The Louis L. Goldstein State Treasury Building

Democrats want state to spend more, Hogan promises to spend less

Democratic legislators voted Wednesday to spend as much as they could in next year's state budget, while Gov. Larry Hogan's budget secretary told them that wherever they set the spending ceiling, the governor would ask for less. In another straight party line vote, the Spending Affordability Committee also set the limit on new state debt $60 million higher (6%) than the $995 million Hogan had sought.

Howard Husock of the Manhattan Institute, right, questions Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford.

Hogan administration commits to get more jobs for ex-offenders to keep them from returning to prison

The Hogan administration is jumping with both feet into efforts to reduce the prison population and make re-entry of ex-convicts into society easier by getting them jobs. Simultaneously with a release from Gov. Larry Hogan, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford announced the formation of a new task force to review the legal barriers that people with a criminal record face when re-entering the community after time in prison.

Chart high income low income

Md. revenues grow slightly, but middle class incomes stagnate

The good news on Maryland revenues is that there is no more bad news and some slight growth, leading to calls of "restrained optimism" and "caution" by top state officials. But the sobering news underlining the on-target revenue projections for this year and next is that they are only growing at 3 to 4% because middle class incomes have been largely flat. The slower growth with a static economy is the new normal for a state that had been used to 5% overall growth.

Donald Trump as a sumo wrestler in GOP debate. By DonkeyHotey with Flickr Creatives Commons License

Vatz on GOP Las Vegas debate: Rubio shines, Christie stands out and Trump makes important pledge

The Republicans faced an inextricable bind as they entered into the last GOP debate of the year. If they didn't seriously confront Donald Trump and his nasty, uninformed and prejudicial rhetoric and exclusionary policy recommendations against honored Americans and major religions respectively, they would be depicted by Democrats as gutless. If they did do that, they would run the risk of angering Trump to sufficiently motivate him to run as an independent, virtually guaranteeing the 2016 election to Hillary. Trump's answer to that question in the debate may transform the election.

Comptroller Peter Franchot, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Baltimore County Council member David  Marks visited Kingsville Elementary School during National Education Week in November.

Franchot steamed as legislature’s representatives defer school air conditioning plan

What began at least four years ago as a personal crusade by Comptroller Peter Franchot to get air conditioning for hot Baltimore County classrooms has now turned into a cause celebre involving the governor, his cabinet secretaries and the presiding officers of the Maryland General Assembly. The heat on this political pot was turned up last week when Tim Maloney, a former delegate who represents the Senate on the Interagency Committee on School Construction, proposed deferring action on a plan to allow $15 million to be used to put room air conditioners in 1,561 classrooms. Most of them are in Baltimore County (1,109) and Baltimore City (416).

North Carroll High School  will close due to declining enrollment

Rascovar: Education politics at the State House

He masks it well, but Gov. Larry Hogan, Jr. plays a good game of partisan politics. Behind that smile and friendly voice is a fierce Republican eager to further the conservative cause. Education is a prime example of Hogan’s conservative partisanship trumping over sound public policy.

Gov. Larry Hogan addresses Maryland Association of Counties conference.

Hogan gets warm welcome from county officials, promises to restore road funding, collaborate

overnors traditionally get a warm welcome from the local elected and appointed officials at the winter conference of the Maryland Association of Counties. But Thursday’s night welcome for Gov. Larry Hogan at the dinner installing new MACo officers at the Cambridge Hyatt Regency was particularly loud and boisterous, with standing ovations at the beginning and end of a short 12-minute speech that delivered standard talking points from the governor.

AFSCME President Patrick Moran

State employees protest lack of new contract or response to proposals

Gov. Larry Hogan will host the annual holiday party for state employees Thursday afternoon at the governor's mansion. But outside Government House, members of the state's largest public employee union, AFSCME, plan on protesting what they say is the administration's failure to negotiate a new contract or respond to any union proposals, despite a Dec. 31 deadline in state law.

Gov. Larry Hogan announces Regulatory Reform Commission Report. Photo by Governor's Office

Commission recommends overhaul of state government, streamlining regulations and improved customer service

Gov. Larry Hogan's Regulatory Reform Commission is recommending a massive overhaul of Maryland's "convoluted" governmental structure along with a host of small and medium-size changes to streamline regulations and focus state employees on helping businesses and citizens.

"We have to fundamentally change the mindset of the state's regulatory mission from one of glaring bureaucracy looking to punish and change it into a customer service base," Hogan said as he touted the commission's initial 30-page report.