Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday he believes his second legislative session is going well so far, but he also says he’s aware this “might be the calm before the storm.”
The Republican governor said he’s “thrilled” the Senate approved some across-the-board tax relief, but he’s unsure of how the House of Delegates will change the legislation. It would reduce Maryland’s top four tax brackets and expand the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers. It also would make a small boost in personal exemptions for people who make between $60,000 and $100,000 a year.
“I’m concerned about the House, and I’m hoping that we can try to keep that intact because it’s something that we’re very supportive of and that I think most people in Maryland are pretty supportive of,” Hogan said.
Hogan also said he’s pleased that the Democrat-controlled legislature approved his budget proposal with relatively minor changes.
“I don’t think it could have gone any better with respect to our number one focus, which is the budget,” Hogan said.
Still, Hogan said he is disappointed that the legislature hasn’t passed his plan to take politics out of the legislative redistricting process by creating an independent panel. Democratic lawmakers have opposed his proposal to rein in spending mandates, and lawmakers have even moved forward with new mandates that the governor said he would consider vetoing.
“We’ll have to consider it,” Hogan said, when asked about potential vetoes. “I mean, it’s something that we don’t believe in, and the fact that such a high percentage of our budget is already mandated increases in spending we thought it was important to try to hold the line on spending, and we submitted legislation with the effect of trying to limit and reduce the number of mandates.”
Hogan specifically mentioned legislation that mandates spending for a new regional medical center in Prince George’s County, backed by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, and a plan by House Speaker Michael Busch to mandate $18 million a year for five years to address urban decay in Baltimore. Hogan said he has his own plan for addressing urban blight in Baltimore without mandating spending for five years. The governor submitted a supplemental budget with $18 million this year for the initiative. He also has been working on a separate plan for the medical center in Largo.
On the whole, Hogan said he was happy so far with the session.
“But I still think it might be the calm before the storm,” he said, noting the session is set to end April 11 at midnight.