Hogan focuses on fiscal issues
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 12:58

Larry Hogan  photo by Roland Dorsey

by Ben Boehl

The early bird may usually get the worm, but Larry Hogan hopes to defy that old adage.
    Hogan entered the race for governor in late January; by mid-February, polls showed him leading the pack among Republican candidates.
    Most recently, an April 23 St. Mary’s College of Maryland poll showed Hogan leading the GOP field at 16 percent, ahead of Harford County Executive David Craig at 7.8 percent, while Del. Ron George and Southern Maryland businessman Charles Lollar were tied with 3.8 percent of the vote apiece.
    The same poll showed the bulk of GOP primary voters were still up for grabs, with over 66 percent of Republicans still undecided.
    Still, Hogan was brimming with confidence when he sat for an  interview with Eagle staffers on April 28.
    “They are all good guys,” he said of his three Republican opponents. “But I’m the only candidate that has a chance to [beat the Democratic nominee] in November.”
    Hogan is perhaps best known from his time as a cabinet official during former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s administration, but he has remained in the spotlight in recent years through his economic-conservative  group Change Maryland, which served as the springboard for his gubernatorial bid.
    He is also the son of former U.S. Rep. Lawrence J. Hogan Sr., who represented a Prince George’s County-based district from 1969 to 1975. The elder Hogan was the GOP nominee for governor in 1974 and went on to serve a term as Prince George’s county executive.
    Hogan described Change Maryland as a nonpartisan grassroots movement with over 87,000 members with an aim “to bring fiscal responsibility and common sense to Annapolis and give Marylanders a way to hold their elected officials accountable.”
    Hogan said he wants to bring that fight to the governor’s mansion.

Economic focus
    “People feel a disconnect between Annapolis and Maryland. We are trying to bring fiscal responsibility back to Annapolis,” he told The Eagle.
    Like the other Republicans running for governor, Hogan asserted that high taxes in Maryland have hurt the economy and driven businesses out of the state.
    When Hogan was asked how he would raise revenue as governor, he did not offer specific proposals but argued that higher taxes reduce revenue in the long run because higher rates drive taxpayers from the state. He then declared his support for federal audits of state agencies to find waste and fraud that he said has cost the state $1.75 billion. 
    He said that Maryland has lost 26,000 manufacturing jobs since Gov. Martin O’Malley took office and that 10 of the 13 Fortune 500 companies headquartered here have since left the state.
    [Editor’s note: per our research, the Fortune 500 list published in 2006 — the year O’Malley was elected governor — included five businesses headquartered in Maryland — with seven more in Fortune’s top 1,000 below the 500 mark. The most recent list, published in 2013, features four Maryland-based companies in the Fortune 500.]
    He presented the outline of a plan focused on countering what he described as Maryland’s anti-business reputation by cutting the corporate tax rate from 8.25 to 6 percent and easing the regulatory burden on Maryland businesses.
    “We want to have a tax policy for all businesses. We don’t have to be the lowest, but we can’t tax them out of here,” Hogan said.
    Hogan described the Port of Baltimore as critical to the state’s economy  and said he would make the construction of an intermodal transportation hub for the port his “top priority.”
    When asked about other proactive steps he would take to bring jobs to communities like Dundalk, however, he offered no specific proposals but stressed the use of tax incentives and argued for the broader impact of tax cuts on economic growth.

“Money is not the only answer”
    On education, which he also called “a top priority,” Hogan said he believes Maryland has good schools but that there is too much disparity between the school districts across the state.
    He argued that money is not always the answer and said that many school districts with the highest funding have the weakest schools and that districts spending less often have successful schools.
    “There is not an easy solution, because money is not the only answer,” Hogan noted.
    He said he does believe in the concept of uniform educational achievement standards but does not support the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
    Hogan compared the implementation of Common Core to Maryland’s handling of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and said he expects Maryland to have the same practical problems that it has had with its ACA enrollment system.

Treasuring the bay

    Hogan also discussed his views on the environment, calling the Chesapeake Bay “a treasure that we have to do everything in our power to protect.”
    He expressed his displeasure with the stormwater management fee popularly known as the “rain tax,” and said that of all the tax increases during the O’Malley era, “this is the one that outraged people the most.”
    In place of the stormwater remediation fees mandated by the state, he said he would give counties the leeway to fund storm water runoff programs in other ways.
    Concerning the health of the Chesapeake Bay, Hogan said the biggest problem is the Conowingo Dam. “The sediment ponds [at the dam] haven’t been cleaned in decades,” he said, and blamed the Army of Corps of Engineers for neglecting the problem.
    He said surrounding states that share the Susquehanna River watershed were not complying with regulations to restrict contaminants, adding that he favors enforcement through federal court action.
    Hogan said he has no specific policy proposals for dealing with rising sea levels as a result of global warming. He suggested that due to the scope of the problem, it was best dealt with at the federal level. 
    On social issues, Hogan did not give a comment on “same-sex” marriage as he said it is now legal and closed for discussion.
    Hogan said that he is not against the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, but does not want to see marijuana become legal for recreational purposes as it has in Colorado and Washington state.
    “I tend not to lean towards the legalization of marijuana. I don’t want to pass a law to encourage drug usage,” Hogan said.

“We are not avoiding those guys”

    Given that he has consistently led his GOP rivals in recent opinion polls, Hogan has been the target of barbs from other candidates.
    One, Del. Ron George, has been critical of Hogan for not taking part in Republican candidate forums across the state.
     Hogan responded by noting that a few of the forums took place before he officially entered the race, adding that he has been to two forums and missed the other two events because he had campaign events already scheduled on each night.
    “We are not avoiding those guys. We are busy in (23 counties and Baltimore City),” Hogan responded.    
    “We’ve missed two. I think those guys are frustrated that they are not leading the way. Maybe those guys can follow us around.”
Dundalk Eagle staffers John G. Bailey, Nicole Rodman and Steve Matrazzo also contributed to this report.