Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) made his final address to the General Assembly on Thursday, praising the lieutenant governor he had hoped would succeed him and reminding lawmakers that, regardless of party affiliation, “we are all in this together.”
O’Malley, who is deciding whether to make a presidential run, reminded lawmakers that over the past eight years Maryland had increased the number of people with health-care coverage, made college more affordable despite a difficult recession and held onto a better job-creation rate than neighboring Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The successes, he said, were a result of collaboration.
“We made a lot of tough choices,” O’Malley said. “Very often we disagreed, but at the end of the day, we found a way . . . to find consensus, to find common ground, to move forward and to deliver results for our people.”
The farewell speech was made as signs of next week’s inauguration became more evident across Annapolis. Two moving vans sat outside the governor’s mansion across from the State House, and movers scurried back and forth throughout the morning loading the O’Malley family’s belongings. By early afternoon, large Maryland and U.S. flags had been hung on the exterior of the State House facing Lawyer’s Mall, the backdrop for Wednesday’s swearing-in of Gov.-elect Larry Hogan (R).
Hogan, meanwhile, held a news conference to announce the hiring of more than a dozen staff members and the appointment of three Cabinet secretaries, including former Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley (R-Frederick) as the head of the Department of Budget and Management.
Brinkley, a member of Hogan’s transition team, spent 20 years in the Assembly but lost in last year’s primary to Michael J. Hough, a conservative tea-party-affiliated Republican who was sworn into office on Wednesday. Brinkley’s appointment is one of Hogan’s most anticipated, because the governor-elect’s primary initial focus will be setting a budget and addressing a $750 million deficit. Brinkley said he has been working on the budget for months.
Hogan also appointed Sam Maholtra as the secretary of human resources, Jennie Hunter-Cevera as acting secretary of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, Clay Stamp as director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and Luis Borunda as deputy secretary of state.
Hogan has yet to name a superintendent of the Maryland State Police. The current leader, Col. Marcus L. Brown, announced this week that he will soon become commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. Hogan said Wednesday that he is “very close” to naming Brown’s successor.
O’Malley, who was accompanied to the State House by his teenage son William, lavished praise during his remarks on Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who suffered a surprising and bruising defeat to Hogan in November.
The outgoing governor described Brown as smart, fearless and someone who is “all about getting things done.” His did not repeat the criticism of Brown’s gubernatorial campaign that he expressed last week to Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney. In that interview, O’Malley said the Brown campaign handed Hogan his victory by not defending the O’Malley administration’s record, especially on the economy.
In his own farewell address on Thursday, Brown, a former delegate who served eight years in the House, said he remains optimistic about the state’s future.
Like O’Malley, he emphasized bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle, just as Hogan and the state’s legislative leaders had done on Wednesday, the first day of the session.
“The challenges are many,” Brown said. “Progress is achievable so long as you find the common ground.”
The Assembly greeted Brown with a standing ovation. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) hugged Brown, while House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) smiled and nodded throughout the eight-minute address.
The outgoing lieutenant governor, who was accompanied by his wife, Karmen Walker, said the state’s greatest challenges are inequities in health care, education and affordable housing.
Brown, who was criticized during the campaign for being out of touch with the struggles of the working class, quoted an excerpt from an inaugural address of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging the country to care for those who have the least.
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little,” Brown said. He encouraged the lawmakers to remember those words as the session progresses.
Brown’s speech came hours before President Obama visited Baltimore to promote a plan to give workers more paid sick time. Maryland Working Families, a grass-roots organization, is pushing for similar changes, including a bill that would require businesses with 10 or more employees to allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
Del. Will Smith (D-Montgomery), one of 58 new legislators in the House, said he was inspired by the speeches from the departing politicians.
“It was what the freshmen needed to hear,” Smith said. “It gave hope for a positive outlook and moving forward in a bipartisan way.”
Jenna Johnson contributed to this report.