Marylanders have shown what we can accomplish when we work together. Thanks to thousands of you who demanded change, we are turning this state around.
When I entered office, I pledged to pursue tax relief and common-sense initiatives that put money back into the pockets of hard-working Marylanders. I’m proud to say that we have done just that. We repealed the rain tax and ended our first two legislative sessions with no new tax increases, proving that we can work across the aisle to correct past mistakes and improve our business climate. In fact, we even cut taxes for retirees, something that hadn’t been done in Annapolis for nearly a decade.
We eliminated more than 100 job-killing regulations, reduced over 250 fees, and moved forward with the largest tax refund in Maryland history. Toll taxes had grown out of control, so we rolled them back for the first time in more than 50 years, saving families, workers, and businesses more than $270 million.
These initiatives have strengthened our economy, and our progress is starting to show results. After years of unemployment that was higher than the national average, more than 74,000 jobs have been created statewide since January 2015. In fact, Maryland went from last to first in job creation in the mid-Atlantic region, and we are now adding jobs at one of the fastest rates in the nation.
Responsible budgeting has allowed us to make smart investments in our state. We invested record funding in K-12 education, spent nearly $2 billion on roads and bridges, and allocated more than $1 billion into the Rainy Day Fund—all while eliminating 90 percent of the $5 billion budget deficit inherited from the previous administration.
We are also working hard to revitalize Baltimore, our state’s largest city, and key economic driver. Our administration launched Project C.O.R.E., a program that will demolish thousands of blighted homes and replace them with green space, affordable housing, and retail – creating a stronger foundation for redevelopment and reinvestment in the city.
Finally, we are aggressively addressing some of the most important and difficult challenges that have been facing our state for far too long. Our Heroin Task Force held meetings across the state and championed a student-based addiction prevention campaign, just one of many recommendations made in their final report. We formed a Regulatory Reform Commission which is conducting a comprehensive review of Maryland’s regulatory climate and working to determine how best it can be improved.
And because Maryland is home to some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country, so we also created a bipartisan commission to reform how we draw our Congressional and Legislative maps.
Overall, we have made some great progress, but our journey and work is just beginning. Together we can accomplish even more great things and continue to change Maryland for the better.
I look forward to doing it with you.