Governor O’Malley on WTOP

Here are some highlights from yesterday “Ask The Governor” with Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on WTOP (103.5FM).

On MVA Services:
O’Malley says that there are a number of things they work to improve upon every day and that they measure performance as part of their stat process. He said that the agency is better now than it was from when he first started driving, it can be better. He also adds that the hiccup is being more vigilant against individuals who attempt to obtain licenses fraudulently. It should be noted that the caller said his girlfriend is having a hard time getting a Maryland license after moving out of DC, adding that they had trouble trying to get a supervisors name.

On school construction in a particular county (county was not specified):
For four years, O’Malley describing a conversation with a gentleman who said that he moved to this particular area because of the schools and now his third grader will have to learn in a trailer. O’Malley told this constituent that in the particular county he lives in, the state stopped investing…he corrected himself and said “greatly reduced” the pace of investment he said the state should have been making. He compared it to the two years of his administration in which he claimed over $700 million was invested as opposed to over $200 million under his predecessor, Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R). That’s right folks, making it’s first appearance in 2008 (or is it second appearance,) O’Malley has blamed Ehlrich for having this kid learn in a trailer. “Because the investments weren’t made six years ago, children who are now in third grade did not have the benefit of the investments we should have been making six years ago.” Now the pious part, “I can’t change that, but I can in the trust I’ve been given try to change that for the future.”

Responding to Montgomery County legislators who said Gov. O’Malley stiffed them on $9 million for school construction:
“I’m one person in the government, there’s also a speaker of the house, there’s also a senate president and we also had a national downturn during the interim where [Montgomery] Sen. [Rona] Kramer was part of that special session…I had hoped and I had told them that we wanted to come up to $55 million for Montgomery County…this year [they] received the largest allocation, about $5 million more than any other county in that $46 million they received for school construction. If you lok at the two year period, it is $98 million [invested] in school construction [for the] county. BLAMING EHRLICH AGAIN: “If you contrast that to the first two years of our predecessor it was $19 million that the Ehrlich-Steele administration invested in Montgomery County…” PIETY: “I’m glad to serve an ambitious people. I think our representatives should be ambitious and be urgent about the needs there.”

On the Hilltop affair:
O’Malley said that the facts laid out by WTOP Reporter Mark Seagraves (although Seagraves was simply summing up the story in The Washington Post) were “roughly accurate.” PIETY: “Every legislative session there are thousands of issues big and small that senators and delegates bring to us and we try to bring them to a fair and reasonable resolution within the law.” O’Malley goes on to say that when Prince George’s Senator Nathaniel Exum (D-Dist. 24) brought the issue to his office, they asked State Police Superintendent Col. Terrence Sheridan to take a look at the case and “we did in fact ask him to take a second look at it.” The second look was request according to the Governor when “the facts that he received internally didn’t seem to square with some other things that was being shared by the company in question.” O’Malley said that the solution Sheridan came up with was “fair and resonable and within the law.” When pressed by Seagraves about the decision being a matter of public safety, O’Malley said that this will put Hilltop Fleet Services in Capital Heights “high on the radar screen.” He called the situation an anomaly because there was no set period of revocation for the garage.

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More comparisons from four years ago:
“Four years ago, we would wipe out dollars for open space for the purchase of open space. We would wipe out things like the transportation trust fund and pour it into the general fund and as a result, we didn’t keep pace with the infrastructure, we didn’t keep pace with the schools we didn’t keep pace with a lot of things. We are trying to restore fiscal responsibility so we do not raid the transportation trust fund.”

PIETY: “That’s a principle we are committed to. It’s hard because it’s very unpopular to raise any revenue item even for a worthy cause like alleviating congestion and catching up with our transportation back log. But we are going to do it and were going to trust in the long term people understand what those trust funds are for and why they are important.”

PLOTKIN TIME!!! The part of the show where WTOP Political Analyst Mark Plotkin joined in on the fun.

On his popularity or lack there of:
O’Malley attributed is popularity ranking just above “Glendening Territory” due to the fact that he raised taxes. But then he said it was a little more complicated than that simple answer. BLAME EHRLICH TIME AGAIN: “We were left a $1.7 billion deficit by our predecessor that red ink came crashing on us. We had to make a lot of cuts and we also had to push a lot of unpopular measures and nobody ever stands up and applauds. However even after doing that, 40 percent of the public did approve…” PIETY: “Mark, what I try to do is make the right decision based on what’s in the best long term interest of the people I serve and I trust over time they figure out that’s the way I am making decisions.”

It should also be noted when Plotkin asked Gov. O’Malley about 2010: “I don’t think about 2010 too much.”

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