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Local legislators unimpressed by Gov. O'Malley's State of the State address

January 30, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley showcased Maryland’s achievements during his tenure as governor in his State of the State address Wednesday and made a case for gun control and the repeal of the death penalty.

But Washington County legislators, most of them Republicans, were less than impressed.

“I think he painted a very optimistic picture that unfortunately doesn’t reflect reality,” said Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington.

Gov. O’Malley started Wednesday’s speech with a reference to the Baltimore Ravens, and immediately got a loud ovation from the legislators and assembled guests.

“There is more that unites us than divides us. And this year one of those things is the mighty, mighty Baltimore Ravens,” O’Malley said.

In his speech, the governor talked about possible solutions to ease traffic congestion near the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and mentioned a renewed push to develop offshore wind power. He also touted his budget plan that includes $336 million for school construction, the Associated Press reported.

One local legislator, Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said he was buoyed by the governor’s optimism.

“I think it was a terrific speech,” he said.

“The governor made it clear we are on the mend in terms of our economy in Maryland … There is so much to be happy about compared to the last four years,” Donoghue said.

“I understand the concerns of the minority party but hopefully we can all work together and not behave like Washington D.C. does,” he said.

Still, Donoghue conceded that issues like gun control or the repeal of the death penalty would get very contentious in the Maryland General Assembly.

Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington and the chair of the Washington County legislative delegation in the state capital, said he disagreed with the speech in terms of the direction the state is headed.

The delegate, who offered a rebuttal of the governor’s speech on Maryland Public Television, said that overall spending by the state since the 2008 fiscal year had increased by 26 percent.

“This type of budget growth is not sustainable and perpetuates the cycle of deficits and tax increases,” Serafini said in his rebuttal, according to a text of the speech that his office provided.

“The Republican members of the legislature will continue to work with the Administration giving them alternatives that slow budget growth and resolve the state’s budget deficit without raising taxes or fees on Marylanders still suffering from the effects of the recession,” he said.

Parrott said that the governor had increased state spending every single year. “Their projected budgets were higher than what he actually spent. So their wish list was higher, if you will, and they cut from their wish list. That’s not a cut in spending,” Parrott said.

As for the issue of gun control, Serafini said that the violence in our society needs to be addressed.

“I don’t know that attacking guns is going to do it,” Serafini said.

The delegate said in his rebuttal speech that there needs to be a strong emphasis on the mental health issues associated with gun violence.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany, said that a lot of what the governor said was “fluff.”

“The fact of the matter is when we talk about renewable energy … we have so many more cost effective ways of producing renewable energy that are cheaper than (off-shore) wind power,” Myers said.

“I don’t believe that the state is as fiscally sound as what he (the governor) claims,” Myers said.

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