Welcome to Honest Governing, Annapolis!
I was recently taken aback by a comment made by Speaker Michael Busch after Governor Hogan’s first State of the State address to the Maryland Legislature last week.
Referring to the Governor’s speech, Speaker Busch was quoted in the Baltimore Sun as saying, “The governor is still campaigning rather than turning his attention to governing.”
I have an issue with Speaker Busch’s statement for a number of reasons, not the least of which is my concern that those legislators and leaders, who would still very much prefer the status quo in Annapolis, have forgotten the very meaning and purpose of the State of the State address.
The State of the State address is more than a formal opportunity for Mr. Hogan to speak before a joint session of the Legislature. It is a time for the Governor to come before lawmakers and give a report on how the State is doing, and where he thinks it needs to be in order to have a more prosperous future.
Now, I am not at all under the illusion that a governor’s views and priorities are never in disagreement with a legislature, especially when a governor represents a different party than the one that controls both chambers of a legislature.
Debate is often inevitable and even encouraged in order to come to an agreement (One does not need to be a politician to agree with this concept…my wife and I are good at debating with each other!)
However, as I sat in the balcony of the House chamber during the State of the State and looked at the faces of the democratic legislators, it was not hard at all to detect a deep negative vibe coming from them . I was particularly focused on the Prince George’s County delegation, which represents my home County. During nearly the entire speech, most of them had a bitter, disappointing look on their faces, as if they were stuck in after school detention and could not hang out with their friends (for the record, I am very familiar with the after school detention experience, so I know that face well. But that story will be told another time.).
Honestly, as a citizen of Prince George’s County, I was embarrassed by their reactions. Between Delegate Ben Barnes’ under the breath comment of something similar to, “That’s not true”, after one of Governor Hogan’s remarks, and Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith’s stone cold frown (such a stern look that it would force any kid to eat his or her veggies…something I should try with my children), it was easy for me to conclude that there was almost a palpable feeling of “sore loser syndrome” among the democratic lawmakers that Anthony Brown should have been giving the State of the State that day instead of Larry Hogan.
If the People of Maryland really wanted a democratic governor, they would have voted for one.
Frankly, my 5 year old daughter would have shown more respect to Governor Hogan that day than did many of the democratic legislators. And to think that the members of the State Legislature get paid!
Not only does Speaker Busch’s comment make me wonder if the top leadership of the Legislature understands the meaning and purpose of the State of the State addresses, but it also begs the question of if the Speaker has been paying attention to the dire situation that our State has been in for the last eight years. If Governor Hogan campaigned by pointing out specific problems with Maryland and promised to fix them if elected Governor, wouldn’t the Speaker—and everyone else for that matter–expect Mr. Hogan to go before the State Legislature in his first State of the State address and stress that Maryland’s problems need to be solved?
To suggest that Mr. Hogan should have entered the House chamber last Wednesday with congratulatory prizes for many of the very same legislators who drove our State’s economy and reputation into the ground—after he spent so long successfully convincing Marylanders that we needed a change of course after eight years of failed policies—is both unrealistic and counterproductive.
When it comes to fixing our State, the Legislature received from the State of the State address what it needed most: A characteristic dose of honesty from Larry Hogan.
Towards the conclusion of his speech, Governor Hogan submitted a very straight forward offering to the democratically controlled Legislature. He said, “I am prepared to create an environment of trust and cooperation, one in which the best ideas rise to the top based upon their merit, regardless of which side of the political debate they come from.”
I join with many Marylanders in hoping that the Legislature sincerely takes Governor Hogan up on his offer to seek the best ideas for our State, regardless of whether those ideas come from someone with an “R” or a “D” after his or her name.
Whether the status quo politicians like it or not, the People of Maryland sent Larry Hogan to Annapolis because of his clear message and his plan to fix our State. It is time for those politicians to leave the kiddie table and join Governor Hogan in working to improve Maryland.