Maryland is known for putting on a good face even in hard times, but when the General Assembly, as he said Monday night, “failed to protect the priorities that allow our state to move forward,” his smile disappeared.
O’Malley appeared optimistic when speaking with reporters at around 8:30 p.m. on the last night of the 90-day legislative session, despite a looming midnight deadline for the legislature to pass key components of the state’s capital budget.
The same could not be said at 12:40 a.m. (See video for a comparison)
“This is not the sort of operating budget that this administration proposed after eight months of careful consideration, after $800 million in cuts and I think the people of our state have the right to expect more,” O’Malley told reporters.
Maryland lawmakers were forced to pass a “Doomsday” budget, which calls for more than $500 million in cuts by July 1, which include cuts to affordable tuition and education.
“O’Malley, however, did not heed appeals to call a special session that would allow the legislature to finish its work,” reports John Wagner for The Washington Post.
Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch agreed that a special session was needed to fix the damage caused by an anti-climatic ending to the General Assembly, according to The Baltimore Sun.
MarylandReporter.com publisher Len Lazarick wrote:
“O’Malley and House Speaker Michael Busch both blamed Senate President Mike Miller’s insistence on a gaming measure for Prince George’s County for holding up action. But others, including delegates and senators on the conference committee, said the hard philosophical positions on both sides played a role.”
O’Malley chastised lawmakers for their ineffectiveness, allowing personal pet project bills to trump the state's greater needs.
“I’m not saying that each of us doesn’t come in here with our own issues or causes to advance. I was disappointed we weren’t able to get wind done. But you know what, I didn’t announce that I wasn’t going to sign any other legislation until wind gets done,” O’Malley said.
“I was disappointed we weren’t able to pass some other issues that this administration put forward but that doesn’t mean we’re going to issue ultimatums or say that we’re not going to sign any other bills or do any other work on the peoples’ priorities. That’s not a luxury that we have here,” he continued.