HOGAN TEASES WITH “TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE” BUDGET: Gov. Larry Hogan outlined a state budget proposal Tuesday that he said would reduce spending next year without cutting services or increasing taxes. In a news conference at the State House, the Republican governor outlined broad details of the plan that will be presented to the Democratic-controlled General Assembly today, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports. The article is topped by a video of the announcement.
- Hogan promised a $43.5 billion state budget that would shrink spending and close an estimated $750 million deficit, yet increase funding for key programs such as education and the public safety net, Josh Hicks of the Post reports.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that Hogan made the announcement — without specific details or budget books for the press — during a morning news conference that followed a breakfast meeting at Government House with Democratic and Republican fiscal leaders. “It sounds too good to be true, but it really is true,” Hogan said, adding that “almost nothing” was cut.
- There will be no new taxes, Hogan said. But given recent reports of revenue shortfalls, how did he do it? Hogan said some of the previous budget surplus would be used to pay down the fiscal 2018 budget, and that some programs had lower caseloads and would require less spending, reports Tamela Baker in the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Also he said some of the spending mandates approved by the Maryland General Assembly last year would not be funded.
- Hogan’s budget won’t include funding for a downtown Frederick hotel and conference center project when it is unveiled today — but that doesn’t mean the project won’t be funded within the next 12 weeks. Maryland Budget Secretary David Brinkley, a former state senator from Frederick County, confirmed that the money won’t be included in the governor’s proposed budget, though he expects that lawmakers will add it later, Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News Post reports.
- Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports that Senate President Mike Miller said, “It was a very rosy picture.” Baltimore City Del. Maggie McIntosh said, “What I know so far is all the wonderful things we’re supposed to know about the budget, which is it funded education, funded jobs, is doing a lot of great things in public safety. But what we don’t know is where did that money come from?”
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STATE POLICE AUDIT: Maryland taxpayers could save $11 million annually if 127 of the current 1,426 uniformed positions in the Maryland State Police were replaced with civilian employees, according to a report released by the Office of Legislative Audits. The audit found the positions were not involved in daily law enforcement activities. Dan Menefee writes in MarylandReporter.com. The savings would be found in lower salaries and fringe benefits attributed to civilian employees, which would include a $7.8 million reduction in annual pension costs.
MVA PUSH ON SELF-DRIVING CARS: The state’s Motor Vehicle Administration is advocating legislation that would transfer regulatory power of self-driving cars to the agency and the state police, saying the change may improve safety on Maryland roads and reduce human error, reports Carrie Snurr for Capital News Service.
HATE-CRIME PROTECTION FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT: A Senate committee heard testimony regarding a proposal to extend Maryland hate-crime protections to law enforcement officers. The bill, originally titled The Blue Lives Matter Act of 2017, adds language to the Police Protection Act defining a law enforcement officer and protections given to officers to the existing Maryland hate crimes law, Carrie Snurr of CNS reports.
HIXSON STEPS DOWN FROM WAYS & MEANS CHAIR: Del. Sheila Hixson announced Tuesday that she’s giving up her position as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Del. Anne Kaiser, also a Montgomery County Democrat, will take over as chairwoman. Del. William Frick, another Montgomery County Democrat, will replace Kaiser as majority leader, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
- Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that House Speaker Michael E. Busch said Hixson will become “chairman emeritus” as of Friday.
- Hixson, who represents the district that includes Silver Spring and Takoma Park, has been the head of the committee that oversees legislation on taxes, education financing, gambling and elections since 1993, Andrew Metcalf reports in Bethesda Beat.
ASTLE TO RUN FOR ANNAPOLIS MAYOR: The Annapolis mayoral race grew on Tuesday with Maryland Sen. John Astle, D-Annapolis, confirming a run for mayor. Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports that while Astle hasn’t filed for the race yet, he discussed his intentions Tuesday. He plans to file in a few weeks and continues to flesh out his election platform.
REFUNDS FOR POWER SWITCH: Jeff Salkin of MPT interviews Maryland’s People’s Counsel Paula Carmody, who says that customers of Xoom Energy Maryland LLC have until Jan. 23 to claim refunds for being switched without notice from fixed to uncapped variable cost power. Carmody tells MPT’s Direct Connection program that despite some high-pressure and misleading sales tactics in the industry, there’s been a 5% drop in Marylanders choosing competitive power suppliers. The interview happens within the first 15 minutes of the half-hour program.
SRB TO JOIN ABC: Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Tuesday she is joining ABC News as a political contributor. Rawlings-Blake will begin on-air work on Friday, offering analysis of the inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump, Luke Broadwater writes in the Sun.
METRO REFORMS TARGETED: Two local members of Congress are preparing legislation to reshape Metro’s governing structure by forcing the District, Virginia and Maryland to rewrite the transit agency’s 50-year-old compact. The separate initiatives by U.S. Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) and John Delaney (D-Md.) reflect a growing sentiment in the Washington region that Metro’s problems can be fixed only with fundamental reforms in how the three jurisdictions oversee, manage and fund the agency, reports Robert McCartney and Jenna Portnoy for the Post.
CORDISH JOINS TRUMP TEAM: Reed S. Cordish, a partner at the Cordish Cos. and longtime friend of the Trump family will serve as an assistant to the president, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team announced on Tuesday. Cordish will serve as an assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, John Fritze reports for the Sun.
RASKIN REVERSES ON INAUGURATION: John Fritze and Jeff Barker of the Sun report that freshman Rep. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County, who represents the state’s 8th Congressional District, announced his decision not to attend Donald Trump’s inauguration just days after saying in an interview that he viewed attending the ceremony as a “constitutional duty” and that he did not want to “run away from this.” He said he could not stomach the Republican’s “relentless trafficking in bigotry, misogyny and fear.”
- “These are not normal times and I cannot pretend as if they are. The moral and political legitimacy of this presidency are in the gravest doubt,” Raskin said in a statement. Jenna Portnoy of the Post writes that Raskin said that he also takes issue with Trump’s business entanglements with foreign governments and corporations and denial of Russia’s efforts to influence the election.
- Bethany Rodgers of Bethesda Beat reports that Raskin said, “But, as the hour approaches, I realize that I cannot bring myself to go.”
DEBATE, DIVISION ON SANCTUARY HO CO: A microcosm of the national immigration debate flared in Howard County’s packed government chambers Tuesday night as more than 500 community members staked a divided stand on a bill that would label Howard County as a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants, Fatimah Waseem of the Howard County Times reports.