Larry Hogan

Gov. Larry Hogan delivers his State of the State address in Annapolis.

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan outlined a legislative agenda Wednesday that included tax relief for retirees and small businesses, repealing automatic increases to the gas tax and providing more autonomy for charter schools.

In the first State of the State address of his four-year term, Hogan said his new administration will focus on controlling spending and revitalizing the economy, with an eye toward benefiting Maryland’s families and businesses.

“Our economy is floundering, and too many Marylanders have been struggling just to get by,” Hogan said.

Hogan said he’ll introduce legislation to repeal income taxes on pensions for retired law enforcement, first responders, firefighters and military members.

Another proposal would create an exemption to the personal property tax that Hogan said would eliminate the charge for more than 70,000 small-business owners. His proposal would exempt from taxation the first $10,000 of personal property.

Hogan argued for rolling back a 2013 change that allowed the state’s fuel tax to increase automatically with inflation and for repealing the law requiring Maryland’s largest jurisdictions to charge a stormwater fee. In Frederick County, the fee known by critics as the “rain tax” stands at 1 cent per property.

The new Republican governor will have to work with a Democrat-dominated Legislature to advance his proposals, and in Wednesday’s speech, he reiterated his call for a spirit of bipartisanship.

But the response to Hogan’s address highlighted the party divides.

While Democrats sat in silence through many of Hogan’s applause lines, the address garnered rave reviews from Republican lawmakers.

“I certainly got my cardio from jumping up and down and clapping. I was, I think, the standing ovation queen,” said Delegate Kathy Afzali, R-District 4, adding that Hogan touched on numerous issues important to Frederick County residents.

For instance, Hogan’s education proposals speak directly to concerns raised by Frederick County’s charter school proponents, who have been asking for more self-governance, Afzali noted. The governor also vowed to combat the state’s heroin epidemic, a problem that has swept across Frederick County.

But Afzali’s colleagues across the aisle said the governor’s address was reminiscent of a campaign speech, chock-full of promises impossible to fulfill with the state’s current fiscal limitations.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat, said he’s receptive to financial assistance for charter schools or easing the tax burden on retirees. However, Hogan was facing a $750 million budget deficit this year, and it isn’t the right time for these initiatives, Miller said.

“I was just disappointed,” the Senate president said of Hogan’s speech. “Maybe he’ll grow into the job. I hope he will. I hope he’ll understand what’s doable.”

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner watched the State of the State for signs of how Hogan’s proposals could affect local government budgets. She said she’s particularly concerned that Hogan’s proposed state budget is cutting Frederick County’s education funding.

The Hogan administration has said his budget provides record levels of statewide school funding, although not as much as local school officials were expecting to receive.

Gardner was pleased that Hogan committed to restoring state dollars for work on local roads, funding that was slashed during the recession years. The governor this week introduced a supplemental budget that provided counties with an additional $4 million for road repairs and an additional $19 million for municipalities.

Hogan also proposed phasing in more funding increases over the next eight years.

Still unknown is whether the governor’s proposed 2 percent cut to state agencies will place an added burden on local governments, Gardner said. For instance, the reductions might affect the local health department’s ability to provide public health services, she said.

“It could impact what (Hogan) is trying to accomplish on the heroin epidemic,” Gardner said of the cuts.

Sen. Ron Young objected that Hogan’s speech painted an inaccurate, doom-and-gloom picture of the state’s economy.

“You’d have thought we were in Alabama or Mississippi,” he said. “It’s not that there aren’t problems that can be corrected. There are. But it is a competitive state.”

Several of Hogan’s proposals lacked definition, such as his call for a healthier Chesapeake Bay, said Young, D-District 3. The senator said Hogan condemned the prior administration’s approach to environmental protection but failed to offer a viable alternative.

Delegate David E. Vogt III, R-District 4, said Hogan’s core priorities are to create prosperity and make the state more business-friendly, goals that are nonpartisan. However, Vogt said it will be difficult to persuade the Democratic legislators to repeal the stormwater fee and the automatic gas tax increases.

“I definitely think that we might be able to get strong enough support to get one of them through,” Vogt said.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(9) comments

FrederickVeteran

The problem is that MD taxes aren't enough to discourage unproductive financial bottom feeders to depart and relocate to RED states where they can sit in their trailers all day cleaning their weapons waiting for a race war or play video games waiting for their rap career to take off.

nbouqu1

There were 1,857,880 votes for Governor in 2010.

There were 1,733,177 votes for Governor in 2014

A drop of 124,703 voters or a 6.7% drop. And that turnout difference, is well within the margin of victory by Hogan (65,510 votes). Hogan squeaked out a win. He's a one and done Governor, and he knows it.

All this being said, my party deserves a lot of blame for 1) nominating an uninspiring candidate. Really, there was NO fire or energy in this campaign. 2) allowing Republican lies to go unchallenged for four years. For example, it is often claimed that there is a mass exodus from MD, not true. From the Maryland Manual Online, "Between 2000 and 2010, Maryland's population gained 477,066 persons, an increase of 9%. Southern Maryland grew the fastest with an increase of 21% for the region overall, led by St. Mary's County at 22%." Then there's the claim we are anti-business, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says otherwise.... from the 2014 Enterprising States report, "Maryland leads the pack in the Enterprising States Technology and Entrepreneurship category, ranking 1st for the 3rd year in a row. Further breakdown of this indicator reveals that Maryland ranks 1st in STEM job concentration, 1st in academic research and development, 3rd in high-tech business concentration, and 9th in 10-year STEM job growth."

What will it take to get you to realize you are being lied to by the GOP?

Comment deleted.
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nbouqu1

No, it was to make up for the fact it hadn't been raised in what? 20 years? It's been a flat surcharge on a gallon of gas. In the intervening years costs for road construction and repair per mile have gone up. Oh and we are driving less, and our vehicles are more fuel efficient, which are good things.

Any borrowing from the Highway Trust Fund is to avoid increasing income or property taxes OR worse massive cuts in services. We have this thing in MD called a Balanced Budget Amendment, which means that the budget the MGA approves every year has to be balanced (assuming the revenue projections for that year are accurate)

jerseygrl42

after 8 years in the omalley wasteland of tax increases and wasteful spending , we finally have a governor of the citizens/ taxpayers of this state ...how refreshing is this ...keep up the good work Gov. Hogan

Glen Shiel

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

b1sellers

What has he done? He gave a speech.

FrederickVeteran

Jerseygrl42 come up for air hon.

BlueDawn666

I thought that Hogan went to governor school to learn how to govern guess he got an F because judging by some of these comments and what he has proposed he didn't learn a thing in those governor classes.

Well Marylander's this is what you get when you elected someone that the Koch brothers played you into electing, we tried to warn you this is what would happen but you wouldn't listen, oh snap. Going to be a long and painful 4 years....better just Marylander up and take Hogan's lunacy like good little taxpaying citizens...

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat, said he’s receptive to financial assistance for charter schools or easing the tax burden on retirees. However, Hogan was facing a $750 million budget deficit this year, and it isn’t the right time for these initiatives, Miller said...smart man here Mike, you can't cut taxes when there is a deficit unless of course you want a bigger and bigger deficit then the state can just go broke and then it will be really open for business...for a cheap sale.

“I was just disappointed,” the Senate president said of Hogan’s speech. “Maybe he’ll grow into the job. I hope he will. I hope he’ll understand what’s doable.”

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner watched the State of the State for signs of how Hogan’s proposals could affect local government budgets. She said she’s particularly concerned that Hogan’s proposed state budget is cutting Frederick County’s education funding....Koch brothers are all for privatizing education, cut the schools funding, get the schools to fail, much easier for people to be played in privatizing them...this is a long term plan for them. Just look at what the last BoCC did...

Several of Hogan’s proposals lacked definition, such as his call for a healthier Chesapeake Bay, said Young, D-District 3. The senator said Hogan condemned the prior administration’s approach to environmental protection but failed to offer a viable alternative....cause Hogan is a Koch brother puppet, they hate those pesky regulations and all...remember that fertilizer plant in Texas that blew up a few years ago, that had not been inspected since the 1980's and did decimate an entire town..and who was the governor of Texas then--Rick Perry. Republicans are just known for their love of regulations..even if they will save the Bay.

One last thing go and drive through the states that don't have that gas tax, compare their roads to our roads....I will gladly pay a few more cents per gallon to have nice roads..among other nice things we have here in Maryland.

Here is how and why Larry Hogan was elected and how we were played ...well some us were not played cause we already knew this...

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/koch-brothers-rnc-113359.html

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Sallyforth

Yes it does. Voter apathy on behalf of democrats.

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