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At PBS event in Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan promises to announce 'major tax cut'

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday night promised to announce plans for a “major tax cut” when he delivers his annual “State of the State” speech Wednesday.

Speaking at a panel discussion about bipartisanship in today’s heated political environment at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre on North Avenue, Hogan decried dysfunction in Washington while pledging to focus on fiscal issues in Maryland.

“We’re going to have another major tax cut Wednesday when I deliver my State of the State address,” Hogan told the crowd.

During his first term, the Republican governor supported tax cuts to military pensions, reductions to tolls on state highways and expanding tax refunds for the working poor — totaling about $900 million in reductions to tolls, taxes and fees. Hogan often credits his administration with providing $1.2 billion in tax cuts, though that figure includes hundreds of millions of refunds from a Supreme Court ruling on a lawsuit that was filed before he took office.

In Hogan’s latest budget, he proposes more tax cuts, including expanding tax credits for manufacturers and law enforcement officers’ retirement benefits, as well as increasing the tax deduction on student loan interest.

Hogan was joined in the discussion by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican. The Johns Hopkins University Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute sponsored the “PBS NewsHour” event called “Divided Nation, United States.” It was moderated by PBS News’ Judy Woodruff.

Much of the discussion centered on the dysfunctional state of America’s federal government and the recent government shutdown prompted by President Donald Trump’s insistence on funding for a wall on the country’s border with Mexico.

Hogan said he believed the country does need better border security and immigration policy but that neither should come at the expense of shutting down the government and hurting federal employees. He did not name Trump or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but described them as acting like “2-year-olds.”

“You don’t have to throw temper tantrums. You don’t have to shut down the government,” Hogan said.

In recent weeks, Hogan has entertained speculation he might run in the 2020 Republican primary against Trump.

Maryland’s governor has repeatedly said he has no plans to run but that he’s leaving the door open.

“Who knows what’s going to happen two years from now?” Hogan told the sold-out crowd Monday.

The governor also endorsed the idea of open primary elections. When Woodruff pointed out that that proposal isn’t popular with national party leaders, Hogan replied: “Don’t care.”

The governor also joked about the weak state of the Republican Party in Maryland.

Asked whether there’s an internal fight in the Maryland GOP, Hogan says there are too few Republicans in the state to even have a debate. “I just argue with myself,” he said.

About 25 percent of Maryland voters are Republicans.

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