ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said the state has increased in job growth, historic levels of funding toward education and transportation projects to help every jurisdiction in the state.
Hogan spoke Wednesday for more than 20 minutes during his State of the State address in the House Chamber as his first four-year term comes to an end. The 61-year-old governor, without mentioning President Donald Trump in his remarks, also pleaded for bipartisanship as he seeks re-election.
“All of us had to make a choice between serving a political party, or serving the people of Maryland,” Hogan said. “One need only look to Washington to see the destruction that is caused when hyper-partisanship and inflammatory rhetoric permeate the debate and erode our faith in the institutions of government.”
Bipartisanship wasn’t evident when Hogan spoke about transportation projects such as the Purple Line light-rail projects, tax cuts and proposed crime legislation that includes an increase in jail sentences for those charged as being repeat violent offenders.
“We have risen above the fray of partisan politics,” Hogan said. “We have chosen to seek common sense bipartisan solutions to the serious problems that faced us. We are living up to the great potential and promise of our state, and together, we are changing Maryland for the better.”
Some current and former Democratic lawmakers said Hogan’s bipartisan remarks sound good in theory, but haven’t been practiced.
One criticism of Hogan stems from his lack of participation at committee hearings and meetings.
“I haven’t seen him once,” said Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-District 21) of College Park. “Other governors have come for testimony on a bill. This was just a campaign speech.”
Parris Glendening, former Maryland governor and Prince George’s County Executive, said it was a “fairly general” address.
“It was the type you would give in an election year when everything is good and nothing is wrong,” he said. “I’ve been there.”
In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin, Hogan remains popular. A poll released earlier this month from Arnold, Maryland-based Gonzalez Research & Media Services shows Hogan ahead of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III by 10 percentage points in the November general election.
House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, a Republican who represents portions of Baltimore and Harford counties, said Hogan’s speech focused on his accomplishments and vision for both parties to improve Maryland.
Szeliga said lawmakers must work together to fight crime. She supports Hogan’s three proposed crime bills, especially with 343 homicides in Baltimore City last year.
“We need to get violent, repeat offenders off our streets to make our communities safer,” she said. “We have to find a way to work on that together. These repeat, violent offenders are getting a slap on the wrist from the judiciary. We’ve got to find a way that they are not continuing to perpetrate violence in our community.”