Franchot advises 90-day ‘payment holiday’

Peter Franchot

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is seeking relief for the state’s small-business owners who are facing uncertain financial situations during the coronavirus crisis. He is asking them to call their landlords, banks, and other creditors to ask for a 90-day deferment from fixed-cost payments.

Many of the state’s wage earners are unable to work following the closure of Maryland’s non-essential businesses on Monday afternoon.
Mr. Franchot, the state’s chief fiscal officer, contacted the Dorchester Banner by phone to share details of his initiative. With the state heading into a very volatile health situation in the next two to three weeks, he said he is focused on the economic aftermath of the pandemic.

“We could have a 25, 30, 35 percent drop in state revenues,” Mr. Franchot said. “We could have 25 percent unemployment if we’re not careful.”
He said he had spoken on Wednesday to the head of the Maryland Bankers Association and learned of their support. “I would say 90 percent of them would say, ‘Yes,’” Mr. Franchot said. “But you have to ask.”

He offered his involvement if someone gets an unfavorable answer.
“If you get a negative response, please let me know,” he said. After his office receives the relevant details at, “I will call the entity,” Mr. Franchot said, to explain further the need for cooperation.
Time is of the essence, he said, because Marylanders can’t wait for money from the Federal government.

“Wealthy, successful people do this all the time,” Mr. Franchot said. “I’ve already done this for taxes,” having extended the state’s deadline by 90 days to July 15.

What’s needed now, he said, is cash on hand, more than any new loans. So, if citizens have not already sent taxes owed to the state, they should hold on to that cash until the later deadline, Mr. Franchot said.

He commended Gov. Larry Hogan’s aggressive leadership as the state has faced the world-wide crisis.

As for his advice to business owners, Mr. Franchot acknowledged that he does not have statutory authority to order a payment holiday, but that he would use his “bully pulpit” to advocate for the move.

“I really believe that most Marylanders feel loyal to small businesses,” Mr. Franchot said. “Speed, once again, is of the essence.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

Have a question about the coronavirus? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll ask the appropriate public officials.