February 2, 2010

Analysis: GOP responds to State of the State before it’s given

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Gov. Martin O’Malley doesn’t give the traditional State of the State address until noon Tuesday, but that hasn’t deterred the GOP from responding to what party leaders think he’s going to say.

Republican Larry Hogan, who officially stopped exploring his race for governor on Monday in an effort to push former Gov. Bob Ehrlich into the race, weighed in last Wednesday, when O’Malley had originally scheduled his speech. Hogan tied the high rate of unemployment to high tax rates increased by O’Malley, coupled with unresolved deficits.

Then the Senate Republican Caucus sent out an e-mail Sunday:

“During the State-of-the-State address this Tuesday, expect Governor Martin O’Malley to repeatedly state that Maryland is ‘better off’ than other states. It is true that most economists believe that the proximity to the federal government and the infusion of federal agency spending props up Maryland’s economy. But the federal largess masks the troubling joblessness undercurrent in Maryland’s private sector.”

The culprit, says the GOP: “O’Malley’s anti-business policies over the last three years have dropped Maryland from the 25th most business friendly state to the 45th most business unfriendly state. The obvious solution is to repeal the high taxation enacted by O’Malley, reverse over burdensome regulations and incentivize small business growth in the state.”

This is the GOP theme for the November election. While O’Malley talks of “jobs, jobs, jobs,” Republicans are accusing him of delaying action and plotting tax increases for next year, something he denies.

The most biting press release from the GOP senators came Monday night: “How appropriate that Governor Martin O’Malley chose Groundhog Day for his fourth State-of-the-State address.

“Maryland citizens must feel like they live in a perpetual budget Groundhog Day under Governor O’Malley. For the fourth year in a row, Governor O’Malley introduced a budget plan that papers over deep deficit spending by one-time transfers, fund swaps and ‘found money.’”

The State of the State speech is a response to Article II, Section 19 in the Maryland Constitution.  “[The governor] shall, from time to time, inform the Legislature of the condition of the State and recommend to their consideration such measures as he may judge necessary and expedient.”

Only problem is that the governor is now required to submit his budget and his legislative agenda before he gives the State of the State address. Having laid out his spending priorities and the new laws he wants passed, it is difficult to make news in the State of the State address. Maryland Public TV will carry it live and again at 7 p.m.

There’s little need to listen to the Republican response delivered by Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman right afterward. You’ve just read the GOP response to a speech not yet delivered.

–Len Lazarick