Martin O'Malley, Thomas V. Mike Miller

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, right, delivers his State of the State speech as Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, left, listens Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 in Annapolis, Md. O'Malley urged lawmakers to invest in the future to spur job growth. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

ANNAPOLIS Gov. Martin O'Malley made his case for job creation and same-sex marriage Wednesday, promoting his most ambitious agenda to date in his sixth State of the State address.

O'Malley stressed his administration's goal of growing the middle-class and family-owned businesses, labeling this year's budget a jobs budget.

To balance that budget, the governor has proposed $800 million in spending cuts and reductions this year, but his new job creation initiatives would require new taxes on everything from income to gas. Cuts alone won't do it this year, he said.

"In fact, to achieve balance over the last three years, we have relied almost entirely on cuts," O'Malley said. "But with 84 cents of every dollar we invest allocated to public education, public safety, and public health and with one of the smallest state government workforces in the country every passing year leaves fewer and fewer responsible options for budget cutting."

O'Malley got a lukewarm reception from Republican critics.

"It shows he is totally out of touch with Maryland families," Sen. David Brinkley, R-Frederick, said. "It was not so much a state of the state as a state of his policies and his politics."

One of O'Malley's proposed increases would cap income tax deductions and phase out certain exemptions for those he's dubbed Maryland's higher earners.

In addition, O'Malley believes he can double the flush tax yield by switching most households over to a consumption-based fee structure.

"Along these lines, my Republican predecessor called the 'flush tax' one of his most important accomplishments while in office." O'Malley said. "By allowing us to make green upgrades to wastewater treatment plants, we have greatly reduced the pollution flowing into our Bay."

Seeking to increase transportation funding for construction and repair projects that would create jobs, O'Malley intends to submit a bill repealing the sales tax exemption on a gallon of gasoline phasing it out by 2 percentage points each year for three years unless the price of gas spikes.

"It's going to be an extremely tough sell," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who has advised O'Malley to meet with delegations and various elected officials if he hopes to see the tax increased at all in these difficult times.

Aware that legislators are wary of governors transferring money from the Transportation Trust Fund in order to balance the budget, O'Malley said he would like to safeguard future investments in the fund.

"My understanding is the governor is very receptive to people wanting to protect those funds," said Donald Fry, a former state senator and president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. "There will be some sort of legally enforceable way to ensure the money in the transportation fund is used for transportation purposes."

Fry is also a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding, which recommended a state constitutional amendment, or "firewall," to keep those funds from being used for other purposes.

O'Malley is pursuing an equally aggressive social agenda, having presented his same-sex marriage bill Tuesday at a Senate Judicial Proceedings committee hearing. In his State of the State, he argued that same-sex marriage could be balanced with religious interests.

Because of the scope of his agenda, O'Malley is certain to have plenty of fights on his hands this legislative session.

O'Malley's defense of the same-sex marriage bill is where he is likely to receive national attention, said Todd Eberly, assistant professor of political science at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

"He needs a high profile legislative session for his political resume," Eberly said.

O'Malley appeared ready to rise to the occasion.

"Asking our fellow citizens to do more will not be popular," O'Malley said. "But without anger, fear or meanness, let's ask one another: How much less do we think would be good for our children's future?"

Capital News Service's Mali Krantz contributed to this report.

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(2) comments

Larry Laffer

Bravo, olgeezer!! It seems as if it's only us "seasoned" citizens who understand the realities of budgeting and the full impact of illegal immigration. Odd, isn't it, that the "Government" can find the one cow in 20 million that's been infected with "mad cow disease" but they can't seem to find 30 million illegals!?!

olgeezer

It was with much disgust that I read of Governor O’Malley and his bloodsucking Democrat co-conspirators lying about how 84 cents of every tax dollar goes to education, public safety and public health and how Marylanders need higher taxes to cover these services.

One only has only to do cursory investigation to find that O’Malley’ and his left-wing cohorts in the General Assembly are spending $1.7 BILLION on programs for illegal aliens. They ignore the laws regarding immigration issues despite constitutional mandates that they enforce them.

The illegal Hispanic population in Maryland has almost tripled since 2000. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates there more than 300,000 illegals in Maryland. Under Governor Martin O’Malley’s sanctuary policies the state has become an illegal alien magnet. According to Accuracy In Media, the current cost of illegals in Maryland is estimated to be more than $1.7 billion per year, more than three-quarters of the state’s $2 billion structural deficit.

The cost to taxpayers of educating the 80,300 children of illegal aliens from kindergarten to 12th grade is more than $966 million annually. An additional $250 million is spent providing special English instruction to an estimated 35,000 children of illegal aliens. Then factor in another $170 million of taxpayer money for the cost of healthcare for illegals. The cost of incarcerating illegal alien criminals exceeds $30 million.

States that have instituted tough policies toward illegals have found that they pack up and move to sanctuary cities or states that ignore their illegal status. Unfortunately one of those states is Maryland. Any governor, mayor or local official who offers sanctuary to illegal aliens and prohibits the police from enforcing the law is guilty aiding and abetting criminals.

Stop the programs for illegals and they will go elsewhere, our budget will be balanced, and our already too high taxes will not need to be raised.

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