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Gov. Martin J. O'Malley
Gov. Martin J. O'Malley (file 2013 (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

O’Malley looks to the past and future

ANNAPOLIS — Outgoing Democratic Gov. Martin J. O’Malley spent time Friday looking back over his last eight years in office and looking forward, possibly to a run for president in 2016.

The Democratic governor’s two terms will come to an end at noon Wednesday when Larry Hogan is sworn in as his successor.

O’Malley said he has some regrets.

“There are things I wish we could have gotten to sooner,” said O’Malley, whose terms in office saw one of the most difficult financial periods in the history of the country, passage of a same-sex marriage measure, repeal of the death penalty, passage of the DREAM Act and drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens, an expansion of gambling, and passage of a controversial gun control bill.

O’Malley repeated that he was “seriously considering” a run for president and that his decision is not dependent on whether Hillary Clinton decides to run.

In the meantime, O’Malley said, he will go on the national lecture circuit and has taken a position as a guest lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University.

O’Malley went back to his oft-repeated mantra that his administration prioritized spending in schools and higher education, grew jobs at a faster rate than Virginia and Pennsylvania, and reduced government size while also reducing government spending by $9.7 billion.

He said he has had several conversations with Hogan and has provided the incoming governor a list of suggested budget moves that, according to O’Malley, would help balance the budget without the need to cut education funding through the geographic cost of education index, which provides additional money to counties with higher costs of living.

O’Malley handed out his recommendations and said he believed they would help ease the work of Hogan and the General Assembly in balancing the budget. He also urged both the new governor and legislature to wait for new revenue projections, which are due to be released in March.

“Hopefully, for all of our sakes, the Congress will behave and not threaten to shut down and we’ll see our revenues take on some better projections than we’ve seen both in Maryland and Virginia, and if that happens it will also greatly aid in the work of putting together the budget,” O’Malley said. “I think the legislature and the incoming governor would be well-advised to wait until those next revenue estimates in March before inking this budget.”

Hogan, his successor and just the third Republican governor elected in more than 40 years, ran a campaign that was essentially a referendum on the last eight years.

O’Malley, who has been critical of the campaign run by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, called his two-time running mate the best lieutenant governor in the country, and he steered clear of the criticisms he has leveled recently.

“Every candidate makes tactical decisions in their own campaigns, and I’ve made them in mine,” O’Malley said.

Not everyone sees the picture of O’Malley’s tenure in office the same way. Others, including some Democrats in the legislature, have been critical of the tax and fee increases under O’Malley, which they say have hurt the middle class.

“You’ll always have detractors,” O’Malley said. “If you say the sky is blue there will be someone who says, ‘It’s not. It’s green.’ That’s the beauty of our democracy.”


About Bryan P. Sears

Bryan P. Sears covers Maryland politics and government affairs for The Daily Record.