Gov. Martin O'Malleyformally accepted more than 1,000 pages of reports yesterday, filling two large binders, from 21 groups established after his election to help with his transition.
Although none of the scores of recommendations are binding, they offer a glimpse of the direction the fledgling administration might be headed on a number of key issues, including transportation funding.
A group that reviewed the state's transportation needs suggested that O'Malley (D) consider proposing a gas tax increase and other measures to boost funding for road and mass transit projects.
Other options include raising the state sales tax and dedicating the proceeds to transportation and allocating a larger share of the state's corporate income tax revenue to transportation.
O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzesesaid the governor is aware of the state's looming transportation needs but has taken no position on the revenue ideas. "Right now, these are simply recommendations that will be reviewed by the administration," Abbruzzese said.
Some Washington area leaders urged O'Malley to propose a gas tax increase this year, a move he resisted.
The reports were compiled by groups of private residents, some with former government experience, who donated their time.
Their reports are also intended to assess the status of state departments and services. In several cases, the picture presented was not pretty.
That was the case with the Department of Human Resources, for example, whose services include food stamps, child support and foster care.
"Not too long ago, Maryland was a national leader in human services," according to the report. "DHR was an innovator, developing and executing new ideas and strategies, ideas that were emulated by other states. That time is no more."
-- John WagnerThe Picture of (No) Decorum Over RipkenCal Ripkenwas honored yesterday in Annapolis as "one of Maryland's great sons" during festivities that included a luncheon with lawmakers and an afternoon presentation with Gov. Martin O'Malley. Ripken, who retired in October 2001 after 21 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame last month. He will be inducted in July.
Many starry-eyed lawmakers greeted the Iron Man in a reception line at the Governor Calvert House.
Del. Benjamin S. Barnes(D-Prince George's) looked like a 12-year-old as he eagerly stood in line for Ripken to sign a picture of the ballplayer taken during a game that he keeps on the bookshelf in his office.
"This is my boyhood hero," Barnes, 31, said. "He represents the values of consistency, showing up to work every day. We need more people like him."
Del. Tom Hucker(D-Montgomery), who has a shaved head like Ripken's, decided to just get a picture with him. "I have heard people tell me that I look like him for years, so I figured I should get a picture with him," Hucker said.
Nearly every senator wanted to claim Ripken as a constituent.
When some of the senators from Harford County -- where he grew up -- joined the Hall of Famer for a picture on the Senate floor, a senator from Baltimore County -- where Ripken lives -- sneaked into the shot.
Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden(D-Baltimore City) jumped out of his seat in protest.
"Wait a second, he played in the great city of Baltimore," McFadden joked. "Shouldn't we have someone up there?"
That led Senate President Thomas Mike V. Miller Jr.(D-Calvert) to dismiss the senators aisle by aisle to take pictures with Ripken in the Senate lounge.
The governor joined the celebration later. "I know that the House and Senate honored Cal Ripken, and I wanted to be able to do the same thing," O'Malley said before presenting a proclamation.
"As always, I get a whole lot more attention than I actually deserve," Ripken responded.
-- Ovetta Wiggins