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O'Malley talks taxes, Ehrlich, jobs, corrections

April 28, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

o O'Malley campaigns in Washington County

In an interview while campaigning in Washington County on Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley repeated his "hope" he won't need a tax increase in a second term.

Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a former governor also running this year, has been saying O'Malley will raise taxes again. During a campaign stop in Hagerstown this month, Ehrlich said a second O'Malley term would produce a "monumental" tax hike.

"It's my hope that I never have to raise taxes again," O'Malley, a Democrat, replied Wednesday during an interview with The Herald-Mail. He said he couldn't have predicted the national recession several months into his term.

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Facing a large budget deficit in 2007, O'Malley called a special session resulting in a $1.3 billion package of tax increases.

Asked about the potential for job growth in Washington County -- where the unemployment rate has been about 11 percent this year -- and the rest of Western Maryland, O'Malley said the region needs to dramatically transform the skills needed to attract new businesses.

Responding to a question about the status of the prison system, which was turbulent under Ehrlich, O'Malley said correctional officers are frustrated about having furlough days and not getting cost-of-living adjustments.

But the system has gotten safer for officers, especially since the state closed the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup, and violent crime has gone down, he said.

Finally, asked about Ehrlich continuing his WBAL radio show despite being a candidate for governor, O'Malley said it might not be right or ethical. Yet, it's an asset, because it shows how mean-spirited and ineffective Ehrlich is, O'Malley said.

"He can keep his radio show. He can keep his golf game," O'Malley said. "He can keep whatever other hobbies and habits he likes."

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