Maryland Gov.-elect Larry Hogan (R) said Monday that he was surprised by the size of the state’s projected budget shortfalls and that the outlook could affect how quickly he is able to roll back tax increases enacted under Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).
Legislative analysts said last week that Maryland faces a shortfall of nearly $600 million in its next operating budget and larger gaps in years to come.
“Quite frankly, even I am surprised at the magnitude of the problem, and the task ahead of us is vast,” Hogan said Monday when asked about the issue during a news conference he called to announce more members of his transition team. “The problem seems to be even greater than we expected it to be.”
As a candidate, Hogan repeatedly pledged to roll back as many of the O’Malley-era tax increases as possible, but he has said little about which taxes he would seek to cut first, by how much or how quickly.
Hogan is scheduled to submit his first budget proposal to the legislature shortly after he is sworn in on Jan. 21. Democratic leaders in the legislature have cautioned against reducing revenue in the state’s $16 billion general fund budget given the projected shortfalls.
Asked Monday if the budget outlook could affect his tax-cutting plans, Hogan said: “We’re going to try to get spending under control and try to roll back taxes and quickly as we can, but obviously, it’s a factor. ... We have to figure out how big of a problem we have with this deficit and how we’re going to address it.”
In an interview with WBFF-TV, the Fox affiliate in Baltimore, Hogan said he still hopes to pursue some tax relief in his first legislature session, including a possible rollback of the stormwater remediation fee, often derided as the “rain tax,” which is collected by counties.
“I’m pretty confident we will,” Hogan said in the interview, which aired Monday night. “I think [lawmakers] got a message that was sent on Election Day. They realized that’s one of the reasons why they lost so many members of the legislature. That’s why they have me as governor.”
Republicans picked up two seats in the Senate and a net of seven in the House of Delegates.