Tag Archives: Larry Hogan

Hogan’s Transportation Scam

By Adam Pagnucco.

A looming crisis threatens to devastate Maryland’s transportation program.  As much as one-third of the state’s transportation project spending could be at risk.  Key projects will be delayed, perhaps some indefinitely.  Is this because of the transportation transparency law that Governor Larry Hogan wants repealed?

No, not at all.  The real problem is something much more mundane, something Hogan does not want to talk about: a gaping budget hole.

The Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) is a segregated fund used to finance Maryland’s transportation programs.  Its largest sources of revenue are motor fuel taxes, titling taxes, registration fees and other Motor Vehicle Administration fees.  It also receives a substantial amount of federal funding.  Its proceeds are used to finance the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) operating expenses as well as MDOT’s debt service and six-year capital program.  This means that funding for transportation capital projects is subject to variations in TTF revenue as well as changes in MDOT’s operating costs and debt service.

Page 43 of the Fiscal Briefing reviewed by the General Assembly last week shows a substantial deterioration in the TTF over the last year.  The briefing states:

The six-year State capital program in the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) fiscal 2017 through 2022 Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) forecast is $1.5 billion lower than in the prior year’s six-year program. Lower estimated revenue attainment, primarily motor vehicle fuel tax revenue, accounts for about half the decrease with higher projections for debt service and departmental operating expense spending accounting for the other half of the reduction in the capital program.

The briefing continues:

MDOT did not use the five-year average annual increase in operating expenses to calculate out-year operating expenses as directed in the 2016 Joint Chairmen’s Report. As a result, MDOT’s forecast likely understates operating expenses by $585 million over the forecast period, or just under 5%, and overstates the amount available for the capital program by $1.7 billion.

Translation: $1.5 billion in forecasted transportation spending, or 15% of the state’s six-year total, has disappeared in one year.  And the administration’s underestimating of MDOT’s operating expenses could cause the capital program to drop another $1.7 billion.

That’s right, folks: one-third of all funding for state transportation projects could be evaporating.

Now let’s be fair.  Governor Hogan does not control revenues for transportation, which are chiefly determined by the state of the economy.  Their substantial drop suggests that the economy is not doing as well as Hogan says it is.  The economy could get even worse if Republicans in Washington repeal the Affordable Care Act – something that would cost Maryland tens of thousands of jobs – and push through substantial cuts to federal agencies.  The Governor is also only in partial control of MDOT’s operating expenses, which include substantial amounts of materials and supplies purchased from private vendors.  Those expenses are squeezing money for transportation along with the revenue shortfalls.

But one thing the Governor does control is his own behavior.  A reasonable Governor acting in good faith would go to the General Assembly and say, “Look folks.  We have a problem here.  Let’s get together and figure out how to deal with it.”  That would be in line with the Governor’s regular calls for bipartisan cooperation.

Instead, the Governor has launched a Holy War against the General Assembly’s transportation transparency law, which merely requires him to justify the projects he chooses to fund.  He falsely claims that the law would require him to cancel projects when it does no such thing and even announced funding for one project a week after he said it would be killed.  Instead of working with members of the General Assembly to remedy a real budget problem that threatens transportation projects, he assaults them on Facebook about a fake problem that he has made up.

One of several Facebook posts the Governor is using to target state legislators.

It’s a scam, folks.  This Governor does not want to deal with an impending transportation crisis that is happening on his watch.  Instead, he is trying everything in his power to shift blame to Democrats in the state legislature.

Don’t fall for it.

Will Hogan Stand By as Republicans Destroy Health Care in Maryland?

By Adam Pagnucco.

President-Elect Donald Trump and the new Republican-controlled Congress are proceeding rapidly to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The law, a complicated amalgam of policy and funding requirements, has helped 20 million Americans gain health care coverage and has cut uninsured rates dramatically across many racial and ethnic groups.  Its repeal threatens to throw millions of Americans out of health care coverage, including hundreds of thousands of Marylanders.  And so far, Governor Larry Hogan is standing by silently and letting it happen.

The ACA has expanded health insurance coverage in two primary ways: setting up government-run health care exchanges and expanding Medicaid, the federal/state health insurance program for low-income people.  In Maryland, 146,808 people are currently enrolled for coverage through the state’s exchange, Maryland Health Connection.  The latter entity reports that roughly 278,000 more people are covered by the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid.  All told, more than 420,000 Marylanders have obtained health coverage through the ACA and two more weeks remain in the enrollment period.

Marylanders in every county are enrolled in the state’s health exchange.

Maryland Health Connection Enrollment 2017

Under the ACA, the federal government has invested a lot of money in increasing enrollment.  Maryland Health Connection reports that Maryland health care exchange participants receive about $225 million in annual federal tax credits to subsidize their individual health insurance premiums.  The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the federal government spent $5.7 billion on Medicaid in Maryland in Fiscal Year 2015.  These funding sources are now at risk.

Since it is a federal law, some changes to the ACA must pass a 60-vote hurdle to overcome filibusters in the U.S. Senate, where the GOP has just 52 seats.  But budget items are not subject to filibusters.  That means part or all of the above federal funding to support ACA enrollment could be eliminated in a budget passed solely with Republican votes and signed by President Trump.  If that happens, millions of Americans and possibly hundreds of thousands of Marylanders could lose their health coverage.

That’s not all.  The federal tax credits and Medicaid funding under the ACA support lots of jobs and income in the health care industry, and through the multiplier effect, the broader economy as well.  A new study from George Washington University estimates that if the ACA’s tax credits and Medicaid funding are repealed, Maryland will lose 52,000 jobs by 2019.  The study projects that Maryland will also lose $49 billion in business output and $982 million in state and local tax revenues from 2019 to 2023.  All of this would be on top of any federal agency cuts that Trump and the Republican Congress might include in their next budget.

Any Governor would be expected to jump up and down about the prospect of losing tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in tax revenues as well as having hundreds of thousands of constituents lose health care coverage.  But not Larry Hogan.  He has stayed silent as Donald Trump and his Republican colleagues in Washington plan to destroy health care in Maryland.  Hogan bristles at questions from reporters about anything going on in Washington, telling one of them that he was tired of “stupid questions about the Trump administration.”  And yet, the Trump administration’s actions will have gigantic negative impacts on his state that he declines to oppose.

All of this begs the question.  Is Larry Hogan with Donald Trump and anti-health care zealots in the Republican Party?  Or is he with the rest of us?

 

Hogan’s Campaign Against Public Schools

By Adam Pagnucco.

Governor Larry Hogan is the most dedicated opponent of Maryland public schools in recent memory.  And now, new rankings of states in a respected education publication show how effective he has been.

Education Week, which ranks public school systems by state, rated Maryland’s public schools as fifth in the nation as of 2017.  That’s a decent rank, except when you consider that the publication rated Maryland number one every year from 2009 through 2013.  Maryland scored particularly low on its achievement gap between low-income and high-income students, ranked as 42nd in the country.

The decline in the state’s ranking is no surprise since it’s perfectly consistent with Governor Hogan’s record on public schools.  Consider what he has done in his first two years in office.

  1. He cut public school funding in his first budget.

The Governor of Maryland has enormous budgetary powers under the state’s constitution.  When he submits an operating budget to the General Assembly, the state legislators generally cannot add spending to it – they can only set aside spending for particular purposes or cut it.  Over the years, the General Assembly has established funding formulas for certain spending items in state law, and that includes most state aid programs for K-12 education.  But the Governor identified one program that was not protected by state law – a program that sent extra money to school systems with higher costs of educating students.  The Governor cut half of that money, a total of $68 million, in his very first budget.  Here are the counties that were affected and their dollar losses:

Prince George’s: $20 million

Montgomery: $18 million

Baltimore City: $12 million

Anne Arundel: $5 million

Frederick: $3 million

Baltimore County: $3 million

Howard: $3 million

Others: $4 million

Note that almost three-quarters of the cuts applied to three jurisdictions: Prince George’s, Montgomery and the City.  What do they have in common?  You guessed it: they all voted against Hogan by large margins.

Hogan resisted calls from the General Assembly to restore the cuts, so they passed a law making the program mandatory.  Hogan waved the white flag of surrender, admitting that he did not have the votes to sustain a veto.  If he had gotten them, those cuts would have continued every single year.

  1. He withheld teacher pension aid for counties in his second budget.

Since FY2013, counties have been responsible for paying part of the cost of teacher pension funding, with the remainder covered by the state.  After passage of his second budget, Hogan withheld $19 million in state aid the General Assembly set aside to help counties pay for teacher pensions, a move that threatened their credit ratings.  Here are the counties that were affected and their dollar losses:

Montgomery: $6 million

Howard: $2 million

Baltimore County: $2 million

Anne Arundel: $2 million

Prince George’s: $1 million

Frederick: $1 million

Others: $5 million

Ultimately, Hogan agreed to release the money but only when the General Assembly agreed to provide an equal amount in corporate welfare to Northrop Grumman, one of Hogan’s top policy priorities.  What kind of Governor plays games with school funding in order to get more money for corporate welfare?

  1. He is jamming public school boards with public school skeptics.

As Governor, Hogan has the power to appoint members of the State Board of Education as well as numerous local school boards.  He has used that prerogative to stack these boards with skeptics of public schools.  The President and Vice-President of the State Board of Education, both Hogan appointees, are nationally-known promoters of charter schoolsOther State Board appointees are a religious school principal and “a consultant who works on charter school conversions.”  It is no coincidence that the State Board is now considering an expansion of vouchers for private schools.  Another Hogan appointee is Ann Miller of the Baltimore County school board, who has a history of criticizing LGBT people and immigrants.  Another Baltimore County school board appointee, retired private school teacher and non-voter June Eaton, was asked by the Baltimore Sun “if she had any public school issues that needed to be addressed.”  Eaton replied, “I really haven’t given it much thought. This is all new to me.”

  1. He is pushing hard for tax dollars to be sent to private schools.

At the same time that Hogan has been trying to cut funding for public schools, he is doing everything in his power to send tax dollars to private schools.  Last year, he got the General Assembly to agree to $5 million in funding for vouchers.  Now, he is pushing to expand the program to $10 million.  The Governor continues to support a corporate tax credit for businesses contributing to private schools and introduced a bill that would have allowed charter schools to compete for state public school construction funding.

Hogan’s behavior is straight out of the playbook of Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos: starve public schools and send the money to the private sector.  Hogan even put his own twist on it by using public school money as a bargaining chip to get corporate welfare for defense behemoth Northrop Grumman.  The Governor’s intentions are beyond doubt.  Only one question remains.

Can he be stopped?

Is Larry Hogan Capable of Telling the Truth?

By Adam Pagnucco.

What’s the old saying about lying and telling the truth?  There are lots of variations, but most of them go something like this:

It’s easier to tell the truth than it is to lie.  That’s because when you tell the truth, there’s only one version to remember.  But when you lie, you have to keep all the details straight and say it the same way every time.  Otherwise, you’ll get caught!

Governor Larry Hogan has probably never heard of this.

As we have noted before, the Governor is waging an all-out campaign to repeal the General Assembly’s transportation project scoring law.  The law requires the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to score every major state transportation project on a variety of criteria, but gives the administration ultimate authority to fund projects of its choice regardless of their scores.  The Governor despises the law because it creates potential for embarrassment – he would have to publicly defend any decisions to fund low-scoring projects.  So he has falsely claimed that the law requires him to kill projects and said falsely that it was passed without hearings.  The Governor even released a list of projects that the law would allegedly kill even though the plain language of the law contradicts him.

One of the projects the Governor says will be killed is the widening of I-81 in Washington County.  His kill list describes it as “I-81 Reconstruction from West Virginia line to Pennsylvania line.”

A week after saying that I-81 and dozens of other projects would be killed, the Governor showed up in Hagerstown to announce funding for – you guessed it – I-81 widening.  The Hagerstown Herald-Mail reported:

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan came to Hagerstown bearing gifts on Thursday, announcing more than $115 million in funding commitments for local and regional projects.

The largest chunk, $105 million, is for the first phase of widening of Interstate 81, which recently got underway to widen the heavily-traveled interstate to six lanes from the West Virginia line to Md. 63 near Williamsport.

The first phase of work is from U.S. 11 in West Virginia to Md. 63, including the Potomac River bridges in between…

Another $5 million has been budgeted for design work for the second phase of I-81 widening, Hogan said, allowing the project to progress north to the Interstate 70 interchange.

The Governor’s office issued a press statement reiterating that work on I-81 would proceed.  Neither the Herald-Mail article nor the press statement noted that the Governor had already said that I-81 would be killed by the transportation scoring law.  There were no caveats in the article or the press statement such as “I-81 will proceed so long as the scoring law is repealed.”  Let’s note that the project kill list and the press statement about I-81 were issued only EIGHT DAYS APART.

In which of two alternate realities does the Governor live?  The one in which a major transportation project is killed by a new law?  Or the one in which the project proceeds without obstruction?  It seems to vary by the day.

This is no longer about transportation policy, folks.  You can’t rant and rave at a press conference that a project is going to be killed and then show up a week later like Santa Claus to announce that it’s going to be built.  Reasonable, sane and trustworthy people don’t behave like that regardless of their political beliefs.  That raises a critical question.

Is Larry Hogan capable of telling the truth?

Governor Trump

By Adam Pagnucco.

One of the reasons why Donald Trump was elected President is that he made things up out of thin air and the press, for the most part, let him get away with it.  Now Governor Larry Hogan is doing the same thing.  And so far, it’s working.

We refer of course to the Governor’s all-out campaign to repeal this year’s transportation transparency law.  The law, passed over the Governor’s veto, would require the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to rank transportation projects according to a variety of numerical criteria to bring transparency into what has been an opaque funding process.  The Governor claims that it would require him to kill most state transportation projects.  But in fact, the plain language of the law lets the Governor have final say over which projects get funded.  It states, “Nothing in this Act may be construed to prohibit or prevent the funding of the capital transportation priorities in each jurisdiction.”

So just like Trump, the Governor is making things up and trotting them out to the press.  How did the press react?  Erin Cox of the Baltimore Sun got the facts right, quoting both the law’s language and an advisory letter from the Attorney General’s office to demonstrate that Hogan is wrong.  A reader had to review the article carefully to glean these things, however, as it also included lots of back-and-forth between politicians.  The Washington Post and the Capital Gazette also quoted the law’s language, though only in passing.

Other press outlets got suckered.  The Hagerstown Herald-Mail, Frederick News-Post, Ocean City Today, WMAR (Baltimore), WJLA (Washington), Bethesda Magazine, Afro-American, WMDT, WTOP and Montgomery Community Media (MCM) never mention what the law actually says, depicting the issue as a he-said-she-said dispute between politicians.  Ocean City Today, WJLA and WMDT never bothered to quote any Democrats, giving the Governor free rein.  WJLA, WMAR, MCM and the Afro-American stated falsely that certain transportation projects either “were,” “will be” or “have been” canceled.  Again, the law says no such thing and a simple fact-check could have uncovered that.

The real story here is that one side is accurately characterizing state law and the other side is making stuff up.  No one in the press wrote that story.

Even more incredibly, the Governor said in his press conference about the law that the General Assembly “rammed it through without hearings or any public input.”  You can see that in the video below at the -10:40 mark.

In fact, video of the hearings in both the Senate and the House are available on the General Assembly’s website.  Pete Rahn, the Governor’s Secretary of Transportation, attended both.  This is a pants-on-fire lie that no press outlet exposed.

rahn-testimony

Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn testifying at the Senate hearing that Governor Hogan says never happened.

For a person who is known as not being a fan of Donald Trump, the Governor is remarkably quick to embrace his tactics: make stuff up, ignore the truth and bully anyone who disagrees.  Most of the press is letting him get away with it.

Will the Democrats?

Larry Hogan’s Alternate Reality

By Adam Pagnucco.

Everyone knows that elected officials sometimes disagree on issues.  They may have differences of philosophy or values.  They may emphasize different sets of conflicting data.  They may prioritize one thing over another.  But how many of them actually make stuff up and use that as a basis for policy arguments?

One does.  His name is Larry Hogan.

The Governor’s target is a law passed by the General Assembly over his veto known as the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016.  The law was intended to open up the opaque process used by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to decide which transportation projects to fund in the state’s capital budget.  The law requires MDOT to use a scoring procedure to evaluate future proposed major projects using measurements of safety and security, system preservation, quality of service, environmental stewardship, community vitality, economic prosperity, equitable access, cost effectiveness and local jurisdiction priorities.  The score of each project included in MDOT’s capital budget would be released publicly.  But the law makes clear that the scores themselves would not determine a project’s fate.  MDOT would have the final say over which ones get funded.  The law says explicitly that “the Department may include in the Consolidated Transportation Program a major capital transportation project with a lower score over a major capital transportation project with a higher score if it provides in writing a rational basis for the decision.”  The law also says, “Nothing in this Act may be construed to prohibit or prevent the funding of the capital transportation priorities in each jurisdiction.”

Sounds harmless, yeah?  Not to Governor Hogan.  He is calling the law “the Road Kill Bill” and has released a huge list of transportation projects it would allegedly cancel.  The Governor said in a public statement that the law was a “disastrous bill which will absolutely be responsible for the elimination of nearly all of the most important transportation priorities in every single jurisdiction all across the state… It will wreak havoc on the entire state transportation system and usurp important authority away from local governments and away from the executive branch of state government, giving authority instead to lobbyists and special interest groups.”  He has launched a fierce social media campaign to repeal it.

And yet the plain language of the law itself would not kill any transportation projects.  Not a single one.

Think that’s bad enough?  It’s even worse.  One of the projects the Governor says the law would kill is the Watkins Mill/I-270 interchange in Gaithersburg.  This is a top priority for MoCo’s state legislators and was a significant reason for their support of a 2013 transportation funding increase.  And yet the Hogan administration indefinitely postponed it and later mulled cutting exit ramps to save money.  Only after the MoCo delegation introduced legislation to mandate funding the project did MDOT relent and reluctantly put it back on track.  And now the Governor is falsely blaming the transportation scoring law for killing a project that his own administration tried to kill!

Folks, what we have here is not a failure to communicate.  It is a failure to live in reality.  The Governor’s attacks on this law are contradicted by the plain language of the law itself.  It does not kill ANY projects.  In fact, it explicitly preserves MDOT’s ability to decide which projects get funded.  This dispute is not about killing projects at all.  What it’s really about is that the Governor can’t stand any law that subjects his decisions to public scrutiny.  And this concept is so alien to him that he is willing to make false statements in public about what the law actually does.  This is not a matter of right vs left or Democrats vs Republicans.  It’s a matter of making stuff up to justify what you want.

Now what other soon-to-be GOP officeholder does this remind you of?

Hogan’s Strategy and New Terrain, Part I

Governor Larry Hogan’s action since his election point to one major goal: avoiding the fate of Bob Ehrlich by winning reelection in 2018. His strategy on these points seems relatively clear. However, the 2016 election results may upend his strategy. Today, I look at the path he has pursued so far.

Poll-Tested Popular Gestures
Hogan has become the master of making popular moves that, in the end, are nice gestures but do little to reshape state government in a meaningful way. His new mandate that schools begin after Labor Day is a perfect example of this approach.

No Meaningful Cuts in Taxes or Spending
If you look at the state budget as a whole, the difference between what Maryland has done under Gov. Hogan and would have done if Anthony Brown had been elected is small and focused on popular but very small cuts.

The reduction in tolls is a perfect example. People love it and see it but it’s practically a rounding error in the state budget. Hogan has much derided the “rain tax” but it’s a federal mandate and sending it back to the counties doesn’t make it disappear, so the impact on Marylanders is less than appears.

Taking Credit for O’Malley’s Hard Decisions
Gov. Martin O’Malley had the misfortune to govern during the horrendous Bush recession. While the budget will always need further work, he and the General Assembly made the tough deep cuts and righted the ship on pensions.

Most interestingly, O’Malley took the unpopular decision to raise the gas tax. So far, despite Hogan’s vehement attacks on it during the campaign, it’s still with us, and Hogan seems very happy to go around the state taking credit for roads and other projects it funds.

His Cancer Fight
I am sure that Gov. Hogan and his family wish deeply that he had never been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I am grateful, as are Marylanders, that he is making a great recovery. Indeed, he has been a fine example of the fight against a major illness. The publicity surrounding his brave fight has naturally engendered a great deal of sympathy.

One Downside: Touchy Persona
While Hogan generally presents a determined and happy face to the world, he doesn’t deal well with criticism. He can get petty and surprisingly touchy in response to it, lashing out negatively in response to even mild disagreements.

Conclusion
In short, Larry Hogan has presented a pleasing persona happy to do  small things in the wake of the frenetic O’Malley years and enjoy the benefits of previous hard decisions. This approach has resulted in high approval ratings. But will Trump’s election upend Hogan?

Does Larry Hogan Really Care About Jobs?

By Adam Pagnucco.

Larry Hogan has worked hard to portray himself as a Jobs Governor.  In nearly every one of his public appearances, speeches and press statements, he talks about jobs, jobs, jobs.  Here’s a quote from his inaugural address that has set the tone for his administration.

“Maryland has an educated workforce, world-class universities and colleges, great community colleges, and public schools. We have our beautiful Chesapeake Bay, the Port of Baltimore, and a great location in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region. We must leverage these amazing assets to transform Maryland into a place where businesses can flourish and create more jobs and opportunities for our citizens. Starting today let me say loudly and clearly: Maryland is open for business.”  Governor Hogan, Inaugural Address, 1/21/15

The statement above deserves a big asterisk.  In practice, Hogan’s enthusiasm for jobs depends on where they are.  When jobs are located at a Northrop Grumman facility in Anne Arundel County, the Governor proposes tens of millions of dollars in state subsidies for them.  When employment growth lags in the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland, Hogan promises a new jobs initiative.  But when the Red Line was projected to add billions of dollars in economic activity and over 15,000 badly needed jobs to the City of Baltimore, Hogan cancelled it.  And last week, he sent another large public works project into limbo: Montgomery County’s Corridor Cities Transitway.  What do Montgomery County and the City of Baltimore have in common?  You guessed it – they voted for Hogan’s opponent in the last election.

The Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) is one of the state’s preeminent transportation projects, and one that has an awful lot of job growth tied to it.  The CCT, a 15-mile Bus Rapid Transit Line from the Shady Grove Metro Station to the southern part of Clarksburg, has been planned since the 1970s.  It would link some of Montgomery County’s fastest-growing places, including Gaithersburg, Germantown, Clarksburg, the Life Sciences Center and the federal government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, in an area that has few transit options.  A 2011 economic impact analysis by Parsons Brinckerhoff estimated that the project would create $2.2 billion of economic activity through 2050 and would create over 6,000 jobs during its construction phase.  Those jobs would go to craft employees like carpenters, laborers, operating engineers, cement masons, iron workers and electricians – blue-collar workers whom the Governor cultivates.

“The government needs to do everything it possibly can to help people provide for themselves and get a job.”  Larry Hogan, candidate for Governor, 10/9/14

But the CCT is far more than just a transportation project.  It is tied to the massive Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan passed by the Montgomery County Council in 2010.  The plan leverages the CCT to allow new development including 10.6 million additional square feet of commercial space, 5,700 more residential units and 31,300 new jobs.  This would be one of the biggest developments in the state, comparable to Baltimore’s Port Covington project.  Many of the Great Seneca plan’s jobs would be professional and high-paying, including scientists, doctors and engineers.  All of this is worth countless billions to the State of Maryland.  But because the area’s existing infrastructure can’t handle the traffic volume created by this level of development, the plan is contingent on the CCT’s construction.  In other words, no CCT – no jobs.  As Council Member George Leventhal has said, “By deferring this project, Governor Hogan is deferring our high-tech economy.”

“The primary focus of our administration is economic development, growing our private sector and creating more jobs.”  Governor Hogan, MACo conference, 8/22/16

Governor Hogan is uniquely qualified to understand the ties between growth, development and jobs.  He is, after all, a real estate developer who has made a fortune building projects not so different from those that would be located near the CCT.  He requires no education on the economic merits of this issue.  But the politics are a totally different matter.  The Governor’s political play is obvious: he gets to kill (or at least indefinitely delay) a transit project in a blue county so that he can spread highway money around to the red counties who will presumably vote for him.  And because he (barely!) allowed a stripped-down version of the Purple Line to proceed, he can ax the CCT and still raise money from his friends in the real estate industry.

“The primary focus of my administration is to get Maryland open for business once again and create jobs for our citizens.”  Governor Hogan, 5/12/15

In economic terms, the CCT and its associated development would be a huge win for everyone around the state.  That’s because the state government is the primary recipient of income tax revenues from new residents, and it’s the only recipient of sales taxes and corporate income taxes from new businesses.  Because of how Maryland’s wealth formulas work, the huge majority of those state revenues would not stay in MoCo – they would go to the poorer counties of the state, many of whom are in rural areas that vote in huge numbers for Hogan.  In his effort to score points with his supporters, the Governor is actually damaging their economic interests.

So what does the Governor really care about?  Is it jobs?

Or politics?

Maryland Republican Trump Tape Reax Summary: Standing by Trump

head_in_sandGovernor Larry Hogan’s Reaction to Trump Tape

This past weekend, 7S spent much time chronicling the reactions of Maryland Republicans to Tapegate. I summarize here in case you sensibly had better things to do this weekend. They run the gamut to everything except a willingness to repudiate Trump:

Full Ostrich: Gov. Larry Hogan continued his perfect record of never criticizing his party’s nominee and disclaiming interest in presidential politics after racing around the country to support Trump lickspittle Chris Christie.

The Szeliga: Kathy Szeliga was “appalled” but Trump still gets her vote. A common approach.

Szeliga Plus: Amie Hoeber upped the weird by utilizing her personal experience of being subjected to sexism to justify her continued support for the sexist candidate. And Hillary bad.

No Apology Necessary: A model for all wingnuts, Sen. Gail Bates excused Trump as she linked to conspiracy theory rants. She holds Allan Kittleman’s former seat in the General Assembly, which shows just how deep the rot has got in the GOP.

Full Trump: Rep. Andy Harris previewed Trump’s tawdry pre-debate presser and invoked Benghazi like the Expelliarmus charm in Harry Potter.

Remember that all of these people opposed marriage equality but there is seemingly no behavior by Trump that cannot be ignored or excused. This is now the Maryland Republican Party.

The Silence of Maryland Republicans

It’s getting on 24 hours since the unveiling of the Trump tape, which has apparently allowed some Republicans to connect the dots and abandon their horrible nominee. But the overwhelming reaction among Maryland Republicans is to go full ostrich and pretend that this event and Trump are going away.

Kathy Szeliga

Based on a quick examination of her web page, twitter feed, and Facebook page, Kathy Szeliga has neither condemned the latest evidence of Trump’s horrible behavior nor withdrawn her endorsement of the Republican nominee.

As the Baltimore Sun has pointed out, this is part of a long pattern for Szeliga:

With a record like that, it’s no surprise Ms. Szeliga supports Mr. Trump. When he attacked a Gold Star family, she was silent. When he suggested that “Second Amendment people” could take action against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, again, deafening silence. When Mr. Trump claimed that President Barack Obama is the founder of ISIS, she didn’t condemn his words.

So there is nothing Trump can do that would cause Gov. Larry Hogan’s chosen Senate candidate to dump Trump.  Nothing from Larry Hogan about Szeliga’s judgment either even though Szeliga advertises Hogan’s support of her candidacy at every turn. Szeliga’s inevitable hard defeat will be a major blow for Hogan, as evidence that his personal support counts little.

Andy Harris

Nothing on the web page, twitter or Facebook of the sole elected Maryland Republican at the federal level, Rep. Andy Harris, either. Like Szeliga, Harris has endorsed Trump:

I’m going to work for him. I’m going to help him try to win the electoral votes in the state of Maryland because in the presidential election, it’s always a selection between two individuals. No one is going to be perfect, any individual. But Mr. Trump will be a far better choice for this country than Mrs. (Hillary) Clinton.

Larry Hogan

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has been basking in the plaudits and polls for not supporting Trump. However, Hogan has not criticized Trump at all. He just said that he won’t vote for the guy and made this incredible statement:

“I’ve always been a blunt, straightforward guy, and whether you agree with me or not, you always know where I stand,” he said. “I’m not trying to convince anybody how to vote, anyway.”

But that’s simply untrue. Hogan had time to trot around the country to say nice things about Chris Christie, a bully who has now cozied up to Trump, and is a vociferous backer of Trump supporter Kathy Szeliga. In contrast, this self-proclaimed “blunt, straightforward guy” has nothing to say about any of his party’s standard bearer’s bad behavior. Not exactly #HoganStrong.