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O'Malley Gives State Of The State Speech
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January 31, 2013
Flanked by political leaders and diplomats, Governor Martin O’Malley delivered yesterday a seventh State of the State address that had a clear valedictory feel. WYPR’s Karen Hosler was among those tucked along the walls of the crowded House chamber and filed this report.
Karen Hosler: The governor thanked Maryland lawmakers for difficult votes over the years that he said have yielded a string of successes. Among them, he listed better schools, lower crime rates, a cleaner environment and a budget almost in balance.
Governor Martin O’Malley: As we emerge—and we still have a long ways to go—but as we emerge from the toughest of economic times, the State of our State is strong, and we are growing stronger still. And none of this, none of this, none of this happened by chance.
Hosler: And after he recapped his current agenda of gun control measures, A death penalty repeal and encouraging development of off-shore wind, O’Malley charged the lawmakers with one more really tough job: creating a new taxing scheme for roads, bridges and mass transit.
O’Malley: We can figure this out together, for every citizen in our state, and we can do it now and in this session or all of us are going to waste more time and money sitting in more and worse traffic. To govern is to choose.
Hosler: Notably, the governor neither endorsed nor countered a regional gas tax plan outlined last week by Senate President Mike Miller.
Senate President Mike Miller: He wants to see my bill first and then he’ll put in a bill. So, we’ll see.
Hosler: O’Malley has shown no reluctance to take the lead on hot button emotional issues such as finger-printing gun buyers, abolishing capital punishment and erecting giant wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City. But as a potential candidate for national office—who already has a hefty record of raising taxes—the governor seems more eager to lead from behind this year on transportation taxes. Brian Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, explained it this way:
State Senator Brian Frosh: The problem with transportation is it’s very difficult to find consensus. Everybody agrees on the principle, we need to improve our transportation infrastructure. Nobody wants to pay for it. And, so, he’s in a bit of a box.
Hosler: Republican legislators, who tend to be from rural areas where voters are particularly opposed to financing mass transit projects, say O’Malley is mostly preening for a national political audience.
State Senator E.J. Pipkin: This is the price that the citizens of Maryland are going to pay for his presidential ambitions. If you notice the agenda he spelled out today really a lot more to do with the national agenda than it did a state agenda.
Hosler: That was Senate Republican leader E.J. Pipkin, of the Eastern Shore. GOP Senator Nancy Jacobs, of Harford and Cecil counties, agreed.
State Senator Nancy Jacobs: He’s auditioning to be president. All you had to do is look and see all the, the ambassadors who were there, the people from the Obama administration. Short on ideas. I mean all he did was rehash, regurgitate the old stuff.
Hosler: The perspective was far different for Ken Ulman, the Howard County executive, whose suburban constituents are among those most in need of a mass transit upgrade.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman: You know my frustration is we come down every year for a gas tax increase and it doesn’t pass and then people throw up their hands and sort of give up. We’ve gotta change the paradigm. We’ve gotta actually come up with a real vision and sell it to the citizens.
Hosler: Sounds like tightening gun controls may be a lot easier. I’m Karen Hosler, reporting in Annapolis, for 88.1 WYPR
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