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Hogan chided legislature for proposing too much spending. Fellow Republicans were the worst offenders

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan convened a news conference last week to blast lawmakers for trying to spend too much money.

The two biggest culprits happened to be fellow Republicans.

And the costliest proposal is an idea Hogan has also pushed.

Flanked on both sides by charts depicting runaway deficits, Hogan criticized the Democrat-controlled General Assembly — and implicitly Democrats in general — for being "reckless" and not heeding his call for restrained spending.

"Unfortunately, it would appear, that some members of the General Assembly are choosing to ignore fiscal responsibility all together," Hogan said during a 10-minute speech that was among his most direct attacks on lawmakers in a legislative session rife with partisan bickering.

"Instead of working with us in a bipartisan way to reduce mandated spending increases and hold the line on out-of-control spending, they are actually trying to dramatically increase mandated increases in spending by billions of dollars more," Hogan said.

"A whopping 85 new mandated increases in spending have been proposed totaling $3.7 billion over the next four years," Hogan continued. "Let me repeat that: $3.7 billion over the next four years, in additional new, forced increases in spending. That means every single day since legislators have been here back in Annapolis — every single day — they proposed $80 million more in mandating spending increases. Every single day."

Hours later, when his staff released the list of bills that added up to $3.7 billion, it was clear that two Republican proposals account for 34.5 percent of the spending Hogan vilified.

The second-most expensive was a plan by Baltimore County Del. John Cluster, a Republican, to put a police officer into every single school in the state. The four-year tab: $434 million.

The most expensive idea came from Republican Del. Neil Parrott of Washington County, who suggested requiring that more money from gas taxes go to local governments. Hogan has also championed the policy. The four-year cost to state taxpayers: $856 million.

Hogan spokesman Matthew A. Clark said the governor was aware Republican proposals were the greatest contributors to the tally. He said the governor isn't opposed to spending, he's opposed to lawmakers passing laws that mandate how the governor spends money.

"It's about mindset," Clark said. "It's not about power or policy. It's about changing the mindset. Often, the immediate response of the legislature is a mandate."

Citing his poll numbers as evidence the public backed him over state lawmakers, Hogan went on to press his case that legislators should pass a law limiting when they can impose spending mandates on the governor.

So far, lawmakers have given no signal they plan to acquiesce.

"The governor can't make a credible case for mandate relief when Republican lawmakers are among the legislature's worst offenders," said Pat Murray, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party. "He missed an opportunity when he failed to get those guys on board. We know the governor doesn't like to talk to Democrats in the legislature. I guess he doesn't like talking to the Republicans, either."

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