Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Governor Anthony Brown both pledged to restore local transportation funding during the Gubernatorial Forum held on Saturday morning of the MACo Summer Conference. However, they proposed different approaches to do so.
During his opening comments, Mr. Hogan pledged to fully restore local highway user revenues, averaging $350 million a year, to local governments in his first budget. Lt. Governor Anthony Brown commented that he is “committed to take steps to restore and evaluate the formula.” He stated that his Administration would “sit down with local governments and work out an agreeable approach and timeframe to restore local transportation funding and develop a formula that would withstand good times and bad.”
The Gubernatorial Forum was the closing session of the 2014 Summer Conference and gave MACo’s membership the opportunity to hear from the candidates on a number of issues of importance. The forum format allowed each candidate to make an opening statement, respond to five questions and make a closing statement. In addition to local transportation funding, question topics focused on economic opportunity, bay cleanup efforts, education priorities, and state and counties working together.
To create economic opportunity, Mr. Hogan said he would “change Maryland’s perceived anti-business attitude and let everyone know that Maryland is open for business; change the unfair regulatory environment; and reduce the tax burden on business.” Lt. Governor Brown stated that his “top priority is to create jobs.” He would also invest in education and training programs and streamline regulations. He commented that counties must do the same. He stated that his “number one strategic goal is to establish Maryland’s business climate to be number one in the country.”
When asked about Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, Mr. Hogan stated, “the number one cause of pollution in the Bay is sediment from the Susquehanna and Conowingo Dam.” He commented that his administration would push back against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and work to get Pennsylvania and Excelon to pay their fare share. Lt. Governor Anthony Brown asked the audience, “Do we take steps to leave the environment better or do we say that government doesn’t have a role in that issue and climate change?” He commented that you can’t support the environment if you rollback the stormwater management fee. He also stated that “if we’re going to tackle this issue, we need to broaden our coalitions for an all front effort. There is no silver bullet.”
In discussing education priorities, Mr. Hogan stated that “Maryland has spent more dollars on education, but problems have gotten worse.” He said he would make sure Maintenance of Effort is as flexible as possible and push down decisions and funding as local governments are closest to the problem. Lt Governor Brown offered three education priorities – school construction with technology upgrades, eliminating the achievement gap starting with the expansion of pre-K, and expanding career technology education.
The last question asked each candidate their ideas for state and county collaboration in their Administration. Mr. Hogan stated that his Administration “will have an open door and counties will have a seat at the table.” He said, “we’ll need full cooperation working with the counties to get things done.” Lt. Governor Brown responded that he has already taken steps to work more closely with counties by selecting Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as his running mate. He also commented that he would engage counties much earlier in the budget process and continue the Intergovernmental Council bridging state and local leaders.
Additional coverage of the MACo Gubernatorial Forum can be found in the following publications.