Government at every level, we all agree, ought to serve the people and spend their tax dollars wisely. And our three branches of government ought to be working and cooperating together to reach these noble goals.
Recent moves by the Hogan administration throw the governor’s commitment to these goals into serious question.
One recent audit of Maryland’s Behavioral Health Administration has revealed little to no oversight of the grants the agency makes. One Hogan administration grantee reportedly serviced only two thirds of the opioid addiction treatment slots that the state paid that grantee to treat. Another grantee apparently was required to hire former employees of the state department overseeing the grant.
Governor Hogan’s higher education commission has missed so many deadlines that the state’s new College Promise program — an effort that makes community college free for young people from most Maryland families — will likely not be ready for all the students and families counting on help for the upcoming school year.
Also just made public: The Hogan administration has failed to fully implement a new state scholarship program that aims to attract high-achieving high school grads into a teaching career in high-needs schools — via full tuition, and room and board. This has meant the loss of $2 million last year and may mean the loss of much of this year’s $2 million directed to recruit our best and brightest to enter into teacher preparation, a recommendation of the recently concluded blue-ribbon Kirwan Commission.
More irony: Governor Hogan recently announced his administration’s decision to withhold $56 million from the mass-transit Metro system that serves the D.C. area. The governor claims Metro officials are exercising poor oversight over the transit network and failing to complete necessary audits. Governor Hogan’s claims are receiving “you tell them, governor” plaudits from Marylanders who never set foot in public transportation — or just enjoy watching attacks on anything related to D.C., a city with a large African-American population.
People, like our governor, who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. But the hypocrisy here goes much deeper than that old adage suggests. Governor Hogan has a fundamentally flawed approach to governing. He panders to our state’s worst instincts and takes no responsibility for his own administration’s failures.
The governor, for instance, recently earned cheers from commuters when he announced his second reduction of Maryland tolls. And why not? His cuts put a few more dollars into commuter pockets, meeting a very real immediate need. Unfortunately, the governor failed to tell these very same drivers that the state will now have less money available to pay for much needed bridge and road repairs.
Governor Hogan has been quick to attack others or pander to voters if the result might increase his popularity. But he has been slow to truly lead his state, even blind to his responsibly to govern responsibly. Governor Hogan needs to take responsibility for the opioid-addicted patients not receiving care, the high school grads who won’t be entering community college and benefiting from free tuition, and the continuing shortage of high-quality educators for Maryland’s classrooms.
Let’s hope the governor, from here on out, keeps his pandering in the rearview mirror. His eyes ought to be on the road ahead and improving the performance of his own administration’s management of our state.
Paul G. Pinsky (email@example.com) serves in the Maryland Senate and representing Prince George’s County. He serves as chairman of the Education, Health and Environment Committee.