He also calls for legislation to address gun violence.
Annapolis, Md (KM) “The state of our State has never been stronger.” That’s according to Governor Larry Hogan, who addressed legislators on Wednesday during his State of the State Address at the State House in Annapolis. “More businesses are now open, and more people are now working than ever before in the history of our state,” he said. “We ushered in the largest decline in unemployment ever recorded, and had one of the greatest economic turnarounds in America.”
Delivering the Democratic response, State Senator Melony Griffith of Prince George’s County, the President Pro Tem of the Maryland Senate, said her party will be working on the issue of workforce development. “Two-thirds of the jobs in Maryland require a degree or certification. But only about 30% of Marylanders are receiving those degrees and certifications that they need,”: Griffith. “By preparing our students to become that well trained workforce, we can advertise ourselves as ‘Open for Business.'”
In his remarks, the Governor also addressed the issue of the state’s “sky high retirement taxes,” which he says are discouraging many retirees from staying in Maryland. :He proposed the Retirement Tax Reduction Act. “Retirees making $50,000 or less who are often forced to make tough choices every single day to make ends meet will pay no state income tax whatsoever,” he said. “And all retirees who are earning less than $100,000 will see a tax reduction of no less than 50%, and up to 100%. This is the largest tax reduction in Maryland in more than two decades.”
Governor Hogan also pledged to provide more funds for school construction under the Building Opportunity Act. “That will provide $3.9-billion in funding, the largest investment ever in school construction which will enable us to fulfill every single request from every single jurisdiction in the state for new school construction, and for upgrades and repairs for aging schools,”: he said.
State Senator Griffith said education will also be addressed by lawmakers during the 2020 session. “We must make investments in our classrooms and in our buildings,” she said. “In part, we will do it by funding over $2.4-billion in school construction and repairs throughout the state. These critical projects will not only create jobs, but will also insure that school facilities aren’t barriers to teaching and learning.”
Part of the Governor’s State of the State Address dealt with crime, particularly in Baltimore city. He called for passage of the Violent Firearms Offenders Act. “This increases penalties for those who use guns to commit violence crimes; toughens penalties for those who possess stolen firearms, and guns with obliterated serial numbers; and those who use, possess or supply illegal guns to violent criminals.” He also called for passage of the Witness Intimidation Act.
In the Democratic response, Senator Griffith said her party. is also working on bills to address crime. “Providing smarter resources to both fight crime and its root causes; and insuring that there are fewer illegal guns by closing loopholes and increasing penalties,” she said. “We know there’s no single solution to this complex issue. But there are steps that we can take to implement thoughtful and comprehensive approaches to fighting crime.”
The Governor also called on the General Assembly to pass a bill to eliminate gerrymandering. “Our state has the unfortunate distinction of having the most gerrymandered districts in America,” he said. “For five years in a row, we have introduced non-partisan redistricting reform. And yet year after a year, this body has refused to debate this legislation.”
By Kevin McManus