Gov. Larry Hogan acknowledged Thursday that he will not renew his effort to roll back the gas tax increases put in place by former Gov. Martin O'Malley and the Maryland General Assembly -- money Hogan is now using for a $2 billion highway-building program and a proposed increase in state aid for local road projects.
Hogan, a Republican, also ruled out any effort to scale back O'Malley's hotly-contested 2013 gun control law despite calls from conservatives in his party for him to launch what would almost certainly be a futile effort.
Hogan, who proposed such a gas tax cut when he first took office last year, noted that the legislature overwhelmingly rejected that proposal.
"We're not going to do that again," he said during a news confrence at the State House.
O'Malley persuaded lawmakers in 2013 to pass the first increase in the state's gasoline tax in two decades after state business leaders and large county governments pleaded that the frozen levy was no longer bringing in enough revenue to meet the state's road and transit needs. That measure passed with the support of assembly Democrats over united Republican opposition.
The measure increased what was then a 23.5-cent-a-gallon gas tax in stages, but also indexed future increases to inflation -- a provision that Hogan and other Republicans found particularly objectionable.
In what Democrats saw as a nod to his base, Hogan sought to block three incremental increases and repeal indexing. But the measure was shelved after legislative analysts estimated its cost in lost transportation revenue at about $1.5 billion through 2020.
After the measure's defeat, Hogan refocused his transportation strategy on changing spending priorities. He canceled the $2.9 billion Red Line light rail project and shifted much of the state money that would have gone to it into new highway projects around the state -- many of them in heavily-Republican areas.
At the news conference, Hogan was asked whether he would act on a recommendation from a local official that he seek to undo O'Malley's gun law -- one of the most restrictive in the country.
But Hogan, who campaigned on a pledge to focus on economic issues, declined.