As Comptroller, Brooke will focus on ensuring that Maryland has a thriving economy with strong job growth. Brooke knows that good economic policy involves thoughtfulness and nuance. A flourishing economy must include strong main street businesses and scalable and growing startups. Maryland should be a state where entrepreneurs can create, grow, and keep their businesses. Their innovation is critical to generating economic growth and great jobs. Compared to many other states, Maryland lacks the investments and tools to support and grow companies at home and too much Maryland talent is drained out of the state.
As Comptroller, Brooke aims to maximize the efficiency and accountability of Maryland’s tax system. Brooke recognizes the Comptroller’s Office as more than just that of the tax collector. It also provides crucial services to individuals and businesses. In order to fulfill this role, the Comptroller’s Office must function at full capacity by attracting and retaining a well-trained, diverse staff who receive competitive salaries and benefits. Taxpayers and tax professionals rely on the services of the Comptroller’s Office to answer tax questions and receive timely returns. Brooke will advocate exempting the Comptroller’s Office staff from state hiring freezes so high quality services are always available. In the long-term, Brooke aims to increase training for staff members to build on existing tax-policy expertise, maintain top-notch customer service, and continue to advocate on behalf of taxpayers. Brooke will leverage her experience in the General Assembly to fight for full funding of the Comptroller’s Office and to recruit and retain a highly skilled and diverse workforce that reflects Maryland’s diverse population.
Maryland can work more cohesively in developing inter- and intra-governmental resources to support the infrastructure for job creation and corporate development. Brooke will ensure that the lines of communication between business and government are open and will prioritize educating the business community about existing state and local programs. As Comptroller, Brooke will provide incentives to coordinate resources for business across government agencies.
The Comptroller’s Office will push for the creation of a Small Business Portal that will provide small businesses with a single site for tracking their good standing with the State of Maryland, as well as a history of paid and outstanding taxes, debt, fines, and other related information.
While Maryland’s process for certifying minority, veteran, and women-owned business enterprises is the oldest in the country and is generally highly regarded, the process remains intimidating for many new business owners already experiencing barriers to successful entrepreneurship. It should not be overwhelming, cumbersome, or unduly time-consuming to request and receive the state’s confirmation that your business qualifies for its applicable certification. At the same time, no one benefits if the State’s certification process lacks sufficient rigor and unduly licenses undeserving businesses. Certification procedures are embedded within the Maryland Department of Transportation while oversight is implemented by the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority and Women Business Affairs and the state’s Chief Procurement Officer working for the Department of General Services. Maryland’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise certification process appears fractured. Brooke promises to prioritize focus on ensuring open and equitable access for all potential qualifying businesses to benefit from the state’s programs.
Brooke recognizes the importance of veteran entrepreneurs and veteran small business owners. She will focus on ensuring prospective veteran small business owners can thrive in Maryland by expanding outreach to veteran entrepreneurs; expanding training for veterans considering starting a business; and, as a member of the Board of Public Works, ensuring increased participation of minority, women and veteran-owned small business in state procurement at all levels.
Transforming raw products into goods to enhance their social value, shelf-stability, and profitability is the very essence of “value-added agriculture.” Whether via a process or physical change, unique marketing or public engagement, value-adding agricultural products brings greater profit to farms, staving off development and enriching rural Maryland. Yeast and flour become bread, fruit and grains become beer and wine, milk becomes cheese and ice cream, trees become furniture, corn becomes a corn maze, and an orchard becomes a pick-your-own.
Maryland’s Value-Added Agriculture industry supports close to 74,000 jobs and brings a total economic impact of over $20.6 billion annually to the state’s economy. This level of economic activity, in turn, adds nearly $875 million to the State’s fiscal resources (Value-Added Agriculture in Maryland: An Economic Analysis, 2020). The future is bright for Value-Added Agriculture in Maryland. Encouragement of the entrepreneurial spirit, reinforced by supportive policies, will help farms and related businesses succeed and thrive for generations to come.
Maryland needs bold, clear, and quantifiable goals around small business and start up development that our state can strive to achieve. As Comptroller, Brooke will propose an ambitious goal to grow new Maryland companies with 10 or more employees. She will work with organizations developing the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Maryland like TEDCO, universities, incubators, accelerators, state officials and more to build long-term, actionable plans for business support and development. Brooke will work with the Department of Commerce and other state agencies to ensure that Maryland’s resources, assets, and intellectual capital are marketed in ways that compel investment and retention, especially to meet early stage company needs. With the unique assets Maryland possesses, we can and should be a center for civic and social innovations.
Early stage start-ups need access to capital, incentives, and support to build in Maryland and stay in Maryland. As Comptroller, Brooke will support tax credits to incentivize companies to grow and stay in Maryland. There are a variety of very early stage seed capital investors and grants and significant downstream investors, but very little in the middle. As Comptroller, Brooke would propose offering tax incentives to new and expanding businesses that meet certain conditions, tie incentives to job creation, and partner with local institutions. Read more about Brooke’s plans for fair, competitive, and transparent tax policy.
As part of maintaining a diversified and healthy portfolio of investments, Maryland’s pension funds regularly invest in IPOs and venture funding but little effort is made to direct those investments into enterprises that are founded or are scaling in Maryland. As Comptroller, Brooke would call for legislation that would set up programs to direct a portion of pension investments into local startups and scaling businesses. Read more about Brooke’s plans for protecting our pension funds.