O'Malley's Tenure Marked by Legislative Struggles and Victories - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

O'Malley's Tenure Marked by Legislative Struggles and Victories on Social Issues

Posted:

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov. Martin O'Malley spent nearly all of his eight-year tenure struggling against the Great Recession and its aftermath to maintain record spending on state schools - and raising taxes to help pay for education and other priorities. The Democratic governor also won a string of legislative victories on social issues over the years to create a liberal resume for a potential presidential run in 2016.

As O'Malley leaves office Wednesday, his willingness to push through a variety of often unpopular tax increases to avoid bigger cuts will characterize his legacy, along with wins appealing to liberals such as legalizing same-sex marriage and raising the minimum wage. He also made environmental concerns a priority and, despite his misgivings, paved the way to developing casino gambling in the state.

"Sometimes tough choices are necessary," O'Malley told reporters last week while recapping his tenure in Annapolis. "It's easy to vote to increase funding. It's hard to vote for the revenues that support that increased funding, but we've gone from $4 billion a year invested in public education to $6 billion in a pretty short period of time and in a recession."

O'Malley's management of budget problems defined his tenure. From increases in taxes, fees and tolls to borrowing and budget cuts, shortfalls were nearly always present, and it was the cutting that was hardest for the governor with big ambitions.

"Each one of these cuts here became successively more difficult, if part of your goal was not only to cut - any nitwit can cut - but to cut in ways that did not harm our strength, and our forward movement and the progress that we were achieving for our children's better future," O'Malley said this month.

Through it all, O'Malley has always been quick to note Maryland is one of only seven states to maintain the AAA bond rating from three main rating agencies throughout the recession and its aftermath, a sign of fiscal health. The governor also likes to mention that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has named Maryland the top state for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Over the years, O'Malley often fought for social issues. Two became ballot questions approved by voters in 2012: legalizing same-sex marriage and allowing students who are not in the country legally to pay in-state tuition at colleges if they or their parents pay taxes. In 2013, he successfully pushed for a ban on the death penalty in the state. That same year he won passage of a sweeping gun-control bill to make Maryland gun laws among the strictest in the nation.

While he was forced to grapple with challenging budget problems, O'Malley benefited from a Legislature controlled by Democrats, with experienced leadership in House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

"He did have a General Assembly that worked hand in glove with him," Busch, D-Anne Arundel, said in a recent interview. "I mean, it's not that we didn't disagree, but he was open to disagreement. We had a give and take with Gov. O'Malley over things that we supported and didn't support, and some you won and some you lost, but ... at least there was an ability to compromise at some stage of the game."

There also were some glaring lapses, which will make prime fodder for political opponents if O'Malley seeks higher office. The dreadful rollout of the state's health care exchange website was a major embarrassment, after talk of making Maryland a national model for health care reform. There also was a lurid contraband scandal in 2013 that showed inmates skirting security at a large state-run jail in Baltimore to an alarming degree, even impregnating security guards.

However, his pushes for sometimes unpopular tax hikes more often defined him. In 2007, his package of increases that included hikes to the sales, tobacco and corporate income taxes brought in $1.4 billion, which helped address a budget shortfall and Medicaid expansion. The taxes were approved just weeks before the recession's start.

Despite the tax hikes and tough times, O'Malley won re-election in 2010, defeating former Gov. Robert Ehrlich in a rematch by an even wider margin than their first race in 2006.

More taxes, fees and toll increases would follow, as state revenues dropped. In 2012, he backed a "flush tax" on sewer bills and a stormwater management fee dubbed the "rain tax" by critics. In 2013, O'Malley won the first increase to the state's gas tax in 20 years.

The tax increases showed O'Malley was willing to sign difficult legislation, but they also may have given voters an incentive to elect Republican Larry Hogan in 2014, even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

Del. Anthony O'Donnell, who served as the House minority leader for most of the governor's tenure, said O'Malley was "a very engaging governor." But, he said, the negative consequences of the tax increases and other fiscal policies will be felt for years.

"Larry Hogan was a great candidate and will be a great governor, but no one can deny the fact that fatigue of Martin O'Malley fiscal policy really caused people to say: 'I don't want a third term of Martin O'Malley embodied in Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown,'" O'Donnell said.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Firefighter Dies Battling Blaze at Maryland Home

    Firefighter Dies Battling Blaze at Maryland Home

    Jul 23, 2018 1:27 PM2018-07-23 17:27:00 GMT
    Monday, July 23 2018 1:28 PM EDT2018-07-23 17:28:54 GMT
    (Howard County, Md., Fire and Rescue Department via AP)(Howard County, Md., Fire and Rescue Department via AP)
    Howard County, Md., Fire Department firefighter Nathan Flynn is seen in an undated photo provided by the Howard County, Md., Fire and Rescue Department. (Howard County, Md., Fire and Rescue Department via AP)Howard County, Md., Fire Department firefighter Nathan Flynn is seen in an undated photo provided by the Howard County, Md., Fire and Rescue Department. (Howard County, Md., Fire and Rescue Department via AP)
    Authorities say a firefighter died Monday after falling through the floor of a burning home.More
    Authorities say a firefighter died Monday after falling through the floor of a burning home.           More
  • Maryland Coastal Bays Program Looking for Public Comment on Coastal Bays Report

    Maryland Coastal Bays Program Looking for Public Comment on Coastal Bays Report

    Jul 23, 2018 12:35 PM2018-07-23 16:35:00 GMT
    Monday, July 23 2018 12:35 PM EDT2018-07-23 16:35:08 GMT
    Maryland Coastal Bays Program is seeking public comment on the economic value of its Coastal Bays Watershed Report.Maryland Coastal Bays Program is seeking public comment on the economic value of its Coastal Bays Watershed Report.
    Maryland Coastal Bays Program is seeking public comment on the economic value of its Coastal Bays Watershed Report.Maryland Coastal Bays Program is seeking public comment on the economic value of its Coastal Bays Watershed Report.
    The Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) is seeking public response on the economic value of the Coastal Bays watershed report.More
    The Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) is seeking public response on the economic value of the Coastal Bays watershed report.More
  • Ocean Pines Police To Hold First National Night Out

    Ocean Pines Police To Hold First National Night Out

    Jul 23, 2018 11:22 AM2018-07-23 15:22:00 GMT
    Monday, July 23 2018 11:22 AM EDT2018-07-23 15:22:52 GMT
    BERLIN, Md. - The Ocean Pines Police Department, in conjunction with National Association of Town Watch, has announced it will host its first National Night Out on Tuesday, August 7. The department says the goal is to promote partnerships between first reMore
    BERLIN, Md. - The Ocean Pines Police Department, in conjunction with National Association of Town Watch, has announced it will host its first National Night Out on Tuesday, August 7. The department says the goal is to promote partnerships between first reMore
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Rehoboth Beach Police Looking for Theft Suspects

    Rehoboth Beach Police Looking for Theft Suspects

    The Rehoboth Beach Police Department is asking for the public's help in identifying two people involved with stealing from an arcade. The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Beach Arcade. 

    More

    The Rehoboth Beach Police Department is asking for the public's help in identifying two people involved with stealing from an arcade. The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Beach Arcade. 

    More
  • Pennsylvania Woman Wounded by Windswept Umbrella on Ocean City Beach

    Pennsylvania Woman Wounded by Windswept Umbrella on Ocean City Beach

    A scary scene on the Ocean City beach Sunday afternoon after a Pennsylvania woman was wounded by a windswept umbrella. Ocean City Beach Patrol said the incident happened on the 54th Street beach, and they received the call just after 3 p.m. Beach Patrol said an unattended umbrella swept by the wind pierced the woman's skin on her upper left chest. However, Captain Butch Arbin who was on scene said it was a non-life threatening injury.

    More

    A scary scene on the Ocean City beach Sunday afternoon after a Pennsylvania woman was wounded by a windswept umbrella. Ocean City Beach Patrol said the incident happened on the 54th Street beach, and they received the call just after 3 p.m. Beach Patrol said an unattended umbrella swept by the wind pierced the woman's skin on her upper left chest. However, Captain Butch Arbin who was on scene said it was a non-life threatening injury.

    More
  • WBOC Morning Weather July 23, 2018

    WBOC Morning Weather July 23, 2018

Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices