The Washington Post

In final State of the State speech, O’Malley to reflect on tenure, pitch minimum-wage hike

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) will use his final State of the State address to reflect upon progress made over the past seven years and to make the case for his top remaining legislative priority, an increase in the minimum wage, a senior aide said.

O’Malley is scheduled to address a joint session of the Maryland General Assembly at noon on Thursday in Annapolis.

Much of the speech will be devoted to achievements during difficult fiscal times and the goal-driven system of governing O’Malley has utilized since taking office in 2007, the aide said. He requested anonymity to speak more freely about the governor’s plans.

While governors typically use such addresses to advocate for a laundry list of initiatives, O’Malley will focus heavily on the case for raising the state’s $7.25-an-hour minimum wage, the aide said.

This week, O’Malley introduced legislation that would raise Maryland’s minimum to $10.10 an hour by 2016 and peg future increases to inflation.

While there is broad support among Democrats in the legislature for an increase, lawmakers have yet to coalesce around a specific proposal.

Republicans have been critical of a series of tax increases enacted during O’Malley’s tenure. But the governor will argue, his aide said, that his “balanced” approach to the budget has enabled the state to invest in education and other priorities during a stretch when other states have made deeper cuts to core services.

O’Malley, who is term-limited and must step down in January 2015, is weighing a 2016 presidential bid.

His agenda for this legislative session is not as ambitious as in recent years. During the past two years alone, lawmakers have legalized same-sex marriage, repealed the death penalty, passed one of the most far-reaching gun-control measures in the country and raised the gas tax to pay for additional transportion projects.

O’Malley’s eighth and final State of the State address will be broadcast live on Maryland Public Television.

Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley (R-Frederick) is scheduled to give the Republican response.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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