The facts behind claims by Brown, Hogan

Who fudged the facts in the Brown-Hogan debate?

Here are the facts behind some of the claims made by Republican Larry Hogan and Democrat Anthony Brown in their second televised debate:

Maryland's 2013 gun law: During the debate, Hogan said the only problem he had with the gun bill was that it didn't go far enough to help guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. That appears to be at odds with comments he made during the primary. At a June 12 GOP candidate forum, Hogan was asked what could be done about the new law, also Senate Bill 281. At the time, Hogan said: "It think it's unlikely that it's going to be repealed given that the Democrats in the legislature just rammed it through. But I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I opposed SB 281. There are things we can do administratively at the executive branch level to change some of the definitions, and so that we're making it easier for law-abiding citizens to own firearms."

School construction: Brown repeatedly charged that Hogan plans to cut $450 million from the state's school construction budget. Hogan replied, as he has before, that he won't cut a penny from school construction, but Brown hasn't dropped the claim. The figure comes from a list of supposedly wasteful spending the Hogan campaign put out and attributed to auditors; the campaign erred when it included $450 million in school construction funds on the list. Hogan acknowledged the mistake Monday, but said he's confident he can find $2 billion in state spending to cut.

Lost businesses: Hogan pointed to a statistic showing 8,688 businesses have been "lost" from the state under Gov. Martin O'Malley. The number is accurate, though Hogan blames all the losses on state rather than national conditions. According to U.S. Census data for the first five years of the O'Malley administration — the most recent available — the number of businesses in Maryland dropped by 7.5 percent. The decrease nationally was 6 percent. So Maryland lost about 1,700 more companies than it would have if it matched the national average. The Census Bureau doesn't say why a business left a state — whether it moved, went out of business or merged with another firm.

Fund 'lockbox": Hogan criticized the O'Malley-Brown administration for "stealing" $1.3 billion in "trust funds" normally dedicated to environmental purposes – the best known of which is Program Open Space —- by breaking a "lockbox." That money was transferred to general use when revenues fell short during the recession. Over the years, governors of both parties have sought legislative approval to transfer money in times of revenue shortfall. O'Malley replaced much of the open space money with bonds to keep the program going. While a case can be made that such environmental programs should be treated as trust funds, they don't have that legal status. There is no "lockbox" provision.

—Michael Dresser and Erin Cox

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