Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley testified before two legislative committees Thursday, seeking to draw attention to some of the least controversial measures he is backing this year, but some he also said could have the biggest benefits for job growth.
O’Malley (D) urged passage of a bill designed to make it easier for veterans to get state licenses and other credentials to reenter the civilian workforce.
“If you can drive a giant convoy through the Khyber Pass or over the border from Pakistan, surely you can operate an 18-wheeler on I-95,” O’Malley told a group of business leaders before the testimony.” We want to streamline those common-sense licensures, he said, adding that he felt the same way about military medics.
O’Malley also testified in favor of a bill that would create competitive grants for training programs between businesses, local governments and nonprofit groups. His budget would allocate $2.5 million for the program.
Before the testimony, the governor traveled to the offices of a federal contractor in Annapolis to accept a final report from a board he created to study how Maryland could be doing a better job of harnessing its connections to Washington to spur job growth.
Maryland houses 70 federal agencies, accounting for some 800,000 jobs and $26 billion in federal contracting, according to O’Malley’s Federal Facilities Advisory Board.
Despite federal budget cuts that loom next month under the so-called sequester, O’Malley said it would be foolhardy not to continue to capitalize on the state’s proximity to the federal government. He pointed specifically to the state’s role in housing the new U.S. Cyber Command which is only expanding.
“So long as we are a nation, we will be next to the nation’s capital,” O’Malley said. “It’s impossible to have a rational economic strategy that ignores the location of these national facilities.
“Even if you look at the Defense Department budget and where cuts are planned, and you look at where increased investments are, you see the increased investments in cyber …we absolutely want to be part of that,” he added.