CAMBRIDGE, Md. — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will try to revive a plan to create manufacturing jobs in high-unemployment areas, his office said Friday, despite the measure failing during the 2016 legislative session
Hogan senior adviser Keiffer Mitchell, who spoke at a forum of government leaders here, said the Republican governor’s office has “worked out some of the kinks” that caused lawmakers to balk at the original proposal, which would have provided a 10-year tax exemption for new manufacturers and their employees in areas such as Baltimore, Western Maryland and the lower Eastern Shore.
Existing manufacturers in the state raised concerns that the legislation would cause their employees to flee to competitors to take advantage of the tax break.
Mitchell did not explain to the local officials at the forum, part of the Maryland Association of Counties’ winter conference, how Hogan’s revised plan would address that issue.
He said the governor’s other top priorities in the legislative session that begins Jan. 11 will include passing a bill to require businesses to provide paid sick leave to workers, an idea that failed in the legislature this year despite broad support among Democrats.
Hogan’s proposal, outlined this week, is different in key ways from that bill. It would require companies with at least 50 employees to provide paid sick leave for employees who work at least 30 hours a week, and offer a tax credit to smaller companies that do the same. The Democratic bill, which progressives plan to push again in 2017, applied to business with 15 or more workers and a greater share of part-time employees.
Several top lawmakers said much of the legislature’s work next year will focus on dealing with the impacts on the state of the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has emphasized repealing the Affordable Care Act, cracking down on undocumented immigrants and cutting the federal workforce and federal spending, both of which are concentrated in the Washington suburbs.
“I expect a lot of what we do will be responding to what the federal government does,” state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said after the forum. “When Trump says, ‘I’m going to drain the swamp,’ it affects the economy of our state.”
Miller also said he does not expect the Senate to try to block Hogan’s recent executive order requiring public schools to extend summer break through Labor Day. Many education officials and Democrats have opposed the requirement, saying it stymies local authority and could hurt students who struggle academically, particularly poorer children who lack access to summer programs.
Miller noted that the idea has had some support in the legislature for years, although bills proposing the mandate had failed. He predicted that lawmakers would have approved the plan if Hogan had presented it as legislation instead of acting unilaterally.
“If the governor had wanted it and asked people to vote for it, it would have passed,” Miller said.
In his remarks, Mitchell said Hogan will push to repeal a transportation-planning law that Democrats passed this year despite a veto from the governor. The measure requires state transportation officials to rate road and transit proposals to help determine which deserve priority for state funds. The administration would have to provide an explanation for choosing lower-ranked projects over higher-ranked ones.
Critics, including many local officials, argue that the rating system favors transit proposals and projects in urban areas over those in more rural parts of the state. But supporters contend that it will improve transparency in the decision-making process.
Miller said Democrats in his chamber will not roll back the law.
“We don’t want to repeal it,” he said. “That’s not going to happen.”
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) also spoke at the forum, saying the state needs to collaborate more with local governments to address the explosion of heroin- and opioid-related overdose deaths that have occurred throughout the state — and across the nation — in recent years.
“You need to put money into some kind of long-term rehabilitation if you’re going to get people off drugs,” he said.
Busch said Hogan faces tough decisions about budget cuts next year, with 2016 revenue coming in about 2 percent lower than expected for both the previous and current fiscal years. He said cuts would probably have to come from spending on higher education, Medicaid and corrections.
Hogan will renew his calls to reduce mandated spending growth, Mitchell said. During the last legislative session, the governor proposed halting such increases during years when revenue is lower than projected, with exemptions for K-12 education, debt payments, the state pension system and reserves. The legislature never voted on that plan.