By William J. Ford
ANNAPOLIS — With less than a month before the Maryland General Assembly’s 90-day session ends, Gov. Larry Hogan didn’t mince words Monday at a press conference.
He pleaded with the majority Democratic legislature to approve legislative that hold school systems accountable, cut taxes and eliminate mandate spending that would cause an average $7,000 tax hike for homeowners.
“The legislature seems to be returning to the same failed, overreach, overspent and overtaxed policies of the past,” he said while standing beside Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, state Budget Secretary David Brinkley and Chief Legislative Officer Chris Shank. “That’s exactly the kind of reckless, unsustainable and irresponsible behavior that we have been working so hard to reverse. If we do not stop these actions, it could devastate Maryland’s economy.”
The Republican governor started by calling out state lawmakers not voting to incorporate more accountability standards for school officials. His administration requests an inspector general to “investigate and determine whether the civil rights of teachers, students and parents are being upheld” and analyze complaints within school systems due to grade infractions, child abuse and other alleged education infractions.
“Marylanders want better outcomes for our kids, but they are also demanding that local school administrators are accountable for the billions of state tax dollars their handing over to them,” Hogan said. “Let me be very clear: no additional state tax dollars will be handed over to local school boards without significant accountability measures attached.”
Hogan also chastised the legislature for approving a gradual increase of the state’s minimum hourly wage to $15. He presented a “compromise” letter last week to the presiding officers, calling for a minimum wage increase to $12.10 by 2022. The state’s current wage is $10.10.
The governor cited statistics showing that small businesses would face 48 percent increase in costs and the state would lose an estimated 99,000 jobs and $61 billion over the next decade.
When asked if he would veto any other legislation such as the House-approved $46.7 billion budget, Hogan said would look into it if the bill came across his desk.
A joint committee will be created to blend the two minimum-wage measures passed by the House and Senate.
One main difference between the bills is the House version would increase the hourly wage to $15 by 2025, while the Senate gives businesses with 14 or fewer employees until 2028. In addition, each requires different levels of funding in the state budget for workers who serve people with disabilities to increase their pay.
Del. Michael A. Jackson (D-District 27B), who chairs the Prince George’s County delegation, said this year’s legislative session has been productive with various legislation such as the minimum wage and school construction funding.
“Our job is to make sure we take care of the interest of the people,” he said. “The interest of the people means they can afford to raise their families and get off of government assistance whenever possible. The fight for $15 helps that.
“We looking forward to working with [Hogan],” Jackson said. “We still have a few weeks left to get together on these things and make this a productive session for everybody.”
This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer.