CATONSVILLE, Md. (AP) — Republican Larry Hogan said Tuesday that if he is elected governor he will try to end state income taxes on retirement income sometime during his first term. His opponent, Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, said he believed Hogan should provide more details about how he would do that without making significant cuts in other important parts of the state budget.
Hogan, speaking at a forum featuring the two candidates at the Charlestown retirement community in Baltimore County, sparked a wave of applause at the forum when he mentioned the idea. An Anne Arundel County real estate broker, Hogan said he first would aim to get spending under control in the state capital.
"Once we get it under control, our plan — we can't do it immediately — will be to completely eliminate state income taxes for pensions and retirement income," Hogan said to a ballroom full of retired residents.
Hogan already has said he would exempt the pensions of law enforcement and first-responder retirees from state income taxes. He went further on Tuesday night, saying he would seek to exempt all retirement income from state taxes. In an interview after the forum, Hogan said it's more of a long-range goal he hopes to accomplish toward the end of a first term.
"When we're ready to make an announcement about it, we'll have it all figured out, but tonight it's just an aspiration of something we'd like to try to accomplish," Hogan said.
Hogan has largely focused his campaign against a variety of tax increases approved during the two terms of Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley.
Brown said in an interview after the forum that he believed Hogan should be more specific about how he would find the money to make the exemptions. Brown has proposed creating a commission to study tax reform in the state in the first 100 days of his administration. He also has consistently said Maryland can't cut its way to prosperity.
"Showing up in front of a group of Marylanders like Larry Hogan did in front of the Maryland state Fraternal Order of Police and promising to exempt law-enforcement retirement income is not the responsible way to campaign and certainly not the way you govern," Brown said after the forum Tuesday night.
It was the candidates' second forum since each won his respective party's primary in June. Brown appeared first, giving an opening statement, answering several questions and ending with a short conclusion. Hogan came on stage after Brown, and he answered the same questions, which were chosen by a panel at the retirement community. Some of the main questions focused on improving education and the economy, as well as the candidates' positions on marijuana laws.