Two representatives of the Maryland Competitiveness Coalition were critical of the state’s public policies that deal with issues such as private business at a breakfast meeting Wednesday.
At the same time, they praised Maryland’s emphasis on such areas as education during the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues breakfast at the Ramada Plaza.
The chamber is a partnering organization of the coalition.
Kathy Snyder, president and chief executive officer of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, and Tom Lynch, principal of Miles & Stockbridge in Frederick, Md., partnering organizations of the coalition, spoke about the coalition to local business leaders.
The Maryland Competitiveness Coalition is an organization of business leaders across the state who want to communicate specific priorities to elected officials, candidates and the public. One of its major priorities is bringing to light what it says are the difficulties businesses face in the state.
“Maryland has a reputation, that’s frankly well-earned, of not being hospitable to private business,” Lynch said, noting the state has an 8.25 percent corporate tax rate.
Lynch said after the meeting that the state has “a tax policy for corporate income tax which is unattractive compared to surrounding states.”
Although the corporate income tax rate is higher in Maryland than in Virginia and West Virginia, it is lower than the rates in Pennsylvania and Delaware, according to resources on those states’ websites.
The corporate tax rate is 6 percent in Virginia and 7 percent in West Virginia. It is 9.99 percent in Pennsylvania and 8.7 percent in Delaware.
The state’s new septic system regulations and its focus on wind energy were topics of criticism, while the effects of the sequester on Frederick Municipal Airport and Hagerstown Regional Airport were highlighted when the state’s reliance on federal resources was discussed.
On the other hand, Snyder noted the state’s emphasis on education, including a No. 1 ranking for the fifth year in a row in a listing published by Education Week, as well as its high median income levels.
Snyder brought up the coalition’s support for an improved transportation system across the state, which the Maryland Chamber of Commerce also has worked on.
Brien J. Poffenberger, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said the coalition is nonpartisan and does not “point fingers.”
“The question is, we’re in the second decade of the 21st century, so how do we increase Maryland’s competitive edge, are there things we are doing that we shouldn’t be doing, are there things that we’re not doing that we should be doing,” he said. “It’s really looking forward and not backward.”