- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tax cuts and deregulation have catapulted Maryland’s economy, making the state one of the most attractive to businesses and taxpayers, according to Gov. Larry Hogan.

The state has made significant strides in stimulating job growth and commercial development, Mr. Hogan said Tuesday at an event hosted by CREW Maryland Suburban, a commercial real estate group.

“Maryland truly is open for business,” the Republican governor told students, educators and real estate professionals at Montgomery College’s Germantown campus. “But we’re just getting started, and there’s a lot more hard work that lies ahead.”

Now entering his third year in office, Mr. Hogan highlighted Maryland’s “exciting economic resurgence” and reiterated his commitment to promoting education, job training and tax breaks for manufacturers in high-unemployment areas like Baltimore, western Maryland and the Lower Eastern Shore.

He touted his proposed Maryland Jobs Initiative, a legislative package that would “provide incentives for the creation of thousands of jobs” by granting tax credits to manufacturing companies that create jobs in certain parts of the state.

“Those areas have not seen the benefit that other parts of the state have,” he said, citing the state’s overall 4.2 percent unemployment rate. “We want to try to incentivize people to go there.”

The national unemployment rate is just under 5 percent.

A Goucher College poll released Monday found that Mr. Hogan remains deeply popular in heavily Democratic Maryland, despite state lawmakers’ attempts to link him to President Trump. His popularity rating slipped from 70 percent to 63 percent in the poll.

Although his relationship with the Democrat-controlled General Assembly has been tumultuous at times, his most recent legislative agenda has been met with relative approval.

“There’s a number of areas where there’s overlap, where both the legislature and the administration would like to see some improvements,” House Majority Leader C. William Frick told The Baltimore Sun, speaking for the Democratic leadership.

Since 2015, state leaders have eliminated “job killing” regulations, cut taxes by $700 billion and lowered tolls for the first time in 50 years, saving drivers a total of $270 million, Mr. Hogan said.

“We put all of this money back into the pockets of Maryland families and small businesses, and back into our economy,” he said.

Mr. Hogan also touted recent improvements to Maryland’s roads and bridges, which he claimed had been “ignored and neglected” under former Gov. Martin O’Malley, resulting in “crumbling roads” and “the worst traffic in the nation.”

Currently, the state has $8.4 billion in transportation infrastructure projects underway, including repairs to 1,073 roads and bridges, Mr. Hogan said.

“It’s historic, it’s unprecedented,” he said. “Relieving congestion and moving forward on improving our infrastructure is absolutely critical to our local governments, our local economies, and economic development across the state.”

The state’s economic rebound has attracted new businesses, Mr. Hogan said, adding that Maryland now has “more manufacturing jobs than all of the states in the mid-atlantic region added together.”

“Businesses, jobs and taxpayers were fleeing the state in droves,” he said. “Now, more than three quarters of all Marylanders approve of the job we’re doing.”

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