UPDATED: November 17, 2014 6:45 p.m.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Gov.-elect Larry Hogan said Monday that he remains committed to pursuing tax relief in his first year in office — despite a projected budget shortfall — and he would consider calling a special session to do additional work on the state’s finances, if needed next year.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Hogan said he is bracing for an even greater fiscal challenge than the $593 million shortfall state budget analysts announced last week for the next fiscal year. Hogan takes office Jan. 21, and he will be required to submit a budget for the next fiscal year two days later to the Legislature.
“It took us a long time to get into the mess we’re in,” Hogan said. “It can’t be fixed in two days.”
Hogan said he would be open to bringing the Maryland General Assembly back later for more budget work, if it’s necessary, after the regular 90-day session ends in April.
“If it can’t be addressed in 90 days, we would be open to considering the idea of calling a special session,” Hogan said.
Maryland’s governor has the authority to call the Legislature back for a special session.
Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley ended up calling a special session late in his first year in office in 2007. That lasted three weeks and resulted in increases to the sales tax, the corporate income tax, cigarette tax and vehicle-titling tax. Hogan promised during the campaign to cut the corporate income tax from 8.25 percent to 6 percent — where it was before the 2007 special session.
“Instead of calling back a special session to see how many taxes we could raise, it would be what kinds of decisions are we going to make to cut the budget,” said Hogan, who campaigned on cutting taxes and improving the state’s business climate.
Hogan said it’s too soon to say what kind of tax relief he will be proposing in his first year. He said members of his transition team are examining cuts that could be made to find savings in the budget.
Hogan said he is optimistic members of the Maryland General Assembly will be open to tax-relief proposals. As an example, he noted that lawmakers approved raising the exemption on the estate tax this year. Hogan described it as a “tiny step, but it was a step in the right direction.” He said he believes more Democrats will be open to tax-relief proposals.
“I’m sure there’s going to be a give and take,” Hogan said. “I really meant it when I said we’re going to sit down and work across the aisle, but I believe we’re going to convince some members of the other side of the aisle that we need to take some steps toward getting spending under control and reducing taxes.”
Hogan also announced six new members of his transition team Monday. They include former state Senate Minority Leader Marty Madden, columnist and commentator Blair Lee, state Sen. Joe Getty, economist Anirban Basu, former Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick, and retired U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr.
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