In 23 minutes Wednesday, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan delivered the final State of the State address of his four-year term, a speech that went over well with Carroll County’s delegation to Annapolis.
Hogan’s speech covered a number of topics, including economic gains made during his tenure, the opioid crisis, education funding and tougher sentencing for violent offenders. Numerous times he called for bipartisanship, and called for Maryland leaders to compromise and transcend politics.
“Our state was at a crossroads, and we faced a pivotal choice: A choice between continuing in the same direction or putting Maryland on a new and better path,” Hogan said during his address. “And all of us had to make a choice between serving a political party or serving the people of Maryland. One need only look to Washington to see the destruction that is caused when hyperpartisanship and inflammatory rhetoric permeate the debate and erode our faith in the institutions of government.”
And though some Democrats throughout the Maryland General Assembly spent much of the speech seated without applause, members of Carroll County’s delegation, all of whom are Republicans, thought it highlighted key achievements and led the way for the next year’s goals.
Del. Susan Krebs, R-District 5, said she was disappointed in the Democrats’ behavior during the speech, but added his speech focused on leading by action and gave a strong agenda.
“The governor had a wonderful State of the State today,” she said, adding she is pleased with the progress Maryland has seen in three years under his leadership. “He really talked about working together in a bipartisan fashion.”
Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-District 5, also said the address was “even keeled” and said it really underlined all of the strides they’ve made as a state during Hogan’s tenure. The speech “hit all of the right chords,” he added.
Shoemaker applauded Hogan’s commitment to education, his push to get drug dealers off the streets and his three years of repeated tax cuts — something Shoemaker said is a “fan favorite” of his.
“He’s funding education at record levels, even going above and beyond the formula,” Shoemaker said of the governor’s budget.
Del. April Rose, R-District 5, also praised Hogan’s education funding, pointing to the additional money jurisdictions will see this year. Carroll is set to receive nearly $100,000 in additional money from the state.
Rose said while it’s not millions of dollars, every amount helps.
“To me education is a bipartisan issue and I really hope we can move forward,” she said.
Hogan spent time during his address to focus on the opioid crisis, and pulled a photo from his jacket of him with 29-year-old Army veteran Chad Book and Book’s mother, Karen Dolch, taken when Book graduated from welding school.
Book died from a fentanyl and opioid overdose in December, and the governor told lawmakers they must remember the human toll of the crisis as they look for solutions.
“Chad’s mom, Karen, is here with us today,” Hogan said in his address. “She wanted to honor Chad by showing us that, when we talk about this crisis, we are really talking about fighting for all the Chads and the Karens out there — for all the lives cut too short and all the families that will never be the same. That’s why no matter how hard it is, we cannot ever give up this fight.”
Sen. Justin Ready, R-District 5, said it was moving to have Dolch come to the General Assembly and called that portion of Hogan’s address moving.
“I think the governor should be commended for taking this very seriously,” Ready added.
Carroll continues to struggle and fight the issue locally, he said, and they need to continue to do more.
Ready commended the governor for working to try to go after gangs that are pushing the drugs, in addition to putting more money helping those struggling with addition, tackling both the “enforcement and treatment” sides of the issue.
Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox contributed to this article.