FARM LEASE TO BE BID: The O’Malley administration backed down Wednesday from its proposal to lease a Kent County farm to a politically connected nonprofit for $1 a year, promising to rebid the contract competitively, reports the Sun’s Michael Dresser. The move likely pushes the decision about whether to pursue the deal into the administration of Gov.-elect Larry Hogan, who might not view it as favorably as his predecessor. A spokesman for Hogan had no comment Wednesday night.
- The state Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to buy the farm from owners Frederick and Mary Wick, then issue a formal request for proposals from nonprofit organizations on what to do with the leasable acreage.
STATE DEFENDS TAX ON OUT-OF-STATE INCOME: Bill Turque reports for the Post that Maryland’s acting solicitor general told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the state has the right to tax all income that residents earn in other states in order to help pay for local government services they enjoy, such as schools and police and fire protection.
REFORM REDISTRICTING: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital writes that, in the gubernatorial election, both candidates were on record for redistricting reform; victorious Republican Larry Hogan told the Capital Gazette editorial board he favors having the lines drawn by an independent, nonpartisan commission. Now that he has the chance, we urge him to do all he can to move the state toward that goal.
$600 MILLION BUDGET GAP: The uphill climb Gov.-elect Larry Hogan faces to fulfill his campaign promises and reduce state spending and taxes was starkly illustrated in a legislative hearing on spending Wednesday, reports Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.
- Maryland faces a shortfall of nearly $600 million in its next operating budget and larger gaps in years to come, legislative analysts said Wednesday, a fiscal forecast that poses an immediate challenge to Gov.-elect Larry Hogan, the Washington Post reports.
- Budget analysts told a joint legislative committee that a sluggish economy and lower-than-expected revenue will leave a $291 million budget deficit in the current year. An additional $593 million structural gap is projected for the fiscal 2016 budget — a budget that mostly will be the work product of Gov. Martin O’Malley, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
HARE V. TORTOISE: Goucher College’s Mileah Kromer in an op-ed for the Sun writes that, in the race for governor, pollsters, pundits and the media were busy talking about how unlikely it would be to beat the hare, instead of focusing on the progression of the tortoise. … in regard to polls in the echo chamber, the issue is not that the polls were talking to the media and pundits. The real issue is that not enough polls were conducted following the debates and leading up to Election Day.
WHY BROWN? Laslo Boyd of Center Maryland ponders whether Democrats in Maryland should be worried following the election of Larry Hogan for governor, among other Republicans elected in the state. He offers an analysis of why Anthony Brown lost so badly. But says that it’s important to dig deeper than saying that he was a particularly ineffective candidate who ran a dreadful campaign. Why was he chosen in the first place without closer scrutiny?
HOGAN TAPS NEALL: Gov.-elect Larry Hogan named a widely respected former state senator to his transition team Wednesday, the same day experts warned that Maryland’s budget will require about $900 million in belt-tightening, Erin Cox and Michael Dresser report in the Sun.
- Robert Neall, a former Democratic lawmaker who remains well known in Annapolis, will handle state budget issues for Hogan’s transition team, writes John Wagner in the Post.
- Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports that Neall, a Davidsonville resident, served one term as county executive, from 1990 to 1994. Hogan called him “the most respected fiscal mind in the state … He left the Republican Party in 1999 to become a Democrat, but we aren’t going to hold that against him.”
- Lejla Sarcevic of CNS reports that Hogan, who ran on a policy of cutting spending and taxes, has crossed the aisle by selecting Neall, a Democrat who switched parties during his state Senate tenure in 1999 due to feeling increasingly “uncomfortable and unwelcome” within the Republican party, according to Capital News Service reports from the time. The story appears in the Salisbury Daily Times.
DELAY IS DEATH FOR RED LINE: Is the Red Line rail project dead? It’s a $2.9 billion effort. Advocates say it will re-energize the Baltimore region. But word on the street says it’s dead, opines Fraser Smith in a commentary for WYPR-FM. The man who may know, governor-elect Larry Hogan won’t say. Maybe even he doesn’t know. He’s suddenly got a lot on his plate.
CONOWINGO REPORT: Dredging millions of tons of sediment from the Susquehanna River upriver of the Conowingo Dam would potentially cost billions of dollars and do little to help the Chesapeake Bay compared with cleanup efforts already underway, a new federal-state study found, according to Tim Wheeler in the Sun.
NEW GOP LEADER, WHIP: Maryland Senate Republicans Wednesday elected Sen. J.B. Jennings of Baltimore County as their new minority leader and Sen. Chris Shank of Washington County as the new minority whip. Jennings and Shank both promised to strongly support Gov.-elect Larry Hogan Jr. in his goal of reducing spending and taxes, according to MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick.
KITTLEMAN’S TRANSITION TEAM: Howard County Executive-elect Allan Kittleman on Wednesday announced the remaining 12 members of his transition team and discussed their task as he prepares to take office Dec. 1, report Amanda Yeager and Luke Lavoie of the Howard County Times.
GOP OUTVOTES DEMS IN WA CO: Unofficial figures released this week by the Washington County Board of Elections show that 21,153 Republicans and 12,818 Democrats voted in last week’s general election, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.
UM HAS BIGGEST STATE PAYCHECKS: If you’re looking for the biggest state paychecks in the Old Line State, you’ll find them at the University of Maryland-College Park, writes Drew Hansen. That’s according to data provided by Maryland’s Central Payroll Bureau and compiled by the Washington Business Journal.