As Year Ends, Comptroller Peter Franchot Warns Maryland Taxpayers of Tax Phone Scams

Taxpayers Advised Not to Respond to Scam Calls, Open Email Attachments

Annapolis, Md. (December 30, 2014) – As 2014 comes to an end, Comptroller Peter Franchot is alerting taxpayers about phone solicitation scams aimed at getting taxpayers’ money and personal information.

The Comptroller’s Office recently received a call from a concerned couple about a phone call they received from someone claiming to be an IRS agent saying they owed back taxes and demanding immediate payment. The caller said if the couple didn’t comply, he would call the police and they would face criminal charges.

“I strongly urge all Maryland taxpayers to be very careful in giving out their personal information over the phone,” Comptroller Franchot said. “The Comptroller’s Office does not initiate phone calls or emails asking for confidential information or for Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). We never ask for payments to be sent via Western Union. If you get a phone call or email like this, please call 1-800-MD-TAXES or email my office at mdcomptroller@comp.state.md.us and let us know about it as soon as possible.”

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers five tell-tale warning signs to tip citizens off if they get such a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. Scammers often demand money to pay taxes. They try to con people by saying they’re due a tax refund so they can gain access to banking or other private financial information. Scam artists can sound convincing when they call and may alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They may use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. The IRS respects taxpayer rights when working out payment of taxes.

Here are five things scammers often do but the IRS will NOT do. The IRS DOES NOT:
• Call to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call without first mailing you a bill.
• Demand that you pay taxes without giving you an opportunity to question or appeal the amount that is owed.
• Require taxpayers to use a certain payment method, such as a prepaid debit card.
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
• Threaten to notify local police or other law-enforcement agencies to have a taxpayer arrested for not paying.

Media Contact:  Michelle Byrnie-Parker, 410-260-6346 (office) 443-336-0215 (cell)

Statement of Comptroller Peter Franchot Regarding Updated Revenue Estimates

Annapolis, Md. (December 15, 2014) – The Board of Revenue Estimates met today to write down revenue estimates for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016 by more than $271 million. Comptroller Peter Franchot, as chairman of the Board, released the following statement:

“We convene today to write down the revenue projections for the State of Maryland for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016 by more than $271 million, on top of the $405 million write down that occurred in September.

“Far more important than what this means to the drafting of our state budget, or the effect it will have on the upcoming Legislative Session, is what this says about the budgets of Maryland families and small businesses. It’s yet another reminder that we haven’t turned the corner from the worst economic downturn in our lifetimes and that we continue to experience one of the slowest and most anemic economic recoveries that any of us have ever seen.

“Unemployment remains at historic highs by Maryland’s standards and like our unemployment rate, many of the positive economic signs being experienced in the national economy aren’t being felt here in Maryland. Employment growth in the country has grown 1.8% this calendar year, compared to just 0.6% in Maryland. Total wage growth in our state has grown just 1.5% in 2014, while the national rate of growth stands at 4.5%.

“Given these figures, it should come as no surprise that this report contains a reduced outlook for income tax withholding growth, costing nearly $144 million in total for this fiscal year and Fiscal Year 2016. Year-to-date withholdings in the current fiscal year alone fell $54 million below our already low expectations, which has caused us to further temper our projections moving forward.

“Not only does this represent less growth than we had hoped, but it shows that wages – which represent the oxygen middle class families need to survive – are struggling to even keep pace with inflation. The bottom line is that we’re experiencing the downside risk of an economic model that’s predicated on federal spending, rather than a robust private sector.

“Rather than building a diversified state economy, we’ve effectively put all of our eggs in one federal basket, and we’re seeing the immediate and direct economic impact of that approach. We need to accept that this has become our new normal, and it requires a new economic model.

“While the federal government has always been, and certainly remains, a major economic advantage, our over-reliance on the “business of government” carries significant risks. We can embrace our proximity to Washington as a strength without depending on it as our sole basis for economic stability. The fact remains that we’ll only see the economic growth we’re accustomed to when we get the private sector economy growing.

“In our consumer-driven economy, we’ll never build a lasting recovery when consumers don’t feel comfortable enough to spend and businesses lack the confidence to hire, invest and grow. That will only happen if we provide a sense of predictability for Maryland families and small businesses. If we can do that, there is some cause within this report for cautious optimism that we can build from.

“With gas prices down, consumers have been able to keep more of their discretionary income – and we’re seeing that reflected in the sales and use tax figures, which we’re projecting up to about 4.6%, recognizing that this figure includes the impact of Amazon’s physical presence in Maryland. Now that’s not necessarily a return to normal, but it is a clear step in the right direction.

“Whether it’s a temporary indicator or a more prolonged trend is an important question, and although we can’t answer it on our own, as state policymakers, we can help by not doing harm to consumer confidence. That means being smart in how we spend taxpayer dollars, recognizing that to invest in the things we need, we have to forego many of the things we simply want.

“We can’t assume that we’re around the corner from returning to the way things have been in Maryland. We have to be more forward-looking about how we borrow money as a state because we simply can’t sustain our current patterns of debt accumulation without provoking actions that could do further harm to an already fragile economy.

“As we all know, a sustained economic recovery is going to come down to jobs, both here in Maryland and throughout the nation. If we can maintain a cautious mindset and provide a sense of predictability to families and small businesses, Maryland’s economic bones are strong enough and our citizens are resilient enough to withstand this write down and the economic challenges it represents.”

Revenue – Table – Dec 14

Media Contact: Andrew Friedson, (410) 260-7060 (office), 443-414-3083 (cell)

Comptroller Franchot to Shop Maryland for the Holidays at Local Shops and Stores

- Statewide Holiday Tour to Promote Support for Local Retailers and Eateries -

Annapolis, Md. (December 2, 2014) – With Thanksgiving Day a delicious memory, Marylanders are busy checking off items on their holiday shopping lists. Comptroller Peter Franchot once again is encouraging residents to Shop Maryland for the Holidays as he begins his 2014 shopping tour at locations throughout the state.

“Holiday time is about being with good friends, family and the communities we call home. What better way to promote holiday cheer and goodwill than shopping in the many terrific local shops and businesses in the places we live,” Comptroller Franchot said. “By shopping at local businesses, you support the more than 500,000 Marylanders employed in our state’s retail sector.”

The Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) says this holiday is important to retailers in communities throughout Maryland.

“Retailers depend on shoppers during the holidays. It is their busiest time of year,” said Patrick Donoho, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. “Retailers appreciate the support and give back throughout the year by supporting local activities, providing employment and paying taxes. MRA urges consumers to shop locally for their holiday needs to support the people employed there — who may be family, friends or neighbors — and to show their the support for those retailers who provide so much to the community.”

Hyattsville (Prince George’s County), Bethesda, (Montgomery County), Easton (Talbot County) and Cambridge (Dorchester County) are among the first of many planned stops on the Comptroller’s annual tour promoting local retailers and community shopping areas. He also will visit merchants in restaurant owners in Annapolis (Anne Arundel County), Baltimore City, Catonsville (Baltimore County), Cumberland (Allegany County), Hagerstown (Washington County) and Prince Frederick, (Calvert

County). In past years, the Comptroller has also shopped in, Ellicott City, Hunt Valley, Leonardtown and Salisbury.

Comptroller Franchot also reminds consumers that in-state shopping puts citizens’ hard earned money back into their communities and supports local businesses that employ friends and neighbors. He also believes “shopping locally gets consumers the best product, service and experience for their dollar.”

For those who prefer to shop from home, the Comptroller reminds Marylanders to support local store owners by making sure you buy from a Maryland business website.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Barbara Sauers, (410) 260-7438 (office), (410) 212-9414 (cell)

Comptroller Franchot Hears from Business and Industry Leaders on Maryland’s Economy

- BRE Chairman Takes Pulse of the Maryland Economy at Forum in Annapolis -
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (November 20, 2014) – Comptroller Peter Franchot, as chairman of the Board of Revenue (BRE), heard from several business and industry leaders Thursday at an Economic Advisory Forum he convened at the Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building in Annapolis. The purpose of the forum was to take the pulse of Maryland’s economy to understand current conditions in private sector industries throughout the state which the BRE can evaluate as it prepares the December Revenue Forecast.

The Comptroller was joined by fellow board members Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, Secretary of Budget and Management T. Eloise Foster and BRE Director Andrew Schaufele, who also is executive secretary to the board.

“I strongly believe the BRE can only accurately project state revenues with the active participation and partnership of the private sector,” Comptroller Franchot said. “Maryland’s total labor force is down almost a full percent in the first eight months of this calendar year while the national labor force has grown. Maryland’s unemployment rate, which traditionally paces the national rate, is worse than the national unemployment rate for only the third time in more than 30 years.”

Comptroller Franchot said personal income growth in the state is 1.5 percent behind the national average, while wage growth is behind by 3 percent. He also noted that wages, which he referred to as the “oxygen middle class families need to breathe,” have actually gone down by a half percent.

“Including the private sector in the revenue estimating process is so important to help us understand the overall context of our current situation and offers a practical complement to the numerical data,” the Comptroller said. “We have a real opportunity to come together to make the adjustments needed to improve our state for families and small businesses.”

Panelists representing banking and financial services, automotive, restaurant, brewery and retail establishments, real estate, manufacturing, distribution and transportation industries testified on what they are seeing, hearing and expecting by year’s end.

The panelists included the following:

Banking and Financial Services: Eric Brotman, founder and CEO of Brotman Financial Group Inc.; Clarence Campbell Jr., area president, senior vice president of Well Fargo Bank; and Kevin Kesecker, vice president of lending at SECU.

Consumer Behavior: Patrick Donoho, executive director of Maryland Retailers Association; Shawn Harm, owner of Fish Tales Restaurant; Gerry Murphy, vice president and general counsel of Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association; and Hugh Sisson, founder and owner of Heavy Seas Beer.

Real Estate: Bonnie Casper, Realtor of Long & Foster and GCAAR; Clarence Horst, broker and owner of Coldwell Banker Innovations; and David Hillman, founder and CEO of Southern Management Corporation.

Manufacturing, Distribution and Transportation: Betty Buck, president of Buck Distributors; Rick Huether, president and CEO, Independent Can Company; Stephen Neal, president and CEO, K. Neal Holdings Inc.; and Harry Halpert, president and CEO, Hoffberger Holdings Inc.

MEDIA CONTACT: Barbara Sauers, (410) 260-7438 (office), (410) 212-9414 (cell)

Comptroller Reminds Taxpayers: “Less than Two Weeks Until Filing Extension Deadline”

- Taxpayers Have Until October 15 to File 2013 Returns -

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (October 1, 2014) – Comptroller Franchot today reminded taxpayers of the upcoming October 15 deadline for those who filed for an extension on their 2013 Maryland personal income tax return. He also reminded last minute filers of the simplicity, swiftness and safety of electronic filing.

“I encourage every taxpayer to consider filing electronically,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot. “E-filing is the fastest, easiest and safest way to file a return. Best of all, if you choose direct deposit, you’ll get your refund in only a few days.”

The Comptroller also reminded taxpayers that his office provides free in-person tax preparation at offices across the state.

“My office continues to offer free assistance to taxpayers in preparing state income tax returns,” Comptroller Franchot said. “I urge Marylanders to use this service at one of the agency’s 12 branch offices located throughout the state. Simply bring a completed federal return, all W-2 statements and supporting documents and my staff will complete a state return and file it electronically.”

Taxpayers who filed for an extension on a federal return and didn’t owe state taxes are automatically granted a six-month extension for a state return. No request for an extension will be granted for more than six months, unless a taxpayer is currently out of the United States, in which case an extension of up to one year may be requested.

For the most up-to-date information on filing tax returns, or answers to other questions visit the Comptroller’s Website or call the agency at 410-260-7980, in Central Maryland, or 1-800-638-2937, toll-free from elsewhere, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from October 1 through October 15.

MEDIA CONTACT: Barbara Sauers, (410) 260-7438 (office), (410) 212-9414 (cell)

Comptroller’s Agents Arrest NY Man for Second Time in Cigarette Smuggling Bust

- Istavan Attila Nemeth stopped on I-81 near I-70 in Washington County -

Annapolis, Md. (September 30, 2014) – Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that members of his Field Enforcement Division arrested a New York man for the second time in three years who is alleged to have brought contraband cigarettes across state lines, from Virginia into Maryland. The man was arrested September 19 during a Cigarette Interdiction Operation at the Maryland/Virginia State Line in Washington County. Agents seized the man’s cargo van and 1,400 packs of contraband cigarettes. The seized cigarettes are valued at $9,030.

“This type of large-scale cigarette smuggling unfairly hurts honest, law-abiding retailers, and even more importantly, if left unchecked, the contraband often ends up in the hands of under-age children,” said Comptroller Franchot. “As always, we will continue to keep contraband off our streets and out of the reach of kids by prosecuting this repeat smuggler to the fullest extent of the law.”

Istavan Attila Nemeth, 69, of Sunnyside, N.Y., was arrested and faces a felony charge of willful transportation of unstamped cigarettes and a misdemeanor charge of willful possession, sale or offer to sell unstamped or improperly stamped cigarettes. The felony carries a mandatory fine of $150 per carton and Mr. Nemeth also may be subject to jail time not exceeding two years. The misdemeanor charge carries a penalty of a $1,000 fine and possible imprisonment not exceeding one year in jail.

Following his arrest, Mr. Nemeth was taken before a Washington County District Court Commissioner where he was formally charged. He was placed on $10,000 bond and remains lodged in the Washington County Detention Center.

Agents stopped Mr. Nemeth’s 2000 Ford F150 cargo van displaying New York tags on Interstate 81 near Interstate 70 in Washington County. This is the second time police have had contact with Mr. Nemeth. On December 31, 2011, a deputy for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office stopped a vehicle on Route 13 near Whaleyville Road in Bishopville. The vehicle was occupied by three people, including Steven Atilla Nemeth (aka Istavan Attila Nemeth). All occupants were arrested and 5,910 packs of contraband cigarettes were seized. The Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Agents responded, assisted with the arrest and charged each person with willful transportation of unstamped cigarettes and willful possession, sale, or offer to sell unstamped or improperly stamped cigarettes. The cigarettes were seized and the defendants were each fined $3,000.

During FY2015, agents have arrested seven people for transporting contraband cigarettes in the state and seized 22,798 packs of contraband cigarettes. The seized cigarettes have been valued at $147,047 and represent a tax loss to the state of $45,596.

The Comptroller has been a longtime advocate for aggressive enforcement of Maryland’s tobacco laws and an outspoken proponent for tougher penalties to assist in the battle against illegal cigarette smuggling in Maryland.

MEDIA CONTACT: Barbara Sauers, 410-260-7438 (office) and 410-212-9414 (cell)

Statement of Comptroller Peter Franchot Regarding Updated Revenue Estimates

Statement of Comptroller Peter Franchot Regarding Updated Revenue Estimates

Annapolis, Md. (September 24, 2014) – The Board of Revenue Estimates met today to write down revenue estimates for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016 by more than $405 million. Comptroller Peter Franchot, as chairman of the Board, released the following statement:

“We convene today to write down our already cautious revenue projections for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016 by more than $405 million. Far more important than what a $405 million shortfall means for the state budget is the painful reality that it indicates for the budgets of Maryland families and small businesses.

“We’re writing down individual income tax receipts – the largest individual source of state revenue – by over $350 million, between the shortfall in individual income tax receipts carried over from Fiscal 2014 and our write down of expected revenues for Fiscal Year 2015.  Six years removed from the economic collapse, and far too many families and small businesses are still waiting for the recovery they keep hearing about.

“We can classify a year or two outside the ordinary as simply abnormal. But more than a half decade later, we need to accept that sluggish growth and challenging economic conditions have become our new normal. It feels like we sit at these meetings every quarter, hopeful and determined that ‘next year will be the year’ when the recovery takes hold and is felt broadly throughout the economy. Yet, another year has passed, and ordinary families and small businesses haven’t even recovered to where they were before the financial collapse, much less made up for the wages they’ve lost over the past six years. We need to recognize that hope is not an economic strategy.

“The same challenging conditions I’ve discussed in past meetings haven’t substantively improved.Wages and salaries are essentially stagnant. Local, independent businesses are struggling to meet payroll, cover their costs and turn a profit. Working families have cut back their spending because they just don’t have the money, they’re scared of losing their jobs, or, in many cases, both.

“In a consumer-driven economy, it should come as no surprise that when consumers are struggling, businesses inevitably feel that pain, particularly in an environment where margins have often already been trimmed down to the bone. Add that to Maryland’s unemployment rate – traditionally a major strength – not keeping pace with improvements seen in the country as a whole.

“Maryland’s 6.4 percent unemployment rate is higher than the national rate of 6.1 percent – something we’ve only experienced twice in the past three and a half decades – during the tech boom of the late 1990s and the 1980 recession. In terms of wages – the oxygen working families need to survive – Maryland’s average wage growth was just 0.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014, far below the rate of inflation for the same period.

“Essentially, workers perceive that their take-home pay is headed in the wrong direction and the purchasing power for Maryland families is, in reality, diminishing. The housing market has failed to rebound in a sustained and meaningful way, particularly with Maryland second worst in the nation in home foreclosure rates.

“Combined, these economic indicators led to a Maryland economy that didn’t grow at all last year – with a 0 percent GDP growth for 2013. As we know, an economy that isn’t growing is actually retracting. This all means uncertainty for families and businesses. They are unsure about their prospects and, as a result, unwilling to make the purchases and investments our consumer-driven economy needs to grow. As great a state as we are and as robust an economic system as we have, uncertainty serves as a serious deterrent to economic growth.

“Whether it’s sequestration, unpredictability in the tax and regulatory environment or an inability to make long-term federal budgeting decisions, most of the uncertainty is based on political problems and decisions, as opposed to global economic conditions. While the federal government has always been and certainly remains a major economic advantage, our over reliance on the public sector carries significant risks. We can embrace our proximity to Washington as a strength without depending on it as our sole basis for economic stability.

“We simply can’t assume that we’re around the corner from returning to the way it was, and back to the decisions we could afford to make in Maryland as a result. The fact remains that we’ll only see the economic growth we’re accustomed to when we get the private sector economy growing. We can only make that happen if we provide a sense of predictability for Maryland families and small businesses.

“As state policymakers, we need to be smart in how we spend taxpayer dollars, recognizing that to  invest in the things we need, we have to forego many of the things we simply want. We have to be more forward-looking about how we borrow money as a state.  We simply can’t sustain our current patterns of debt accumulation without provoking actions that could do further harm to an already fragile economy — amplifying the significant fiscal and economic challenges we already face.

“As we all know, a sustained economic recovery is going to come down to jobs, both here in Maryland and throughout the nation. As long as we see continued weakness in wages and job growth, consumers will inevitably pull back, causing businesses to struggle and the economy to underperform.

We simply cannot create any unnecessary road blocks that would make employers reluctant to invest, grow and hire. But if we maintain a cautious mindset and provide a sense of predictability to Maryland families and small businesses, our economic bones are strong enough and our people are resilient enough to withstand this write down and the economic challenges it represents.”

Revenue Table – Sept 14

Media Contact: Christine Feldmann, (410) 260-6346 (office), (443) 336-0215 (cell)

Fair Goers Find $2.52M in Unclaimed Property at State and County Fairs and Festivals

- Comptroller’s Office Working to Link Taxpayers to Their Money -

Annapolis, Md. (Sept. 15, 2014) – Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that nearly 2,000 people discovered more than $2.5 million in unclaimed funds after visiting his agency’s booth at fairs and festivals across the state this Summer. One visitor to the Maryland State Fair discovered an unexpected windfall of $71,516. Throughout the summer, Comptroller Franchot’s staff worked the unclaimed property booths at the African American Heritage Festival in Baltimore City, the Allegany County Fair, the Montgomery County Fair and the Prince George’s County Fair as part of a state-wide initiative to help reunite Marylanders with money they are owed. In Montgomery County, one person discovered unclaimed property totaling $24,840.

“In these challenging economic times, it is our duty and pleasure to return unclaimed funds to their rightful owners,” Comptroller Franchot said. “Each day, we vigorously work to find the owners of the unclaimed property and to make sure they get what they are owed. This is our ongoing effort to serve the people of Maryland.”

Financial institutions, utilities, insurance companies and other corporations are required to report to the Comptroller any bank accounts, security deposits, wages, insurance benefits and contents of safe deposit boxes that have been unclaimed after three years.

In addition to his booth at fairs and festivals, the Comptroller searches for owners of unclaimed funds by advertising in local newspapers and matching files with state income tax information, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles.

So far this summer, more than 12,000 people at the fairs and festivals mentioned made inquiries at the unclaimed property booths. The Comptroller’s staff will also participate in the following events now through the Fall:

Frederick County-Great Frederick Fair            
September 12-20
797 E. Patrick Street
Frederick, MD

50+ Expo                                                      
Senior Expo/Baby Boomer Expo

October 17                                                    October 22 and 23
Wilde Lake High School                                  Maryland State Fairgrounds
5460 Trumpeter Road                                    2200 York Road
Columbia, MD                                                Timonium, MD

The Comptroller encourages everyone to log onto his Website, to search the agency’s complete record of unclaimed funds or at www.missingmoney.com. Additionally, people can call the office at 410-767-1700 in Central Maryland or toll-free at 1-800-782-7383 from elsewhere.

Media Contact: Barbara Sauers, (410) 260-7438 (office), (410) 212-9414 (cell)

Comptroller Announces Return of Maryland Masters Award for 2014-2015 School Year

- Program Showcases Artwork of Students in Each County and Baltimore City -

Annapolis, Md. (August 28, 2014) – Comptroller Peter Franchot has announced the return of last year’s highly successful program aimed at recognizing public school students who have displayed extraordinary artistic skills and vision for Maryland’s future with his Maryland Masters Award. The initiative, which debuted last school year, celebrates the achievements of young Marylanders with artistic talents and showcases the work of public school students from Kindergarten through 12th grade at the Comptroller’s Office in Annapolis.

“I look forward to again showcasing the art of Maryland’s future artists alongside the acclaimed work of artists from Maryland’s past,” Comptroller Franchot said.

Last year, 55 public school students from 19 jurisdictions throughout the state took part in the program. This year, the Comptroller hopes school superintendents from each of Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City submit an original piece of artwork from students in elementary, middle and high school to exhibit for two months in the Comptroller’s Office. The students, selected by their school systems, and their families will be invited to a special unveiling ceremony in their home county along with their art teachers, classmates, school officials and elected leaders.

“Maryland’s future economic success will undoubtedly rely on our ability as parents, mentors and educators to instill a creative spirit in our children to inspire them to embrace their diverse and beautiful surroundings,” the Comptroller said.

The students’ artwork will join a collection of original paintings by one of Comptroller Franchot’s favorite artists, Herman Maril. Called an American modernist, Maril was born in Baltimore and served as a professor at the University of Maryland for more than 30 years.

Nominations from school superintendents for the 2014-2015 school year will be accepted through Monday, November 3, 2014. For details on how to submit an art piece for consideration and frequently asked questions, art teachers and school administrators may visit the Comptroller’s website.

Media Contact: Barbara Sauers, 410-260-7438, office; 410-212-9414, cell

 

Franchot Kicks Off Petition Drive in OC to Start Public Schools After Labor Day

- Comptroller says “Let Summer Be Summer” -

Ocean City, Md. (August 14, 2014) – Citing the benefits to Maryland families, small businesses, teachers and tourism, Comptroller Peter Franchot today kicked off a “Let Summer Be Summer” petition drive on the Ocean City Boardwalk to collect 10,000 signatures in support of a campaign to start Maryland public schools after Labor Day.
Joined by business owners, tourism officials and state and local legislators, the Comptroller plans to present the list of supporters to members of the Maryland General Assembly when they reconvene in January. “Let Summer Be Summer” petitions will be available at hotels, restaurants in Ocean City, Deep Creek Lake and at public fairs and festivals throughout the state.

“Busy families have so little time to spend together to build lifelong memories. Increasingly, the end-of-summer vacation no longer happens because of decisions to begin school a week, or even ten days, before Labor Day,” Comptroller Franchot said. “This not only cuts into one last chance for Marylanders to spend time together as a family, but it also negatively impacts small businesses throughout our state. We all need to do what we can to support small businesses and promote economic activity. To continue as we have causes unnecessary harm to our economy for no good reason.”

The “Let Summer Be Summer” campaign comes on the heels of a governor’s task force recommendation in late May that the state’s public schools delay opening until after Labor Day, a proposal that seeks to extend summer vacation for a week or more in many areas. The state task force, which met for nearly a year, voted 11 to 4 to embrace a later start date statewide.

“Starting school after Labor Day would have a tremendous effect on the economy in Ocean City,” said Ocean City Mayor Richard W. Meehan. It would give visitors extra days at the ocean, with tourists staying at our local hotels and enjoying a great dinner at our fine restaurants while boosting the local economy at a time in late August and early September when they need it.”

Last August, the Comptroller Franchot released an economic impact report completed by the Bureau of Revenue Estimates regarding a post Labor Day start date for all Maryland public schools which found that a delayed school start in Maryland would result in an additional $74.3 million in direct economic activity, including $3.7 million in new wages and a separate $7.7 million in state and local revenue.

“Tourism is at the heart of our local economy,” said G. Hale Harrison, an Ocean City businessman. “Extending the start of school until after Labor Day pumps up business at our local hotels and restaurants and creates foot traffic at stores and businesses throughout Ocean City.”

The study also found that 8.5 percent of 514,680 affected families – those with school age children – would take either a new day trip or a new overnight trip to one of Maryland’s three top destinations – Baltimore City, Deep Creek Lake or Ocean City. Another 5.2 percent would take a new out-of-state day or overnight trip and the remaining families would devote at least one more day to a family recreational activity close to home. Earlier this year, Worcester County Public Schools voted to start school on Sept. 2, the day after Labor Day, which the Comptroller praised.

“Summer gives teachers some much-needed time to recharge our batteries after the grind of the previous academic year,” said Leslie Beveridge, a third math grade teacher at Easton Elementary School. “Extending summer vacation until after Labor Day would give teachers and our families extra time to spend together to go to the beach or to take a day trip to one of Maryland historic sites or to visit any of the state’s fun tourists’ spots.”

Instead of reducing the 180-day school year, the Comptroller is confident the state’s school systems would be able to adjust their calendars throughout the academic year without losing time for instruction in the classroom.

“Maryland families save up a little each paycheck to spend one week each year in Ocean City, or at Deep Creek Lake or to enjoy the amenities at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor,” Comptroller Franchot said. “Let’s not cut short their summer opportunities to visit so many wonderful recreational, historic and entertainment destinations right here in Maryland and at the same time generate economic benefits for our small businesses Let Summer Be Summer!”

The petition is available on the Comptroller’s Office website.

Media Contact: Barbara Sauers, 410-260-7438, office; 410-212-9414, cell