OPINION: Protecting Our Future

By Governor Martin O'Malley (D)

This week, I was honored to be invited to address the Center for American Progress, where I shared Maryland's commitment to investing in our priorities while restoring the principles of fiscal responsibility. While many states are dealing with budget shortfalls by carving into priorities like public safety, public education and health care, in Maryland we have made choices to restore accountability and move us forward at the same time.

When we in Maryland faced a crippling $1.7 billion structural deficit inherited from our predecessors, we asked our neighbors to embrace, once again, our shared responsibility to the next generation.

-- We implemented over $1.8 billion in budget cuts and spending reductions, and eliminated 700 government positions.

-- We eliminated nearly $20 million in overtime costs and recovered for our State more than $20 million in fraudulent Medicaid claims by applying performance-based management practices.

-- We closed the arcane, violent House of Corrections, which was morally the right thing to do, and it saved taxpayers $10 million.

-- And we passed a package of legislation that modernized our tax code, lowering the income tax rate for 90 percent of Marylanders, and increasing the State Earned Income Tax Credit for hard-working families and our middle class.

And through this series of reforms, we were able to reaffirm our commitment to protecting Maryland's shared priorities, including an investment in our State's infrastructure.

Earlier this week, I met with our partners on the federal level, appearing before a Senate Steering Committee where we engaged in an open dialogue on improving our national infrastructure. The responsibility for these investments does not fall solely on our local governments. We must, as a state and as a nation, make the type of commitment to our infrastructure that our parents and grandparents made for us. If we do, we can not only create millions of jobs in the process, but we can also reassert our global competitiveness and guarantee our place at the center of the 21st century economy.

The next generation to which we owe this commitment was the focus of another event I was proud to be a part of this week. I shared lunch with several wonderful student workers in Baltimore City, members of an innovative program called YouthWorks, which celebrated its most successful year placing young people into summer jobs. An overwhelming commitment by the State and the City of Baltimore, coupled by the partnerships of more than 240 Baltimore businesses, organizations, and government agencies, allowed over 6,500 Baltimore City high school and college students to be placed in summer jobs, creating stronger and safer neighborhoods in the process.

This commitment to our shared priorities combines the principles of fiscal responsibility with an unprecedented investment in the future of our One Maryland.

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