Governor Pleads State's Case to President-Elect Obama


ANNAPOLIS (Dec. 2, 2008)—Gov. Martin O'Malley and other governors met with President-elect Barack Obama Tuesday, pushing for a stimulus plan that would help pay for infrastructure projects and social programs such as unemployment benefits and food stamps.

O'Malley was joined by the other 49 governors and the leaders of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands at the meeting in Philadelphia. The governors met with Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden for an hour and a half.

Maryland was not specifically discussed Tuesday, O'Malley said in a phone interview, but Obama asked the governors to help him craft an economic recovery plan.

O'Malley said no price tag was attached.

"There was a general agreement that it needed to be big if it were going to be impactful," he said, as he rode in a car to a meeting in Washington.

O'Malley said he told Obama about the state's pending $1 billion budget shortfall and other economic problems Monday night at a meeting of Democratic governors. O'Malley would not say whether Obama made any commitments to help the state.

Maryland, among many other states, could benefit from a stimulus package. The state's unemployment rate of 5 percent is at the highest level in more than a decade, and in October, the Board of Public Works, citing the country's soured economy, cut nearly $350 million from this year's budget, affecting schools, museums and a slew of other programs.

The downturn has crimped consumer spending and caused widespread layoffs, leading to, among other problems, a drop in sales and income tax receipts. This money is used to help pay for a range of government operations and services.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington-based research group, at least 41 states face budget shortfalls this fiscal year or next.

O'Malley noted the comments Obama made on television Tuesday afternoon, when he said he wants to save or create 2.5 million jobs nationwide, and improve the country's infrastructure.

"He understands that when the economy takes a downturn, the responsibilities at the state level go up," O'Malley said, referring to the rise in health and unemployment claims that normally come with a downturn.


PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (December 2, 2008) – Governor Martin O’Malley issued the following statement today following the Governors-only meeting with President-Elect Barack Obama and Vice President-Elect Joe Biden at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Governor O’Malley joined with governors from across the nation and called for a better partnership between states and the Federal government to address the economy, healthcare, public safety and education.

“Working together with the Obama-Biden Administration and our federal partners, it is my hope that we can ease the impact that the national economy is having on state services, such as Medicaid and special education, improve public safety in our communities, and rebuild our infrastructure.

“I applaud President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden for gathering the nation’s Governors so soon in the transition process, illustrating their support for an ongoing dialogue with the states during this time of national uncertainty. Our nation and our states face significant challenges with regard to an ailing national economy and foreclosure crisis, but just as our challenges are great, so too are the opportunities that can come from a renewed, more effective partnership between the states and our Federal government.

“Many states have seen their budgets crippled by the downturn in the national economy, forcing them to cut critical programs and services at a time when our middle class and working families need them the most.

“It is also my hope that a second stimulus package designed to invest in our nation's infrastructure and a sustainable green economy can help us create jobs in America and will ensure a legacy of strong roads, bridges, tunnels and mass transit that we leave to our children.”

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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