In which I criticize Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan

I love Governor Hogan, and I think he’s doing a great job in Maryland.  I love that he’s been able to balance the budget without raising our taxes again. Reducing the tolls, while it doesn’t affect me, seems like a great move to make MD more friendly to tourists and truckers.  I personally appreciate the military retirement tax relief increase.  This particular post has become even harder to write after the Governor announced he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and just started chemo to treat & hopefully beat his cancer.  Lord knows my prayers are with him and his family as they go through this difficult time.

hogan-raintaxrepealBut I’ve got a major beef with his current push to take credit for repealing the “rain tax.”  He did not repeal the tax. He repealed the state mandate that the affected counties had to charge a fee.  The federal mandate that those specific counties continue to come up with money to fund the storm water clean up still continues. Three counties have either never enacted the fee in the first place, or repealed their “rain tax” fee.  Baltimore County reduced its fee by a third.  But so far, none of the other counties have tried to repeal their fees. In my home county of Prince George’s, the County Executive Rushern Baker has already said that he will not attempt to reduce or repeal the fee in PG County.  He told the Baltimore Sun that he’d have to slash things like education to come up with the federally mandated funds. So it is disingenuous for Governor Hogan and his team to sit in Annapolis and brag about “repealing the rain tax.”

Then there’s the purple line fiasco. The Governor rightly rejected the Red line in Baltimore as the money-pit that it is, but he said the Purple line would go forward, provided Montgomery and PG County pony up more cash.  Really, he should have just vetoed it outright.  The counties now have to decide if they think it’s worth it to raise taxes in order to pay for it, because neither county has any extra cash to throw at this project.  Montgomery County is dealing with the fall out from a double-taxation lawsuit they lost. PG County barely got a budget passed after they raised property taxes for the first time since 1979, possibly in violation of TRIM. It’s once again disingenuous for Governor Hogan and his team to say they approved the Purple Line.  In reality, it’s been approved conditionally, and those conditions are very unlikely to be met without counties raising taxes on their citizens.   I’m hoping this is just some sort of strategic move on his part to try to save the state some money and appease some voters while turning public sentiment against the idea.

All in all, I like Governor Hogan, and I think he’s doing the best job he can.  His handling of the Baltimore Riots was spot on, despite all the shade Mayor Rawlings-Blake tries to throw at him for it.  I wish him nothing but the best of luck in getting cooperation out of the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.  He tried to get the automatic increase in the gas tax stopped, but couldn’t get it through the General Assembly. I just wish that he would take this opportunity to educate the people about the federal mandates that kill the state and local budgets.  I also hope that his wording of the “rain tax repeal” doesn’t come back to bite him in the rear.

 

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