Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) pledged Thursday that the O’Malley administration would support “robust” spending on transportation and other infrastructure improvements during the legislative session that starts next week — but provided no new details about how the projects would be funded.
“Maryland’s infrastructure needs are critical, and they’re large,” Brown told a gathering of the Maryland Association of Counties in Cambridge, where he was pinch-hitting for Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).
O’Malley (D), whom an aide said had a personal commitment that kept him from the statewide group’s annual winter meeting, has floated possible increases in the state’s gas tax and so-called “flush tax” to pay for additional infrastructure projects.
In his remarks, Brown joked that he was under instructions not to talk about specific taxes, but he said the administration will seek significant investments in school construction, roads, bridges, mass transit and water and sewer projects — all in the name of job creation.
“Creating jobs is our number one priority,” he said.
Brown was also noncommitttal in brief comments about an ongoing controversy over whether the state should continue to pick up the entire cost of county teacher pensions. In the past, O’Malley has resisted such a shift — much to the delight of MACo leaders — but a move is strongly favored by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), among other legislative leaders.
The dinner also provided a glimpse at part of the potential 2014 gubernatorial field. Brown, who is gearing up to try to succeed O’Malley, used the bulk his remarks to tick off the administration’s accomplishments, including reduction of violent crime and expansion of subsidized health care.
Presiding over the dinner was the last official duty of outgoing MACo President Ken Ulman, the county executive of Howard County, and another Democrat eyeing a 2014 gubernatorial bid.
Ulman was replaced as MACo president Thursday night by Ingrid M. Turner, the former chairwoman of the Prince George’s County Council. Turner received a boisterous reception from fellow Prince George’s officials when Ulman first introduced her to the dinner crowd.
Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) are both expected to address the conference Friday.