The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of the House Bill 54. The Conference represents the public-policy interest of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, which includes the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.
House Bill 54 would incentivize businesses to provide employment opportunities to low-income Maryland high school students with a tax credit of the lesser of $1,000 per student employee or $5,000 total. In order to be eligible to receive the tax credit, businesses must employ students who attend a high school with at least an 80% FARMS-eligible student body.
This proposal stands to open up meaningful, productive employment opportunities to thousands of Maryland students, particularly in the areas where such opportunity is most needed. Through those experiences, underserved youth can gain the confidence and skill that they might need to transition them into college or career-readiness.
More specifically, many Catholic school students would be eligible for incentivized employment under this proposal, particularly those whose high school programs serve an extremely high percentage of low income students and encompass gainful employment experience as a key component to their curriculum.
In that vein, Pope Francis has stated that “it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labor that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 192). Thus, the Church emphasizes special attention toward advancing these opportunities for children who are availed less opportunity than others. Therefore, we urge this Committee to report favorably on House Bill 54.