ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Last night, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan[R] gave his State of the State address, praising the spirit of Marylanders during the pandemic and advocating for his policy goals this upcoming year.

The beginning of the governor’s address was focused on the challenges that faced the state in the past year, most notably being the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn that came with it.

Governor Hogan praised the citizens of Maryland for their perseverance over the past year saying “it is because of the courage, the sacrifices, and the strength of the people of Maryland that the state of our state is more resilient than it has ever been before.”

Hogan specifically praised the actions of Maryland’s essential workers during the pandemic.

One of the first policy topics he addressed in his speech was the slower than anticipated vaccine rollout in Maryland.

“We will continue doing everything in our power at the state level to utilize every dose we are given as thousands of heroes all across the state work around the clock to get more shots into the arms of our most vulnerable citizens,” Hogan said.  “I want to assure you that we will not rest until vaccines are available to every single Marylander who wants one.”

Hogan addressed the slow vaccine rollout by shifting the focus the federal government’s plan rather than the state effort. Hogan said he has been and will continue to urge the federal government and specifically the Biden administration to expedite the vaccination rollout.

With the pandemic being the largest issue facing Maryland at this time, it is no surprise the governor stated that his top legislative priority is the passing of the Relief Act of 2021, the $1 billion pandemic relief and stimulus plan that he has been championing for much of this year. The governor called upon the Maryland Legislature to be swift in acting on this piece of legislation by saying “there is absolutely nothing more important for the legislature to do, and Marylanders simply cannot afford to wait.”

Governor Hogan also expressed the need for more long-term legislation to address the issues brought about by the pandemic. Hogan made it clear the further tax-relief is one of his central avenues for stimulating the economy. The governor celebrated the fact the 2022 budget was not only balanced but did not call for any tax increases. He further solidified this stance by reiterating the lack of tax increase during his term. Hogan zeroed in especially on tax relief for retired Marylanders and promised to grant $1 billion in tax relief, explaining that this “will help keep tens of thousands of Marylanders from fleeing [the] state.”

Hogan also seemed to double down on his plan to reopen Maryland schools starting in March. Hogan said rather bluntly that “it is time to get our students back into the classrooms where they belong.” He justified this action by citing that “Dr. Fauci, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the experts at the CDC, and the American Academy Pediatrics all agree that schools should be reopened and that they can be reopened safely.” Hogan also added on plans to grant extra funding to k-12 education and praised teachers in Maryland for their commitment during the pandemic.

Hogan began to close his speech by discussing the road ahead for Maryland as we face the pandemic and expressed the desire to get back to a sense of normalcy. However, the governor expressed the need for patience with this optimism by saying “This crisis will not end overnight, but together we will bring it to an end. We will get our kids back to school, get people back to work, and get life back to normal once again.”

The governor also set a goal for Maryland in the next year by saying ”let’s continue to set a shining example for the rest of America by showing that we are Maryland Strong, that we refuse to succumb to the divisiveness and dysfunction that is infecting our national politics. Because the bonds that bind us together as Marylanders are greater than all that divides us.”

Governor Hogan’s 2021 State address he laid out his policy priorities for the next which primarily surround issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s plan to reopen schools and the Relief Act of 2021 took center stage in the manner, and he addressed concerns about the current vaccine rollout. However, with the General Assembly’s 2021 session well underway and the pandemic showing little signs of stopping, we will have to wait and see the shape his policies will take in the coming months.

Contact Tyler at tylerchesser@thebaynet.com