By David Jahng
Capital News Service
At his fifth State of the State address, Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday pushed for bipartisan support from the Democrat-controlled legislature on his initiatives regarding taxes, healthcare, education, transportation, redistricting, violent crime and the environment.
Speaking to a joint session of the Maryland House and Senate, Hogan, a Republican, touted a history of working with the Democrats in the General Assembly and berated Washington’s gridlock.
“We have spent the past four years working together to tackle our common problems,” said Hogan. “We have shown the rest of America that a divided government does not have to be a divisive government.”
Hogan said following an economic turnaround that occurred during his first term, 2019 is the time for targeted tax relief in Maryland.
Hogan said he proposed eight different forms of tax relief to revitalize forgotten communities, help students with college loan debt and assist first responders and public safety workers.
“Maryland is one of the highest taxed states in the nation and people in our communities are struggling and they’re asking us to solve that, and other issues as well,” House Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke (R-Anne Arundel County) told Capital News Service.
Hogan said construction of the Purple Line, financial support for the region’s Metro system and his proposed plan to expand highways is the answer to Marylanders who spend too many hours of their lives sitting in traffic.
Hogan said proposals to raise teacher salaries, help at-risk students and create new programs would benefit K-12 education.
A Building Opportunity Fund for new school construction and legislation to establish public-school oversight would not be about politics, but rather “making sure that every single child in Maryland has the same opportunity to get a world-class education regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up,” said Hogan.
Hogan said it would take the effort of federal, state, county, municipal and community leaders to save thousands of lives from heroin and opioid addiction.
He praised the legislature for working with his administration in the past to protect and lower health insurance rates.
Hogan said programs that protect the Chesapeake Bay would be fully funded.
He also said criminal justice reform to stop repeat offenders is needed in places like Baltimore, where he said he plans to grow the police force. He touted plans to increase sentencing times for violent offenders, and set up a public database of certain violent criminals.
Hogan said he is pushing for comprehensive, nonpartisan reform that would remove politics from the redistricting process.
“It was very uplifting, State of the State, offering respect for bipartisanship, common-sense solutions for taxes, redistricting and dealing with the crime in Baltimore City,” said House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore and Harford counties).
Democrats in the chamber did not stand or applaud for Hogan’s proposals on violent crime and redistricting.
“We tried to imprison our way out of the drug war in the ’70s,” said House Majority Leader Kathleen Dumais (D-Montgomery County). “I think providing social services and getting guns off the streets is a better idea.”
Dumais said the legislature has a lot of work to do that will hopefully be done with the governor.
“But we as Democrats will not sacrifice our agenda,” said Dumais.
Kipke said the governor has had a very successful record over the last four years of passing measures with Democrats to solve Maryland’s problems.
“They’ve (Democrats) not always been his biggest cheerleaders, but at the end of they day, he’s working on things that they have to work with him on, because its issues that our citizens demand be fixed,” said Kipke.