Rascovar on Hogan’s ‘placeholder’ address

Rascovar on Hogan’s ‘placeholder’ address

By Barry Rascovar

For MarylandReporter.com

Just as Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. delivered to the General Assembly a ‘placeholder’ budget that lets him tread water till he wraps his arms about the state’s fiscal problems next year, he followed that same path in delivering his State of the State address.

It was a ‘placeholder’ speech.

He said little that was new. He offered no surprises or initiatives. All that might come next year.

It sounded more like a re-hash of his campaign themes — as though his speech-writers slapped together a speech from the Hogan for Governor files.

No wonder Republicans applauded and Democrats responded with seething silence.

Taxes are too high. We’re overregulated. We need to get government off our backs. We’re anti-business. Maryland is in trouble. It’s headed in the wrong direction.

Sure, Maryland is beautiful. Its citizens are hard working. But we’ve got to “get Maryland back on track.”

Economic turnaround

He pledged, for instance, to turn around Maryland’s economy.

Who is he kidding?

Maryland, like all states, is at the mercy of large, macro-economic trends and developments.

When bad weather pummels the East Coast, Maryland’s economy suffers. There’s not a thing Hogan or any governor can do about it.

When Congress sequesters federal funds going to the states, there’s not a thing Hogan or any governor can do to stop it from happening.

When companies send jobs overseas, there’s not much a Maryland governor can do.

When the nation’s economy tanks, Hogan can’t make that reality disappear.

Limited role

Like any governor, Hogan only can nibble around the edges to strengthen Maryland’s economy and create jobs.

He is fortunate in that the national economy continues to show slow, steady improvement. If that persists, Hogan will be a beneficiary. But he can’t claim to have helped cause it.

His State of the State address laid out a number of steps he wants to take in his first year, but few of them are realistic or achievable.

They are far too partisan.

Abolish the “rain tax.” Cut taxes. Promote charter schools. Spend more on roads. Make redistricting non-partisan. Eliminate upward gas tax adjustments.

That’s good Republican red meat.

Democrats’ response

It did not, though, win him any new friends across the aisle.

Hogan struck out with Democratic leaders. He offered them nothing in the speech. They responded with coolness, followed by sharp criticism.

Then they held up approval of his cabinet appointments.

The battle lines are hardening far earlier than anticipated.

Hogan’s speech was so short on specifics as to make it a useless document for determining how this governor intends to find common ground with Democratic lawmakers.

There was a dearth of intellectual depth, a dearth of new ideas and a dearth of inspiring rhetoric.

If there is any reason for optimism it comes from this line in Hogan’s address:

“And while I’m sure we will disagree on a few points in the coming weeks, I am prepared to create an environment of trust and cooperation, one in which the best ideas rise to the top based upon their merit, regardless of which side of the political debate they come from.”

Nice sentiments, to be sure. But it is in the follow-up that we will discover whether those thoughts are mere platitudes or a commitment Hogan intends to abide by.

Barry Rascovar’s blog can be found at www.politicalmaryland.com. He can be reached at brascovar@hotmail.com.


  1. Vidi

    I agree with Mr. Rascovar that the speech was uninspiring. The governor needs to get a better speechwriter. Regarding the problems facing Maryland, instead of listing them as “in-your-face” talking points, he could have used them as a launching point to list how he would change them into successes. The Dems have had a tough time accepting his victory. He does not need to rub it in with hard-to-swallow facts.

  2. MD observer

    Hogan is the opposite of a (insert oxymoron) “professional politician” which explains his rough start. He offered the dems nothing specific because he had nothing, what’s wrong with that?

  3. JGwen

    When we, the citizenry, look at the figures relating to this State’s financial position, there is no question we are in trouble. We have been spending and borrowing too much. We’ve been wasting moneys, exemplified by our ACA implementation. We have gone beyond common sense with ingesting federal “carrots,” that will result in mushrooming State expenditures going forward. We have expended substantial moneys buying public lands. We have accepted substantial numbers of south american new arrivals to be subsidized and offered other opportunities that might better be offered Maryland citizens. We set out provisions for energy that will result in additional bleeds on State rate payers/State taxpayers.

    Many responsible businesses and citizens have elected to depart for more responsible environs.

    For members of the State’s prevailing party to elect to behave like today’s Greeks is at best demoralizing and at worst maddening. To say Maryland is at the mercy of macro-economic and natural phenomena is only increase the need for responsible budgeting. A Pollyanna position that continuing to spend and spend and borrow and tax can continue – and promote a viable environment is simply untenable.

    at the mercy of large, macro-economic trends and developments – See
    more at:

    • Dale McNamee

      Nicely put, JGwen ! Too bad that Mr. Rascovar can’t comprehend it…