By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan kicked off the 2022 legislative session Wednesday by discussing his legislative priorities with reporters in Annapolis.

Hogan highlighted his interest in passing crime-fighting legislation to shore up pay and training for police officers. He also wants to provide tax relief for Marylanders who run small businesses or are planning for retirement.

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The governor, who already announced his intention to use last year’s budget surplus on tax relief, estimates this tax cut would bring $4.6 billion in relief for Marylanders and businesses.

“We’ve pushed the largest tax cut in state history,” Hogan said. “It got passed last year nearly unanimously or unanimously. It was great working with the legislature to get that done.”

The governor added that he was looking forward to “tripling down” on his efforts and providing more tax relief to struggling Maryland families, small business owners, but mostly to retirees who have been moving out of the state “because of the retirement tax.”

This week, Hogan proposed the Retirement Tax Reduction Act and the Working Marylanders Tax Relief Act, which would eventually eliminate state retirement taxes for all retirees.

Should the legislation secure the support it needs to pass the General Assembly, it would be phased in over a period of time beginning this year.

“We think it’s the right time,” Hogan said. “We now can afford to do this. That’s usually the number one criticism we get from our colleagues across the aisle. They say, ‘Yeah we’d love to help our retirees and our families and our small businesses. We just can’t afford to.’ Well, now we can afford to because we have the largest surplus in state history.”

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In response to questions, Hogan said his “re-fund the police” program is in response to national dialogue around police budgets as opposed to local decisions about crime spending.

“It’s a national initiative,” Hogan responded. “People have been talking about—for two years—the police, about defunding the police. And I said we shouldn’t do that, we should re-fund the police.”

Hogan reintroduced two anti-crime measures earlier this week that he previously tried without success to get through the legislature.

Hogan initially announced his “re-fund the police” initiative in October 2021. That’s when he pledged to spend $150 million to raise salaries, help law enforcement agencies with recruitment, pay for body cameras and de-escalation training, and other programs.

Hogan has upped the amount to $500 million over the next three years.

“This is an important initiative to try to retain our police officers to make our police safer and it has the overwhelming support of 80% of every demographic group in Maryland in every single jurisdiction,” he said.

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The General Assembly’s 90-day legislative session ends on April 11.

CBS Baltimore Staff