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From the Desk of State Delegate Kelly Schulz

Expectations and Transitions

(12/14) It is a new day in Maryland! As you know, Maryland voters elected a Republican Governor on November 4th and the transition from the previous administration has begun. For the first time in years, there is a feeling of optimism throughout the state.

In addition to a newly elected Governor, there were 7 additional Republicans elected to the House of Delegates and one additional State Senator. Logistically, this allows for one additional member to be added to 4 committees and 2 additional members assigned to 2 of the House committees.

Why is this important to you? Honestly, it has nothing to do with one individual Party. It does have everything to do with Maryland moving slightly away from a 1 Party system of control. Having a slightly higher number of Republicans creates an opportunity for a more balanced approach to governing, which I believe the voters are demanding.

The voters were very clear about their vision for Maryland’s future. They saw the state’s economic and business forecasts as being subpar to the rest of our neighboring states. They expect more from Maryland considering the fact that we have some very impressive qualities – a highly educated work force being at the top of that list.

I have, over the past three weeks, been actively discussing policy issues with members of the Hogan/Rutherford Transition Team. I can honestly say that they ‘get it’ when it comes to actively and strategically working with all stakeholders to propose substantive changes. However, they also understand that it will take some time to correct the mistakes that have occurred over the past 8 years of over spending and increased taxes. My advice to anyone beginning to analyze this process is ‘proceed with caution’.

The first reaction of most people that applauded Hogan’s victory was that tax increases would be repealed, gun laws would revert back to pre-2012, and our overly zealous environmental programs would be put on hold. While many of these items are priorities for the new conservatives in town, it is extremely important to remember that whatever your wish list, it will take some time to garner the support to see them through. Remember, the conservatives are still in the minority in the legislature. We need help from our colleagues to make this happen.

The unfortunate truth is that Hogan has inherited a $400 million deficit (and that may grow!). The anticipated tax revenues that the previous administration projected are not coming to fruition. Thus, the new budget needs to reflect an immediate reduction in spending just to remain solvent. Hogan has reportedly said that this won’t affect his plan to immediately reduce some taxes, but we will have to wait to see the proposed budget in January.

There will also be some conversations in the areas of the environment and agriculture that are well overdue. Those discussions have already begun to occur with the goal of finding a way to satisfy the need to remain good environmental stewards without continuing to hinder the efforts of our farming community. The rural areas of the state, like Frederick County, have experienced the brunt of environmental regulations that have been questionable as to their overall efficacy. Our newly elected Governor has promised to review these regulations to make sure that our small farms are not driven out of business by the new standards.

It will be a very different experience in Annapolis over the next four years, but a balance of powers at any level of government is a positive thing. I remember the promise 8 years ago that we would become One Maryland. That is a very nice thought, but it didn’t happen. Our state became divided very quickly and many parts of the state felt ignored when it came to their unique needs. It is my goal to help to turn that around. I know that it is Governor-elect Hogan’s goal, as well. I believe that he knows that he has a limited amount of time to make some very important changes, but keeping expectations realistic will be a key part of our success. Maryland did not get to this spot overnight, and we won’t see the change overnight. BUT, we will see it….I have absolutely no doubt that we will!

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