Maryland Governor Larry Hogan gave the closing address to the 2019 MACo Summer Conference on August 17, touching on a variety of issues including: economic growth, land use, rural broadband, and education.
Referencing the conference theme of “Winds of Change,” Hogan stated that “we have brought real and lasting change to Maryland.”
Hogan stated that Maryland has had “the biggest economic turnaround in America” and has gone from losing more than 100,000 jobs to gaining 100,000 jobs. He noted that Maryland received federal approval for 149 opportunity zones across the state, with at least one in every county. The state is providing $10 million for new and expanding businesses and nonprofits in the zones, as well as $17.5 million in housing assistance.
A Better Maryland
Hogan referenced the recent unveiling of the new state development plan, that will support “thoughtful growth and infrastructure.” Hogan noted that the plan was built from local land use and promised, “no longer will the State usurp your [land use] authority.”
Renewable Energy Siting Task Force
Hogan also referenced the recent Executive Order calling for the creation of a renewable energy siting task force. Hogan stressed there needed to be a balanced approach to energy siting that respects local zoning and minimizes the impact on key agricultural or environmentally sensitive lands.
Hogan unveiled a new funding commitment to provide an additional $100 million to connect another 225,000 rural Marylanders with high speed Internet.
Hogan stressed the importance of school construction funding, noting that more than half of the entire capital budget goes towards education. During the 2020 legislative session, the Hogan Administration plans on introducing a bill with $2 billion more for school construction funding.
School Funding/”Kirwan Commission”
The Governor expressed concern about the new school funding formula that was proposed by the “Kirwan Commission” and adopted in concept by the Maryland General Assembly. Hogan warned that the new formula will cause an $18.7 billion deficit over the next 12 years. The Department of Budget and Management estimated that paying for the proposal will require a 39% income tax increase or a 535% increase in the property tax. “Not a single one of those things is going to happen as long as I am governor,” Hogan stated.
While noting that fatal overdoses have declined statewide by 14%, Hogan noted that the state must “continue to do more” to address the opioid crisis.
Chesapeake Bay Restoration
Hogan highlighted the improving health of the Chesapeake Bay and his Administration’s $5 billion in spending on Bay initiatives.
Hogan stated that Maryland has over 800 transportation infrastructure projects, including both road and transit projects, under construction. The projects total roughly $9 billion. Touching on local Highway User Revenue (HUR) funding, the Governor noted that his Administration had worked with MACo and signed legislation “putting us on a path to restoring local highway user revenue [funding].”
Baltimore City Violence
Calling the ongoing criminal violence in Baltimore City an “urgent issue,” Hogan briefly detailed prior attempts to address the problem before pledging to seek stronger sentencing penalties on repeat offenders. “I am calling on leaders at every level of government to impose tougher sentences on those repeatedly convicted of violent crimes,” Hogan said.
After sharing his impressions of recently being elected chair of the National Governors Association, Hogan reiterated the importance of working with the counties. “With a strong partnership with local governments, we can accomplish much,” Hogan concluded.
MACo President and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman introduced Hogan and noted that when the final numbers were calculated, the 2019 Summer Conference would set an attendance record.