MML Officials Hear From Cardin, O’Malley

OCEAN CITY — U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley delivered bookend speeches to the Maryland Municipal League (MML) convention in Ocean City this week with remarks often long on rhetoric and short on substance.

State and federal leaders were all over the resort area and the Lower Shore this week to attend events in conjunction with the annual MML convention in Ocean City. After somewhat relaxed opening MML events last Sunday, Cardin delivered a speech at the opening of the formal session on Monday morning at the host Roland E. Powell Convention Center. On Tuesday night, O’Malley delivered a speech to the state’s municipal leaders during the event’s formal dinner.

Cardin told MML leaders in Ocean City on Monday they are on the front lines of representation for the residents of their communities and should not be hampered by the frequent logjams in Congress and the federal government.

“Local governments and municipalities are the end of the line for the services Americans want and they should not be held hostage by the federal government’s debate over the budget,” he said.

Cardin, a member of the Budget and Finance committees, told MML leaders in Ocean City on Monday that Congress has to put aside its partisan differences and get important legislation enacted. He specifically pointed to the failure to pass the transportation reauthorization bill and a long-term budget agreement.

“The Senate has already passed a transportation bill that has strong bipartisan support and I know many local leaders are waiting anxiously for a final bill,” Cardin said on Monday. “The House needs to move beyond partisan politics because the passage of this bill is critically important to many communities. It will create jobs, help stimulate future growth and provide a boost to our overall economy. We need to get this done now.”

Pitching to the MML, Cardin said he was able to include an amendment on the Senate’s version of the transportation bill which gives local governments the ability to make choices on how they spend federal transportation dollars.

“Local governments know what their communities need and I want to give them the fiscal power that will enable them to make the right transportation choices for their communities,” he said.

On Tuesday night, O’Malley addressed the MML convention and followed a pounded home a consistent them of all Maryland has to be proud of despite the challenges it faces.

“For all the challenges we face, just think of what our colleagues in other states would do to be number one in education, number one in innovation, and number one in research and development,” he said. “Think of what other states would trade to be in the top five for economic performance. How many other states would like to be able to say they have the third lowest tax burden as a share of income, or that despite this relatively low tax burden, their people have chosen to hold tuition increases to the lowest percentage in America?”

The governor continued to hammer home Maryland’s virtues in what essentially became a litany of what the state has accomplished compared to its neighbors.

“What would other states trade to have a natural treasure like the Chesapeake Bay, with populations of blue crabs and oysters that are rebounding thanks to your choices?” he said. “How many other states would like to be able to say that together with the hardworking men and women of law enforcement, they’ve been able to come together and drive violent crime and homicide down to three-decade lows?”

O’Malley’s address eventually came around to some of the state’s continued problems with job creation and economic development in the face of a slowly recovering economy.

“There is no progress without jobs, and there is no job creation without choices,” he said. “Together, we’ve chosen to move forward with a balanced approach of record spending cuts, modern investment, regulatory reform and yes, balanced revenues in the state where we pay the ninth lowest sale tax in America.”

O’Malley said elected officials and residents of Maryland were entrusted with the care of the state and MML leaders were relied upon to act on that trust.

“Our parents and grandparents didn’t give us a car, they gave us a country,” he said. “It’s not a thing to be traded in when the carburetor gets old or its engine starts to knock. She is something to be treasured, loved, strengthened and built up. It’s not about what other countries are doing to us, it’s about what we can and must do for ourselves.”

The governor said where Maryland heads from this point on will rely on the good choices made by the state’s elected officials at every level.

“Progress is a choice,” he said. “We can either make the tough choices necessary to invest in Maryland’s future, or we can be the first generation of Marylanders to give our children a lesser quality of life with fewer opportunities. The choice is ours.”