By Susan Olsen, Our Maryland Our Voices Contributor
Maryland State Democratic Party leaders are being told by canvassers that many Democrats plan to vote the total Democratic ticket with one exception – the governor’s race. What is the reason for this? Many voters are saying that Hogan is a “not so bad” governor. To echo Ben Jealous, I must ask, “When did ‘not so bad’ become a qualifier for any candidate?”
Personally, I think these Democrats are misinformed. Hogan does a good job of manipulating the media. I noticed that during his one televised debate with Ben Jealous, every time a question brought attention to something Hogan had done wrong, he said that their information was incorrect, and he did not answer the question.
Hogan is also doing things right before the election to make voters think he has supported them the whole four years of his administration. Nothing could be further from the truth. For instance, Hogan removed 1.4 billion dollars from the Education Trust Fund. In addition, in 2017 alone, he cut 20 million dollars for after school, college readiness, and teacher retention programs. (Note that these programs are most needed in public schools serving high-poverty areas.) He also robbed the casino money fund which had been appropriated for public schools. It is no wonder that our public-school rating has gone from number one in the nation to number six in the last three and a half years!
Recently, Hogan has put some of the money back, saying that our public schools are now the “most well-funded in the nation.” Really? I would like to know how that was configured. Much of the money that was removed went to fund religious private schools and charter schools that do not serve the neediest of students. Remember, it costs much more money to educate special education students and those kids who come to school without the background knowledge to be successful even in kindergarten. These are the students who are left behind in Hogan’s education spending whims.
Although there are exceptions, both private and charter schools tend to serve families who have more resources. These are families which can pay private school tuition or have parents who can drive their kids to charter schools which often do not have bus service. These schools usually do not serve special education students. They may deal with kids with minor learning disabilities; however, they do not routinely deal with severely disabled kids who have significant brain damage or stark physical abnormalities which public schools are required to serve.
In addition, Hogan has started a war with public school educators, calling them “thugs.” He will not cooperate with teachers’ unions and refuses to educate himself on education issues. He appears to simply follow the lead of the despised and incompetent Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos although he denies it. In fact, Hogan vetoed a bill which would have allowed parents and teachers to serve on Maryland school boards, saying they are “special interests.” That totally blows my mind! Our biggest problem with public education, as I see it, is that politicians and business owners with absolutely no training in education issues are making decisions that educators should be making.
Of even greater concern is that Hogan has transferred money intended for public education to business interests. Sure, this might make economic sense to some; however, those underserved kids are not likely to have later educational experiences to make up for what they did not receive as children.
Other issues on which Hogan has failed Democrats include healthcare, the environment, gun safety, jobs and economic growth, and social justice.
On healthcare, Hogan stayed silent about the ACA repeal, saying it was “nothing he needed to be concerned about.” He removed funds from the budget earmarked for behavioral health. These funds are used to treat opioid addiction. In addition, he attempted to appoint Day Gardner to the Board of Physicians. Gardner is an anti-choice advocate against doctors who perform abortions. Gardner withdrew her nomination due to protests from women’s groups.
Everyone seems to think Hogan is great on environmental issues because he went along on the fracking ban. However, the late Kevin Kamenetz mentioned in a presentation given to the Talbot County Democratic Forum that Hogan was all in favor of fracking until he realized how unpopular a veto would be. After all, he wants a second term.
The governor’s biggest funder is the Koch brothers. He made their influence clear when he vetoed the Clean Energy Jobs Bill last spring. He also approved the Eastern Panhandle Pipeline that will go under the Potomac River which has the potential to poison our drinking water. Hogan also refused to sign the State Climate Alliance until the legislature forced him.
Hogan opposes measures to curb gun violence although most gun owners feel that we should have some safety laws in place. He enjoys an A- rating from the NRA and has displayed this bias by opposing the ban on bumpstocks and assault weapons. In addition, he supports legislation which would allow individuals to carry concealed weapons.
Governor Hogan’s pro-business model causes people to think Maryland is doing well economically. I am not so sure about that. Our state’s unemployment rate has risen over the last several years. In fact, Maryland is the only state in the nation with a negative economic forecast. Maryland’s job growth now lags behind Virginia, a state with typically low growth rate. Hogan is also the first Maryland governor in a decade to lose a Fortune 500 company. In addition, Hogan betrayed workers by vetoing the paid sick leave bill passed by the assembly earlier this year which would have allowed them five paid sick days per year.
Hogan is weak on social justice, something fiercely advocated by Democrats. He consistently pushes bills to increase incarceration and administer harsher sentences. The governor also refused to allow Attorney General Brian Frosh to sue President Trump about the Muslim Ban. He has refused to protect the LGBTQ community by refusing to sign bills protecting these individuals.
In summary, if you are talking to Democrats (or anyone else for that matter) who are going to vote for Hogan because he is “not so bad,” tell them this governor does not reflect Democratic values. He is bad! He appears to be concerned only with constituents who are business owners. It is important for Maryland that we have a governor who concerns himself with all constituents.
Democrats have a candidate who will do that for us. He is a Rhodes Scholar, a civil rights leader, a successful businessman and more. That candidate is Ben Jealous.
The views expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of Our Maryland or Our Maryland Education Fund.