The Maryland Green Party Responds to the 2015 State of the State Address

In response to his first State of the State address this week, the Maryland Green Party urges Governor Larry Hogan to consider Green values as he plots his administration's "new direction" for Maryland.

Governor Hogan spent a significant amount of his address outlining plans for resolving what he described as "economic problems". Governor Hogan focused on "high taxes, over-regulation, and an anti-business attitude" as the basis for what the Governor views as sub-par growth and competitiveness.

The Green Party urges Governor Hogan and all members of the General Assembly to adapt alternative means for measuring the state's success, and to recognize that stagnant economic growth - regardless of planning or regulatory schemes - will be inevitable as we continue to use more resources than are naturally available to us.

In 2013, Governor Martin O'Malley introduced a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) as an alternate means for measuring success beyond traditional productivity measures. While the state's Department of Natural Resources advertises the GPI measure as an "index for sustainable prosperity," the O'Malley administration did little to promote the measure. The Green Party urges the Hogan administration to promote the GPI as the main tool for determining the success of Maryland's business, regulatory and tax agenda.

Governor Hogan highlighted several of his administration's tax priorities, including the elimination of income tax on retirement and pension income and cuts to taxes on personal property for small business owners.

The Green Party believes that the Governor's responsibility as chief executive is the prosperity of all Marylanders, not just those living on a public service pension or those who own a business. In order to ensure economic justice for all Marylanders, the Green Party calls for an immediate increase in the state minimum wage (currently set to phase in by mid-2018), an additional increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and the establishment of a statewide living wage.

The Green Party also calls for a national basic income guarantee ("Social Security for All") and universal, single-payer health care ("Medicare for All"). Maryland can be a leader among states by implementing both programs on the state level.

Governor Hogan pledged to improve public transportation, and promised to "give counties and municipalities the most money they have received for road improvements since Fiscal Year 2009". The Green Party urges the Hogan administration to resolve decades of uncertainty over the Baltimore Red Line and DC-area Purple Line projects, and make a commitment to funding safe and reliable transportation for all Marylanders, even those without access to private transit.

Governor Hogan said that it is "time for a new approach" on protecting the Chesapeake Bay. The Green Party is concerned that the Hogan administration's "new approach" relies on a continually-disproved "hands-off" approach to waste and resource exploitation. The Green Party urges a national fee-and-dividend system for lowering climate emissions, under which producers of climate-changing gases would be charged per unit of emissions. Maryland can once again be a leader among states by moving toward adopting this model, and expanding it to nitrogen, phosphorous and other water-based pollutants.

Governor Hogan highlighted the value of the Chesapeake Bay and the issue of stormwater management early in his address, and promised to repeal the Stormwater Remediation Fee, which he said taxes Marylanders "for the rain that falls on their homes." The Green Party urges Governor Hogan show his commitment to environmental protection by abandoning the disingenuous use of the phrase "rain tax" and treating the issue of how the design of our homes, neighborhoods, streets, farms and stormwater systems effects our natural environment with the respect the topic deserves.

Governor Hogan noted the seriousness of Maryland's heroin abuse issue, and called for stakeholders to develop a "plan to tackle the epidemic." The Green Party calls for an end to the failed "War on Drugs", the legalization of drugs and treating drug abuse as a public health - not criminal - issue. The party calls on Governor Hogan to include legalization advocates in the stakeholders he invites to develop a heroin epidemic response.

Governor Hogan concluded his first State of the State address with a call for campaign finance and election reform. The Green Party agrees with the Governor's statement of support for an "honest and open political process that challenges convention." The party supports Governor Hogan's call for public financing of Gubernatorial campaigns and his call for independent redistricting to address rampant gerrymandering.

The Green Party asks Governor Hogan to amend his proposal for a "bipartisan" redistricting commission to a "nonpartisan" commission, in which minor party and politically unaffiliated individuals would feel welcome to participate in suggesting reforms to Maryland's electoral system.