This story has been updated.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said Thursday that he is willing to call the legislature back into a special session “a half-hour from now” if leaders can reach consensus over the issues that led to Monday night’s collapse of a tax package.
“We can do it as soon as we have a consensus,” O’Malley said during a television interview on WTTG, the Fox affiliate in the Washington. “Is that tomorrow? Is that late August? That is something that the presiding officers and their members and I need to figure out.”
If not resolved by July 1, the impasse will trigger more than $500 million in cuts to education and other programs. Legislative leaders have said they expect to hold a special session before that deadline — though O’Malley remained mum about the prospect during a bill signing ceremony on Tuesday.
During Thursday’s TV interview, O’Malley largely blamed the “gridlock” over a tax package on “fixed and firm” views on separate legislation about whether Maryland should add a sixth gambling site, in Prince George’s County.
“Frankly, I think there are far more important issues, like public education and public safety,” the governor said.
While some have suggested O’Malley should have done more to avert Monday’s collapse, he continued to blame the legislature.
As he did at the bill signing ceremony Tuesday, O’Malley highlighted gains the state has made in education and public safety, which he said are threatened by the legislature’s inaction.
“By this failure to act this year in the legislature, we undermined all of those priorities,” O’Malley said.
The WTTG interview was the first in a string of Washington media appearances scheduled Thursday for O’Malley. He also plans to appear on WTOP and WAMU radio.
The governor also confirmed on WTTG plans to drop by the Washington Nationals home opener this afternoon.
Update, 10:30 a.m.: During his appearance on WTOP radio, O’Malley accepted some responsibility for Monday’s collapse in the legislature of a revenue package.
“Sure, we all hold blame,” O’Malley said during his second interview Thursday morning in the Washington media market. “I certainly share that responsibility.”
O’Malley, however, said he agreed with a Post editorial on Thursday that gambling legislation “became the cart that was driving the horse” on Monday.
“That’s sadly what happened,” O’Malley said, saying the bill was in the mix at the insistence of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert).
Asked if transportation funding could be taken up in a special session, O’Malley said: “I don’t know. ... Whether we have the ability to do that now is hard to say.”
O’Malley said the gambling debate “crowded out any substantive discussions on what to do on transportation.”