Martin O'Malley Focuses On Cutting the Budget And Encouraging New Jobs

Posted on January 19, 2010

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“O’Malley plans cuts to almost everything but schools,” reads a headline in today’s Washington Post.  The Maryland budget that Gov. Martin O’Malley will submit this week will include real budget cuts of $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion, Post reporters estimate, on top of $600 million in cuts made last year. Very few Maryland agencies or programs will escape the pain.

Elementary and secondary schools will be exempt from the budget surgery, O’Malley has indicated.  But not higher education. College tuition is probably going up.

“Because of the hard work and dedication of our educators, parents and students, our State has once again proven that we can provide a world class education,”  O’Malley said in an e-mail last week.  “Even during these difficult economic times, we’ve continued to fully fund efforts to build new, state-of-the-art classrooms, integrate curriculum across all grade levels, and hire and retain the nation’s best educators.”

It’s true. Education Week Magazine has rated Maryland’s public schools best in the nation for the second year in a row. New York and Massachusetts rank just behind Maryland.

O’Malley’s other top priorities for the 2010 session of  the General Assembly, which began last week, are “Jobs, jobs, jobs,” and wind energy.

“There is no government program that is as important and empowering as a job that allows a family to raise their kids with dignity and respect and a roof over their heads,” the governor said in another message last week.  “In these tough times, everything we accomplish this legislative session must be seen through the lens of whether or not it creates jobs, protects jobs, or improves the environment for creating and protecting jobs.”

O’Malley’s intention to focus on job creation and protection, however, will not protect all state jobs.  His budget will require trimming the state workforce, according to The Post.

The Democratic governor’s embrace of austerity and pragmatism would appear to stake a claim to the Republicans’ favorite issues — smaller government and less spending — in next fall’s election.

On wind energy, O’Malley is proposing a series of mostly technical changes intended to give Maryland an advantage over other states in the competition for a major electricity generating project using off-shore wind turbines.

— Bernie Hayden

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