Governor O'Malley Delivers Address at MML's Fall Legislative Conference
Focuses on Fiscal Responsibility
CAMBRIDGE, MD (October 24, 2008) – Governor Martin O’Malley, focusing on fiscal responsibility and the national economic downturn, today delivered an address before over 1,000 state, county, and local officials from over 120 municipalities attending the 2008 Maryland Municipal League Fall Legislative Conference.
Governor O’Malley, a former Mayor of Baltimore, spoke from experience to the audience of local officials who rely on strong state and federal partnerships to manage the challenges facing their respective jurisdictions.
“This is the most serious economic crisis that I can remember our country going through in my lifetime – but we are going to get through this together,” said Governor O’Malley. “The best days in our life are not only the easiest days, and in the times of great adversity, Marylanders have always risen to the challenge.”
Governor O’Malley highlighted several areas where Maryland outpaces the rest of the nation. “Despite all the doom and gloom out there, there are very real signs that Maryland is climbing out of this national economic downturn more quickly than other States,” he said. “Today, Maryland has the 7th best job growth in the nation, and we’ve been one of only 9 States where job growth has met or exceeded 1 percent. Meanwhile exports out of the Port of Baltimore have increased by more than one billion dollars over the past year, and our unemployment rate is 25% lower than that of the nation as a whole – in fact, it’s the 13th lowest in the country.”
Maryland was ranked third in the nation for best schools and earlier this year, the Milken Institute ranked Maryland second in the nation in technology preparedness and first in the nation for human capital investment.
Governor O’Malley also addressed the State’s past and current budget woes and the importance of protecting and investing in Maryland’s priorities.
“We are only going to be able to continue leveraging our potential if we continue to protect and invest in our shared priorities. This was the decision we made a year ago when we came together in the special session and made some very tough decisions – choices that allowed us, before this national economic crisis took its turn for the worse – to nearly close the $1.7 billion structural deficit we inherited,” Governor O’Malley said.
Governor O’Malley stressed the hardships the State would have faced if the structural deficit had not been closed during special session, and how the recent cuts at the Board of Public Works, though not easy, would have been far worse if the State had not addressed the budget shortfall immediately.
“To give you an idea of the circumstances we would have faced, we need only look around the country to see what other States are confronting,” said Governor O’Malley. “In Massachusetts, for example, they are facing over one billion dollars in budget shortfalls. In Florida, they have cut aid to school districts by $130 per pupil. Our neighbors in Virginia are raising college tuition. In Tennessee, between 30,000 and 40,000 seriously ill people could lose hospitalization. And Rhode Island has eliminated health coverage for 1,000 low income parents.”
On October 15, Governor O’Malley and the Board of Public Works approved over $345 million in budget reductions to balance the FY09 budget, including over $297 million in general funds, and over $50 million in special and federal funds. The Board also approved the elimination of 830 state positions, bringing the total number of positions eliminated under the O’Malley-Brown Administration to more the 1,500. Following the national economic downturn and the Board of Revenue Estimates projections last month projecting a revenue shortfall of $432 million for FY09, Governor O’Malley directed the Department of Budget and Management to cut spending in all state agencies up to 5%.
Although budget cuts were made across State agencies, Maryland is still able to protect its priorities, including: maintaining a record $5.3 billion investment in K-12 education and a record $741 million investment in school construction; holding the line on college tuition for a third consecutive year and increasing community college funding by nearly 40%; expanding health care access to 100,000 additional Marylanders and closing the Medicaid donut hole; improving public safety through local, federal and State partnerships; protecting and preserving our open space; restoring the Chesapeake Bay; and promoting energy conservation and renewable fuels.
Governor O’Malley stressed that in order for the State to continue to make steady progress and to continue to protect our investments in improving public health, public education, and public safety, depends on Maryland’s ability to pass the slots referendum on the November election ballot.
“Much of our ability to continue making progress depends on our ability to pass Question 2 – and whether we are going to be able to keep Maryland dollars in Maryland which are currently being invested in other States toward their priorities,” Governor O’Malley said. “This is a moderate, limited, state-controlled proposal with a non-partisan 9-member State commission providing close regulation. We hope that we can count on your support on this very important issue.”
“It has been a great honor to work with all of you these past 20 months, as together we have continued to exercise the greatest of freedom’s privileges – the freedom to choose a better future for ourselves, for our children, for our prosperity.”
A voluntary, nonprofit, nonpartisan association controlled and maintained by city and town governments, the Maryland Municipal League (MML) works to strengthen the role and capacity of municipal government through research, legislation, technical assistance, training and the dissemination of information for its members. Through its membership in the National League of Cities MML offers legislative representation in Washington, urban research programs, and a national municipal government information exchange. MML is the only statewide organization in Maryland composed solely of municipal officials and devoted to the promotion of all branches of municipal administration.