By Kevin Lair
Senior Elm Writer
By personal invitation I had the honor of attending the inauguration ceremony of Maryland’s 62nd Governor, Larry Hogan Jr., and 9th Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford on Wednesday, Jan. 21. The experience was one I will never forget, and not because of the bitter cold and wet snow; but because of the immense feeling of joy, optimism, and the turning of a new page in Maryland’s history.
Resonating throughout the restless crowd was a sense of new direction—a new direction for Maryland, for intergovernmental relations, for the economy, and for the people of this great state. With an underlying theme of bipartisanship, Gov. Hogan made it clear that he intends to bring together all sides to find common-sense, bipartisan solutions.
In setting a new course for Maryland, Hogan said, “I am prepared to create an environment of trust and cooperation, where the best ideas rise to the top based upon their merit, regardless of which side of the political debate they come from. It will take many—all of us—working together, rolling up our sleeves, acting with mutual respect, and doing our jobs for the people of Maryland. It will require listening, educating, and bold actions. And it will take the courage to do things differently.”
Hogan was introduced by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a testament to his support for the Maryland gubernatorial candidate who many believed would be trounced at the polls. In his intro, Christie proclaimed, “[A]s long as you stick to your principles, I do believe that compromise and consensus are not dirty words; because to accomplish what you need to accomplish here in Maryland, you’re going to need someone who can bring people together, someone who isn’t afraid to be known as bipartisan, and that is exactly the person you have in Governor Larry Hogan.”
The following day I attended Hogan’s public announcement of his “structurally balanced budget” for Fiscal Year 2016, which the governor hails as including record funding for K-12 education aid, school construction, and higher education spending without raising taxes. The plan cuts spending by more than half, and it turns an inherited $1.25 billion budget shortfall into a $47 million surplus. The Hogan budget now passes to the Maryland General Assembly.
It is my hope that Republicans and Democrats alike will work with the new governor and seek bipartisan solutions to the issues facing Maryland. The only way for the state to move forward is if both parties work together, put aside their differences, and act in the best interests of their constituents.