Governor Martin O’Malley continued his annual tradition of addressing the MACo Summer Conference on August 21st. He began by thanking MACo and the counties for their leadership during these difficult times. He also acknowledged the long service of Frederick County Commission President Jan Gardner and Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith.
Governor O’Malley stressed that “the most important [State] imperative can be summed up in one word with four letters – jobs…we have had five months in a row of positive job growth…for the first time in over four years.” He stated that Maryland’s job growth rate is three times the national average and stressed the State’s job creation efforts through the hiring tax credit, small business loan guaranty, sustainable communities tax credit, school construction funding, BRAC, and the consolidation of the US government’s cyber security command.
The Governor highlighted the importance of education in keeping Maryland’s economy strong. “We have been able to protect the very [education] assets that will not only pull us out of the recession, but make us stronger on the other side,” he noted. Citing the strength of Maryland’s job growth and education system, he commented, “None of this is by accident – it is the product of choices.”
He also stated that the State’s job creation efforts have resulted in a higher than expected closing balance for FY 2010 of $300 million and that the federal government is providing Maryland with an additional $289 million in Medicaid assistance and $179 million in education jobs aid.
He also stated that the counties would “absolutely have a voice” on the commission studying teacher pensions and promised that the restoration of local highway user revenues would be a top priority when the economy allows. He also stressed the need to reform the state’s transportation infrastructure funding, noting that Germany invests 10% of its annual budget on infrastructure while the US only invests 2%.