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O’Malley to propose budget with more cuts, no new taxes

ANNAPOLIS — Looking ahead to his second term, Gov. Martin O’Malley said Wednesday his first budget proposal will reflect another challenging year with more cuts, but that no new tax proposals will be included in his January budget.

The Democrat said any increase in state revenue will come from more people landing jobs, not taxes.

“I’m looking for cuts — and a constant diet of cuts — until our economy comes back so that the revenues come back, and we’ve seen our revenues start to bump up because we’ve seen job creation actually in the positive zone for the first time in a long time,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley defeated Republican former Gov. Robert Ehrlich on Tuesday with 56 percent of the vote to 42 percent. O’Malley’s victory was a bright spot for Democrats in a year when Republicans made big gains in winning governor’s races in other parts of the country. O’Malley noted the losses while talking about the elections before a meeting of the state’s Board of Public Works.

“The Democratic Governor’s Association will meet in a smaller room this year,” O’Malley said.

While O’Malley will have to address an estimated budget deficit of about $1.1 billion next year, he noted that’s nothing new to him.

“Every year for the last three, we’ve had to close a gap of a billion or more dollars because of this recession, and we’re going to have to do that next year, and I’m preparing a budget without any new taxes that will all be balanced with cuts and some transfers,” O’Malley said.

Still, unlike past years, O’Malley said revenue estimates recently show an increase for the first time during his tenure. The governor said he hoped that would continue, and he was optimistic he could reduce the number of furlough days for state employees that have become an unwelcome staple of state spending reductions.

O’Malley declined to outline any budget-cutting plans, but he said they would be similar to past reductions in recent years.

“All you have to do is look at the last $5.6 billion, and you’ll see more of the same,” O’Malley said, referring to past budget holes he’s had to fill.

O’Malley also said he had not spoken with Ehrlich since the race was decided. But President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden called him. O’Malley also accentuated his gratitude for Obama’s visit last month in Prince George’s County to help energize voters in the Maryland suburbs of the nation’s capital, a key area for O’Malley.

Prince George’s delivered big time for O’Malley, who won 88 percent of the vote there, compared to Ehrlich’s 11.3 percent. O’Malley also won big in Montgomery County, with 68 percent of the vote compared to Ehrlich’s 31 percent. O’Malley won about 62 percent of the vote in Montgomery County in their 2006 race.

Howard County also was a significant jurisdiction the governor, who won about 53 percent of the vote there, compared to 45 percent for Ehrlich.

O’Malley also did better than Ehrlich in Baltimore County compared to their 2006 race. O’Malley nearly tied Ehrlich there this year. In 2006, Ehrlich won by about 8,400 votes.

O’Malley’s margin of victory was much larger overall in the rematch with Ehrlich than in their first race. O’Malley defeated Ehrlich in 2006 with 53 percent of the vote, compared to 46 percent for Ehrlich.