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Politics

On The Issues – GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Debate

Phil Tran
/
Phil Tran Public Relations, LLC

Last week, Republican gubernatorial candidates Charles Lollar, Ron George, and David Craig participated in a forum at Johns Hopkins University. Larry Hogan, another GOP candidate, did not attend. They spoke on a range of policy issues. Here are some highlights:

Economic Growth

David Craig:

We need to eliminate the sales tax on any product made in the state of Maryland and sold in the state of Maryland. That will improve our “buy local” programs. I can tell you, in Harford County, we were named number one in the nation in “buy local.”

Ron George:

I have a “buy Maryland” plan, which I put out in July or June. You get 20 percent of the sales tax back on any item you buy in the state, if you’re a Maryland resident, of $100 or more.

Charles Lollar:

We have to tie growth of government directly with cost of living and CPI [Consumer Price Index]. This is something we can do and Ken [Timmerman] and I will do that in our first 60 days as governor and lieutenant governor of this wonderful state.

Income Tax

Craig:

The key is, get rid of the income tax. Ninety-four percent of businesses pay taxes through income tax. Guess what? They make [the] decision to leave and go somewhere else.

George:

My plan was to do a 10 percent cut right away, retroactive, so that one year from today, when your taxes are due on April 15th, almost a year from today, you will get a refund right away of 10 percent.

Lollar:

We have to pass a taxpayers’ bill of rights…We will eliminate the personal income tax over a five-year period. We can do that. All this ties into simply limiting the growth of our government. Don’t let people tell you that we have to cancel essential services to get this done.

Manufacturing

Craig:

I lowered taxes [in Harford County] and we ended up with over 100 manufacturing companies there, we have over 130 defense contractors there, we’ve seen over 8,000 new jobs come there, since the economy tanked.

George:

We have the worst tax in the country on new manufacturing jobs. The worst, we are ranked 50th out of 50. We have the worst tax on equipment for manufacturing. I also will bring import/export businesses to Maryland as we expand the harbor…We want to bring manufacturing to smaller cities that are losing jobs, Hagerstown, Cumberland, Salisbury.

Lollar:

We need to reopen up enterprise zones here in Baltimore City that allow for manufacturing jobs to come in and hire Baltimore City-ians and receive some type of tax breaks.

Energy

Craig:

We need a better public service commission that will actually oversee this [investigation into price gouging by power companies] and bring in outside audits and investigations to make sure that these prices are fair and that we have a diverse economy when it comes to our energy.

George:

We have a lot of mandates on businesses, especially on our electric companies and how they operate. We’ve added a lot and the fact of the matter is that competition is the best regulator of quality and the pricing…We seem to want monopolies in this state, whether it be BGE here or Pepco. We create regions for them. That’s their territory and nobody messes with them. I’m sorry, we need competition.

Lollar:

The Lollar administration will immediately restructure the public service commission, right off the bat. We will change the way they can exercise power and [the way they] allow for cost increases for promised services the way Pepco was currently doing with the public service commission.

Gas Tax

Craig:

[We need to] eliminate the increases on the gas tax, specifically what is going to happen in 2016, when those changes are taking place.

George:

We need to drill for natural gas. We are rich in resources in this state. Did you know we’re rich in oil also? People don’t realize that. We can be competitive. We can help to the cause of becoming energy independent. And once we start doing that, you will see prices begin to drop from companies who want our business.

Lollar:

This gas tax was just another opportunity to put money in a transportation trust fund that gets raided year after year. My lieutenant governor and I will conduct external audits on every tax bill that’s been passed over the past seven years.

Education

Craig:

Politicians should not decide how students are rated, they should not decide how teachers are evaluated, they should not decide what curriculum comes down on their table, that should be done at the local level…We need to get rid of, not just the PARCC testing, MSA testing, all that testing is not that way to decide what is going on in a school, how well it's doing.

George:

These mandates coming from the federal government are wrong, they create one size fits all and that’s wrong. I had bills this year to return a local locus of control, school board autonomy, parental rights, student privacy of information.

Loller:

First and foremost, we need to do away with Common Core. I don’t think that’s an opportunity or an option for us to play around with. And we’re going to have to empower local elected officials, local school board officials, parents, and teachers to determine what’s best in terms of providing quality education for their children.

Prison Reform

Craig:

We also need to let the correctional people have control, and not a gang have control of what happens in our correctional facilities.

George:

One thing I did have was substance abuse treatment programs in prison systems. It separated the drug culture. Eighty percent of our prisoners do drug crimes. It separates them and it works with them separately, it works with the younger population of the prison separately. And you can deal with those issues. You get rid of the prison gangs. These plans have worked. There is federal grant money available for it that helps it.

Lollar:

It doesn’t make sense, for example, to throw $100 million dollars into the Baltimore City corrections [system] to build 100 more beds to put juveniles in house with adult criminals. It doesn’t make sense when you use that same money to help with rehab efforts for those youth offenders to help them get on the right track.