Over the past week, Gov. Larry Hogan made appearances at a pair of area Jewish day schools – at the Bais Yaakov School for Girls in Mount Washington and the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, as well as to other Jewish organizations.
Jmore caught up with the governor at Charles E. Smith last Friday, Dec. 16.
Why have you visited so many Jewish schools and organizations this week?
The Jewish community is very important to the state of Maryland, but we’re also reaching out to every community. I think it’s an important part of the job, and I enjoy getting out of the office and meeting people. We’ve had three Christmas parties this week and a Chanukah party coming up. We want to reach out to all faiths and people from all walks of life. I’m trying to represent everybody in the state.
There’s a lot of divisiveness and tension in our country right now. What can we do about it?
There is a lot of tension and antagonism, and we’ve got to figure out ways for people to come together, not only in Maryland but across the country.
There will be no toleration of hate crimes in this state. None. Most of the responses are taken at the local level by local police. Meanwhile, the state attorney general [Brian E. Frosh] has established a hotline for people to report hate speech and hate crimes [1-866-481-8361].
About the causes, there’s a lot of anger and frustration, and we’ve got to find ways to bring us all together.
You are promoting the BOOST financial support program for low-income families to send children to non-public schools. But what about public school funding for low-income families?
We need better public schools in all areas of Maryland with lower incomes. So for two years in a row, we have provided record funding for K-12 education in Maryland. For example, in Baltimore City, we have spent about three times as much per pupil in state funding as we do in the rest of the state. And we’re trying not just to put in more money but to come up with more creative ways to improve schools in low-income areas so all Maryland students can have an excellent education.
We have great schools, and we have some that are not doing so well. Teachers make a great school; so does strong funding, and you also need discipline and focus. I believe that every single child in Maryland, no matter the circumstances they grow up in, deserves a world-class education.
As governor, what has been the hardest decision you’ve had to make so far?
About 90 days after becoming governor, we had riots in Baltimore. We had to decide how to handle this situation. Within the first hours [on Apr. 27, 2015], 400 businesses had been burned, looted and destroyed, and 170 police and firefighters had been injured. The city of Baltimore was overwhelmed. I had to decide whether to take action from the state, which I did when I declared a State of Emergency, so we sent help from the state into the city. I spent the entire week in Baltimore, and an entire team brought peace and order back to the city.”
What makes Maryland’s economy so strong?
We have the highest-educated population and the highest median income in the United States. We have so many things going for us, but we weren’t doing so well, which is why I ran for governor. Our state economy ranked 49th out of 50 states, and we had lost 8,000 businesses and 100,000 jobs. I ran because I wanted to turn things around. We’ve gone from the 49th too number 11 [in highest ranking in state economies], the largest improvement of any state in the nation. Last year in Maryland was the best year for business and the best year for job growth in the past 15 years. We added 72,000 private sector jobs. We’re doing better than almost anybody else.
Peter Arnold is an Olney, Md.-based freelance writer.
Photos of Gov. Larry Hogan by Zephan Blaxberg
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