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Hogan highlights economy, tax relief and crime prevention in State of State

January 30th, 2019 by WCBC Radio

 Maryland's improved financial climate means the state can afford more than $500 million in tax relief, Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday during his fifth State of the State speech, as he stressed the need for bipartisanship in the backdrop of divisiveness in nearby Washington — comments that have fueled speculation he is considering a run for president. Hogan touched on a variety of subjects in his 28-minute speech to the General Assembly, including the environment, education, congressional redistricting, health care, opioid addiction and crime in Baltimore. But the Republican governor who entered his second term this month opened his speech by underscoring bipartisanship with a legislature controlled by Democrats. He closed by contrasting that cooperation with gridlock in the nation's capital.

"While partisanship, dysfunction, and gridlock have become commonplace just down the road in Washington, here in Annapolis, we have chosen a different path," Hogan said. "We have been standing up for that exhausted majority who are just sick and tired of all the angry and divisive politics. What they really want is for their elected officials in both parties to put an end to this culture of intolerance, intimidation, and inaction and just get to work and get things done."

Hogan highlighted eight different proposals for tax relief. They include tax incentives to help provide paid parental leave and tax breaks for small business owners.

"These hard-pressed Marylanders deserve a break for a change," Hogan said.

The governor also has included tax relief in his budget plan for the next fiscal year for retired military, law enforcement and fire personnel, as well as for manufacturers who create jobs in high-unemployment zones. Tax deductions on interest for student loans also have been proposed, as well as well as tax incentives to revitalize struggling communities.

Democrats who hold strong majorities in both chambers of the legislature expressed wariness about the size of the tax breaks at a time when they are planning to begin funding a long-term plan to increase education funding. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, said he would have liked to have heard the governor talk about initiatives to lower prescription drug prices, but he didn't rule out some tax relief.

"I'm not sure we're going to be able to deliver on all of it, but certainly some of what we can," Miller said after the speech.

Hogan noted one of the biggest examples of bipartisanship in his first term related to health care, when legislation was approved to stabilize the state's troubled individual marketplace and create a reinsurance plan.

"When it comes to the issue of health care, Washington has continued to fail, but Maryland has continued to lead," Hogan said, again faulting politicians in the nation's capital.


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