Governor Larry Hogan delivered his sixth State of the State address, vowing to stay focused on the “The People’s Priorities,” in which he called for action on common sense initiatives to address the most urgent issues facing Marylanders.
During his address, Governor Hogan urged lawmakers to pass a series of bills to address the violent crime crisis in Baltimore City, forge a bipartisan path forward on education to deliver better results for Maryland’s students, and advance the largest tax cut for Marylanders in more than two decades.
The governor also emphasized the need to pass ethics and accountability reforms to address a culture of corruption among public officials, pass redistricting reform to restore free and fair elections, hold state and federal partners accountable for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, and fund the critical Howard Street Tunnel project to improve Baltimore City’s infrastructure and bring thousands of jobs to the region.
“While Washington seems to be more bitterly divided than ever, here in Maryland we have faced our challenges with civility and moderation,” Governor Hogan said. “We have continued to put the people’s priorities ahead of partisan politics, and we worked together to achieve real, bipartisan, common sense solutions that worked for the people we serve.”
A focus of the speech was on the violent crime that continues to plague the City of Baltimore.
To stop the murders and shootings in Baltimore City, Governor Hogan challenged lawmakers to pass his violent crime bills, including the Violent Firearm Offenders Act of 2020, to toughen penalties for violent offenders who commit crimes with guns; the Judicial Transparency Act of 2020, to hold judges accountable for their sentencing decisions; and the Witness Intimidation Prevention Act of 2020, to toughen penalties for those who intimidate witnesses.
“This is an urgent crisis, and we have an obligation to do something about it right now,” said Governor Hogan. “There can be no more excuses and no more delays. The time has come for Baltimore City to finally take back its streets and communities once and for all, and they simply cannot do it without decisive action from this General Assembly.”
In addition to recently announcing $21 million in additional funding for Baltimore City, the governor has proposed new funding for the Attorney General to prosecute violent crimes, and is advancing a comprehensive strategy to tackle juvenile crime.
“If you do not consider any other legislation, and if you accomplish nothing else in the next 61 days, pass the ‘Violent Firearm Offenders Act of 2020,’ which increases penalties for those who use guns to commit violent crimes, toughens penalties for those who possess stolen firearms and guns with obliterated serial numbers, and those who use, possess, or supply illegal guns to violent criminals,” said Governor Hogan.
Governor Hogan urged lawmakers to focus on holding local school systems accountable and making sure tax dollars go into the classrooms.
The governor has proposed the Community and Local Accountability for Struggling Schools (CLASS) Act of 2020 to empower local communities to quickly and effectively turn around underperforming schools. He is also calling on lawmakers to pass the Building Opportunity Act of 2020—the largest school construction initiative in state history.
“I stand here today ready and willing to continue working alongside you to ensure that every single child in our state has access to a great education, regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in,” said Governor Hogan. “But instead of continuing to simply debate how much more we should spend, let’s have productive discussions about how we can hold local school systems accountable for the billions of state tax dollars we are already investing, and let’s make sure those dollars are getting into the classrooms where they belong. Our bipartisan efforts should have one simple goal, and that is achieving better results for Maryland’s children.”
To make it more affordable for retirees to stay in Maryland, Governor Hogan has introduced the Retirement Tax Reduction Act of 2020, which will cut retirement taxes for Marylanders by more than $1 billion over five years.
This legislation will eliminate all state tax on the first $50,000 of income for retirees making up to $100,000 in federally adjusted gross income. Retirees with Maryland income up to $50,000 will pay no state tax whatsoever in the State of Maryland.
“This is the largest tax reduction in Maryland in more than two decades,” said Governor Hogan. “It will provide tax relief for more than 230,000 Marylanders, and will help keep tens of thousands of Maryland retirees from fleeing our state.”
To address a culture of corruption among public officials, Governor Hogan called on the General Assembly to pass the Ethics and Accountability in Government Act of 2020, which increases fines for bribery of public officials by 1,000%, forces convicted lawmakers to forfeit their taxpayer-funded pensions, expands prohibitions on misuse of confidential information by public officials, and empowers the Ethics Commission to directly assess penalties against public officials.
“We cannot allow the unethical behavior of a few to tarnish the goodwill of the many in our state capital,” said Governor Hogan. “This is an important effort to help restore the public’s trust and to bring further transparency and accountability to Annapolis.”
Continuing his fight to restore free and fair elections, Governor Hogan called on lawmakers to pass the Redistricting Reform Act of 2020, creating a nonpartisan redistricting commission with a transparent process to ensure fairness in drawing both congressional and legislative districts.
Governor Hogan proposed similar legislation in four previous sessions, yet despite Maryland having some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country, the General Assembly has failed to even bring this bill to the floor for a vote.
“Our state has the unfortunate distinction of having the most gerrymandered districts in America,” said Governor Hogan. “In this highly partisan time in America, you have a chance to do the right thing, to strike a win for democracy, fairness, and decency, by finally—after five years—bringing the nonpartisan redistricting bill to the floor of this body for an up-or-down vote.”
Governor Hogan’s proposed budget fully funds Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts for the fifth straight year. All told, the Hogan administration has committed $6 billion to Bay restoration efforts—the most in history. And to protect Bay restoration efforts, Governor Hogan has directed the Attorney General to pursue legal action against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Maryland has made historic progress in Bay restoration, but we cannot and should not have to do it alone,” said Governor Hogan. “I intend to keep pushing our upstream neighbors and federal partners to ensure that they are doing their fair share to protect this national treasure.”
Governor Hogan also called on the General Assembly to fund his plan to advance the critical Howard Street Tunnel project, which will improve Baltimore City’s infrastructure, increase business at the Port of Baltimore, and bring thousands of jobs to the region.
The Board of Public Works recently voted to advance the transformative Traffic Relief Plan to ease traffic congestion for hundreds of thousands of commuters every day and dramatically improve quality of life in the Washington Capital Region for decades to come.
“We advanced a transformative regional interstate traffic relief plan, which will finally begin to address the second-worst traffic congestion in America and solve what has been the number one problem in the region for decades, and as chairman of the nation’s governors, I’m leading a national initiative focused on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure,” said Governor Hogan.