Yesterday Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley delivered his eighth and last State of the State Address (he is term limited). And yesterday just a few blocks away Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler filed as a candidate hoping to replace O’Malley as governor. Then last night both men spoke at the annual Annapolis meeting of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland at the Loews Hotel.
The governor and the governor wannabe painted dramatically different pictures of the state’s economy. O’Malley said that Maryland leads the region, including all competing surrounding states, in job growth. He said Maryland’s job growth has been twice Virginia’s over the past two years. Virginia is often held out as being more business-friendly than Maryland.
“Can we do better? I should hope so,” O’Malley said. He particularly pointed out, “We have not done enough for our veterans.” He touted the recent partnership of Maryland with New Jersey and Virginia for UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) development, and its potential benefits to Southern Maryland.
Gansler on the other hand criticized the state’s tax policy He said the O’Malley administration (of which gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown as lieutenant governor is a big part) has had 40 tax increases. He said over that time Virginia has been storing money away in a “rainy day fund.”
Gansler said the state needed to leverage its advantage in cyber security and life sciences. “We need to focus on getting an entrepreneurial attitude here in Maryland,” he said.
He said the minority and rural achievement gaps in Maryland public schools, when the state is called the number one in the nation in education, are pulling down the state’s ability to grow economically. He said of education in Southern Maryland, as well as the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland, “We need to focus on all areas of the state,” adding that extended to transportation needs as well.
Gansler said he and his running mate Jolene Ivey chose the anniversary of the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (the poll tax amendment) to file. They are calling for extending early voting to the Saturday before the general election at all polling places and not just one in each county.
O’Malley praised Southern Maryland for its role in the state’s economic development. “You have been a dynamic region in Southern Maryland. He also praised the political leadership of the region. “Many can govern in good times. Many of you here have governed in difficult times.”
After speaking, O’Malley, at the table at w