Hogan Outlines Legislative Priorities in State of the State

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In his first State of the State address, Governor Larry Hogan outlined his legislative priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session.  As reported by the Washington Post,

…Hogan called for halting automatic increases in the state’s gas tax, creating a tax exemption for small businesses, providing tax relief for military, police and fire retirees, and repealing a storm­water mitigation fee he has long derided as the “rain tax.”

The new governor also proposed expanding charter schools and creating a tax incentive that would help parochial schools, and he pledged to take aggressive steps to combat escalating heroin deaths.

One of MACo’s 2015 legislative priorities “Broad Tools to Tackle the Drug Crisis” would also address this epidemic through the expansion of existing tools available to counties to combat the growing drug problem confronting our State.

An article in the Daily Record (subscription required) outlined his priorities in further detail.

His 10 points touched on tax relief, education, the environment, substance abuse and transportation, including:

  • Repealing the state’s requirement that several counties enact a tax to pay for stormwater pollution reductions, more commonly called the rain tax by Hogan and others. However, counties would still be required to abide by the federal mandate and would need to find some way to pay for the program.
  • Exempting police, firefighters, military and other first responders from paying taxes on retirement income.
  • Exempting small businesses from paying personal property taxes on the first $10,000 of property. That tax is paid directly to local jurisdictions. Republican legislators said Hogan has included nearly $7 million in his budget to offset the loss of revenue to counties.
  • Repealing automatic increases in the gas tax, similar to a bill proposed by Sen. James Brochin, D-Baltimore County.
  • Providing tax credits to residents who make voluntary contributions to private schools.
  • Restoring funding to the public campaign financing program, which Hogan used to win his election in 2014.

Governor Hogan also announced additional funding for local roads and bridges and called for a full restoration of Highway User Revenues, indicating an eight-year phase-in period to return to longstanding prior local funding levels. Municipalities would receive $19 million in new funds while county governments would receive $6 million ($4 million for counties and $2 million for Baltimore City).

MACo has adopted restoring local roadway funds as a top initiative for the 2015 session.