CHARLESTOWN — Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan spent time with local leaders, business owners and the general public as his campaign made a stop in the county.

“We think a lot of people here in Cecil County want to see a real change in direction,” the Edgewater businessman, and founder of the grassroots Change Maryland organization, said Thursday before an event at the Wellwood.

“My priorities are jobs, middle-class taxpayers and restoring our economy,” he said. “This state has gotten so far off track over the past seven years. We’ve increased state spending by $10 billion and passed 40 consecutive tax hikes that have taken $9.5 billion out of the pockets of struggling Maryland families and small businesses.

“It’s hurt a lot of people in Cecil County and throughout the rest of the state,” he said.

The loss of thousands of small businesses, hundreds of thousands of jobs and rampant unemployment has drained the state of its potential, Hogan said.

“Our economy ranks 44th out of 50 states, which is simply unacceptable,” he said. “I think the people of Maryland deserve better. The government needs to get off of our backs and out of our pockets so that we can grow the private sector, put people back to work and turn our economy around.”

Hogan said that if he were governor he would cut state spending by hundreds of millions in “waste, abuse and fraud.”

“We would run the government more efficiently and effectively,” he said. “We would begin an outside audit of every state agency and try to make sure that we spend every single penny of taxpayer money wisely.”

Once spending is under control, Hogan would look to roll back some recent tax increases, including the “rain tax,” or an impervious surface tax for areas that increase run-off. He would also propose tax credits for residents’ pensions.

“I talk to people every day who are living on a fixed income or retired that say, ‘I love the state of Maryland. I don’t want to leave, but we can’t afford to stay,’” Hogan said. “We’re going to look at all taxes after we get spending under control, and do everything we can to roll back as many as possible.”

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