By Eric Schucht
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) made Israel, COVID relief and security improvement projects the center of his address to members of Maryland’s Jewish community on Monday.
Speaking via Zoom, Hogan said the Relief Act, which he had just signed into law, will provide $1.2 billion dollars in tax relief and economic stimulus for financially struggling families, small businesses and the recently unemployed. The bill also includes direct relief checks of $750 to be sent to low-income families or $450 to individuals.
“This Relief Act offers a real lifeline to those hardest hit by this pandemic,” Hogan said. “It provides critical tax relief for unemployed Marylanders and tax breaks for small businesses that’ll help them keep their doors open and keep people on the payroll.”
Hogan said this new aid was on top of $700 million the state had already passed. He said it was “unheard of” for a piece of legislation like the Relief Act to pass so quickly and with “universal bipartisan support.”
“At a time when so many Americans seem to have stopped believing that democracy can work for them, and frustrated that Washington remains divided and gridlocked, our state, once again, has shown the nation that both parties can still come together, that we can put the people’s priorities first, and that we can deliver real bipartisan, common sense solutions to the problems that face us.”
He said the operating budget his office submitted for the 2022 fiscal year includes $2 million for the Maryland Center for School Safety for security upgrades to schools and childcare centers at risk for hate crimes or attacks; as well as $3 million for grants to nonprofits, including faith-based organizations, to support similar security enhancements.
The capital budget also includes $3.5 million for private school improvements, funding for the renovation and expansion of the Pearlstone Retreat Center, another $1 million to the community, primary and specialty care building at Sinai Hospital and increased funding for the Maryland/Israel Development Center.
Hogan recalled his 2016 visit to Israel for an economic development mission. He touted partnerships between Israeli and Maryland businesses and universities along with having established the Negev region as a sister state of Maryland.
“Every day that I’ve had the honor of serving as your governor, I’ve been a strong and steadfast supporter and advocate for the state of Israel,” Hogan said. “When we put this COVID crisis behind us, I’m looking forward to getting together with all of you in person, and I’m looking forward to trying to plan another trip to Israel as well.”
Hogan reminded his listeners of his opposition to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, or BDS. In 2017, he signed an executive order prohibiting executive branch agencies from entering into contracts with any business that won’t certify that they will not engage in a boycott of Israel.
“From day one, I’ve made it strongly and repeatedly clear that Maryland will stand steadfast in solidarity with Israel against the BDS movement,” he said.
Hogan ended by encouraging his audience to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“These vaccines are safe and effective and they are our best hope to put this pandemic to an end and to get back to the normal activities and celebrations that we all miss so much,” Hogan said.
Hogan’s appearance was part of Maryland Jewish Advocacy Day, hosted by The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the JCRC of Greater Washington, the Jewish Federation of Howard County, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Howard County and Baltimore Jewish Council.
Also speaking to the groups was first-term Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.). Manning, who is Jewish, was the first woman to chair the Jewish Federations of North America, from 2009 to 2012.
“There are many Jewish members in Congress,” she said. “While we don’t all have the same positions on every issue, it’s still something that we have in common. And I have been able to find a lot of friendships with other Jewish members, and that it’s probably not surprising to anybody in this group, but it is nice to have that in common.”