- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

ANNAPOLIS | Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is scheduled to address both chambers of the General Assembly at noon Wednesday for the annual State of the State speech about his priorities for the legislative session and the coming year.

Ahead of this year’s speech, legislators on both sides of the aisle shared their views of the state of the state. They also addressed Mr. Hogan’s last address, which Democrats panned for being too partisan.

Delegate C. William Frick, Montgomery County Democrat: If you’ve watched TV around the nation, around the world, you saw that we’ve got real challenges in our urban centers. We’ve also got a real challenge with rural poverty. We’ve got a lot of challenges, but there’s nothing that’s wrong with Maryland that can’t be solved with what’s right with Maryland, right?

I hope [Mr. Hogan] takes a positive tone. What a great privilege to be governor of a great state like Maryland and he’s got nearly 200 state legislators who are all here trying to do the right thing and keep the state pointed in the right direction. Last year was ugly, frankly. It was a partisan negative campaign speech and I think he and his team know that was a mistake, so I’m not expecting more of that this year.

Delegate Nicholaus Kipke, Anne Arundel Republican: I think we have a lot of reasons to be excited about what’s taking place in Maryland. For the first time in a very long time, Maryland’s economy has begun to grow. We were dead last in job growth just a year ago and now Maryland is growing more jobs than all of the other states in the Mid-Atlantic, and at a faster pace than most states in America. Also, incomes for first time very long time have begun to rise, which we have lagged behind many other states. So there’s a great reason to be optimistic about the changes that the new administration is making.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Calvert County Democrat: I would smile and I’d tell them what a great state this is. It’s the best state in the union. We’ve got everything here. Higher education, K-12, we’ve got the natural resources, we’ve got jobs, we’ve got infrastructure, we’ve got transportation, we’ve got a Triple-A bond rating, we have the highest income of any state in the union and the lowest poverty of any state in the union. This is utopia, this is a garden of Eden, and people, we’re going to continue to make it that way.

[Last year,] it was an angry speech … You tell them the truth, but he won and he just wanted to tell people he won and that things are going to be different and he didn’t say it in a very nice way. And I think he’s learned for the past year, that though his polls are very high, he might say, “I’m doing it my way, people like the way I’m doing it, I’m not going to change.” I have no idea exactly what he’s going to say.

Sen. Andrew Serafini, Washington County Republican: I think it’s moving in a great direction. I know that there’s differences of opinions, but overall, jobs are coming, we have a different tenor in tone, I see an excitement as I go through the community of families, of businesses especially. The business community is excited to have an opportunity to expand, and hopefully that means job creation, and we can help low-income folks, middle-income people, and I’m excited that we’re moving in a great direction. I hope we can keep the momentum going.

Delegate Kumar Barve, Montgomery County Democrat: I don’t think this governor has really moved the ball forward anywhere since his being in office. Obviously, we still have a great public school system, but that’s because of the work that happened prior to him. So I think the things that are going well are going well are because of policies that were enacted years and decades ago. There’s nothing specific in my opinion that the governor has done that’s really improved the situation economically or with respect to education in our state.

Sen. Stephen S. Hershey Jr., Caroline County Republican: I think [Mr. Hogan is] going to address spending as an entirety. His budget came in where he fully funded all the mandated requirements and the next logical step is to look at spending and do a spending reform and try to see if we can cut back on any of those mandates. But I think just the attitude has changed. I think what we saw over the last eight years, that tax and fee and spend mentality has changed. There’s a much more positive outlook on the economy with Gov. Hogan, and I think he’s going to talk about that too.

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