Hogan riding high with 74% approval; Trump in the dumps

Gov. Larry Hogan is still riding high among Maryland voters, with the latest poll showing his job approval rating at 74%; even two-thirds of Democrats say the Republican governor is doing a good job. The Gonzales Research poll released Thursday is the fifth public opinion survey in the last four months that has found seven out of 10 voters or more approving the job Hogan is doing as governor.

Part 6 Columbia at 50 EDUCATION: Schools Were Crucial Then and Now

Part 6 in this series of 12 essays leading to Columbia’s 50th birthday next June examines the planning and transformation of a small, rural, recently desegregated school system with middling rankings to one of the best school systems in the country. Howard County now has 76 schools with 54,000 children and 4,100 teachers, and they face the challenges of diversity, particularly in its urban core of Columbia. Links to all parts of the series published so far are at the bottom.

Knight Foundation will match gifts to MarylandReporter.com

MarylandReporter.com is one of 57 nonprofit news organizations from around the country that will receive matching grants for any donations received over the next month until Jan. 19. Any donation of any size up to $1,000 will be matched dollar for dollar by the Knight Foundation, a major funder of nonprofit journalism.

Billions more in school aid sought, but commissioners question results

Consultants are recommending that Maryland spend $2.9 billion more on public schools each year, a 29% overall increase. The state share would increase by $1.9 billion and the counties would pick up the rest, with some big winners and Montgomery County the biggest loser in the reallocation of school dollars. The commission that will actually make recommendations to the legislature next year about school funding got its first bite at a thick consulting report justifying the increased spending on Thursday, with members questioning the two-year study and its approach.

Advocates of public financing of local campaigns in Howard outspent opponents 10-1

Howard County voters approved setting up a system of public financing for people running for County Council and executive with a safe 7,500-vote margin, though the measure actually lost among people who voted on Election Day by 2,000 votes. Question A proponents — a coalition of good government and progressive groups outspent the organized opponents — mostly Republicans — at least 10 to 1 if in-kind support from progressive organizations is counted.

Major overhaul of state contracting proposed, along with hundreds of changes to regulations

The Hogan administration has unveiled a major overhaul of how billions in state contracts are bid and awarded, along with a revamping of hundreds of regulations designed to making doing business in Maryland easier. Few of the changes have broad impact on the public at large, but they impact hundreds of state contractors and thousands of professionals, such as a real estate agents and mortgage brokers.