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Four takeaways from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's State of the State speech

Four takeaways from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's State of the State speech
Republican legislators stand and applaud Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, after various points made by Gov. Larry Hogan during his State of the State address in the House of Delegates chamber in Annapolis. (Amy Davis / The Baltimore Sun)

Gov. Larry Hogan declared in his fifth State of the State speech that “the state of our state has never been stronger.”

Here are some key takeaways from Hogan’s remarks.

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No broad-based tax cut for Marylanders

Speaking at a televised event earlier in the week, Hogan promised “another major tax cut” would be coming in the State of the State speech.

But the governor did not unveil Wednesday any big cut to income, property or sales taxes — as some had hoped for and that Democrats were preparing to oppose.

Hogan did tout a series of targeted tax-relief programs he has discussed already, including making more retirement income exempt from taxes, giving tax breaks to businesses in federally designated opportunity zones, allowing Marylanders to deduct interest paid on student loans from their state taxes, and tax breaks to small businesses that offer parental leave to employees.

If those and other proposals are approved, it would total more than $500 million in tax relief, according to the Hogan administration.

Hogan talked to the audience in front of him — and not beyond

The “Never Trumpers” and national political pundits who are looking to see whether Hogan might seek the Republican nomination for president in 2020 didn’t find much new in the speech.

While Hogan repeated many of his favorite lines about “common-sense solutions” and finding “a way to disagree without being disagreeable,” much of the speech focused on his accomplishments in Maryland and his state legislative initiatives.

In addition to his tax-relief proposals, Hogan made pitches for his bills that would: create an inspector general for public schools, expand job training, require nonpartisan congressional redistricting, stiffen penalties for repeat violent offenders who use guns, and fund school construction with revenue from casinos in Maryland.

No new policy proposals

Hogan did not unveil any new policy proposals.

Each of the proposals he mentioned has already been introduced as legislation pending before the General Assembly.

And he’s touted many of his ideas already at recent public events and news conferences.

Rolling with the punches

Early in the speech, Hogan had to improvise when the teleprompters briefly went out. As Hogan quoted a line from his 2015 inaugural speech about avoiding divisive politics, he opened a binder and flipped a page.

“The teleprompter just went out,” Hogan said, smiling, as the audience chuckled. “So, I’m going to read the speech. How about that?”

Hogan then went right back to his prepared text, with a line about avoiding partisan extremes and seeking middle ground.

The teleprompters soon got back online and he finished the speech without incident.

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Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat who served from 1995 until 2003, attended Wednesday’s speech. He said he had a teleprompter failure during one of his State of the State speeches, too.

“They got it going on one side, so I ended up looking to the left for the most part,” Glendening said. “After I had all this training of how you look to one side, you pause in the middle, and you look to the other side — and there was no other side! Interestingly, it was the right side that clapped, so it was OK.”

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