- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown released a $112 million plan Tuesday to grow Maryland’s economy over four years, if he becomes governor.

Brown, who is running in the Democratic primary, and his running mate, Ken Ulman, released the five-point plan. It focuses on using more public-private partnerships to pay for infrastructure and improving training for jobs in high demand. The lieutenant governor’s plan also calls for steps to grow the small and entrepreneurial business community and creating a more transparent government. He also wants to create a commission to study tax reform in the state in the first 100 days of a Brown administration.

“The Brown-Ulman jobs plan is designed to create jobs, spur economic growth and strengthen Maryland’s partnership with the private sector so that we can create the nation’s best business climate,” according to an executive summary of the proposal.

Brown is proposing to add $25 million to the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Fund, which provides capital for the state’s small and mid-sized businesses to acquire or build new real estate, equipment or working capital.

A commission would be formed to develop recommendations on how to reform the state’s tax code in the 2016 legislative session.

Steve Crim, campaign manager for Republican Larry Hogan, criticized the lieutenant governor’s plan in a fundraising letter, noting the number of tax and fee increases during the last seven years in Maryland. Hogan is running in the GOP primary in the state’s governor’s race.

Anthony Brown rips a page from his boss’s jobs playbook by proposing yet another blue ribbon panel,” Crim wrote.

Brown also is proposing to create a Maryland Small Manufacturing Tax Credit to help small and growing companies buy manufacturing equipment. He would allocate $20 million for the tax credit, with $5 million each year of four years.

Another part of the plan would further explore using public-private partnerships to pay for infrastructure. Brown, who led an effort to better define public-private partnerships in the state last year, wants to hire an executive director for those partnerships. He also wants to study the idea of creating an infrastructure bank to extend low-cost loans to local governments and better rates than they could borrow on the market. The lieutenant governor also wants to study the concept of forming a green bank, which enables the government to invest in energy efficiency and green technology projects in partnership with the private sector.

The plan would create a center to help connect businesses with workers. Brown would set aside $8.5 million over four years to pay for the center, with the expectation that it would become a nonprofit within four years. Brown also wants to pilot two Maryland Youth Apprenticeship Academies to provide young adults with skills, guidance outside the classroom and in the summer. The plan calls for spending $3 million in fiscal year 2016 for the initiative.

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