owns Bridge Productions in Laurel and was there to speak about healthcare, but he also voiced his frustration at the shutdown. Lee's company was to do a video shoot Tuesday with the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum, but it got cancelled, costing his business around $1,000.
"It's significant for us as a small business. Every dime that comes in is important to our bottom line. So, it didn't close our doors or anything, but if that continues, it will be an issue," he says.
Lee employes just eight people, adding he doesn't want to imagine the negative impact the shutdown is having on businesses that employ so many more.
Franchot notes that part of the problem is that Maryland is heavily dependent on the federal government. "However when it happens that we have a shutdown, we are put in a vulnerable position. Because unlike Virginia, we don't have the diversity of the private sector," he says.
He takes this criticism further, saying that fellow Democrat Governor Martin O'Malley's hasn't done enough to diversify the state's economy. "We've gotten lazy economically, and we've allowed ourselves to become over dependent on the federal government. So we need to diversify the economy and emphasize the private sector moving forward. But do we appreciate what the federal government does? I sure do," he says.
The State Board of Revenue Estimates says wages earned in Maryland by federal workers totals $25 billion dollars.