O'Malley sets focus on state budget

December 06, 2006|By Jennifer Skalka | Jennifer Skalka,Sun reporter

Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley announced two expected additions to his State House team yesterday but said his attention is focused on shaping the next fiscal budget, given a projected $400 million shortfall.

O'Malley said his priorities include funding for open space and school construction, and stabilizing health care costs for small businesses. His team is working with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s staff to build his first budget.

"Shortly we'll make a determination as to how much we can get done in this first session," O'Malley, the Baltimore mayor, said during a brief press conference. "The work of this administration isn't going to get done in three or four months. That's why they give you four years."

O'Malley said he hopes to announce his budget secretary before the General Assembly session begins Jan. 10 - a critical task because of the unusual timetable in transition years.

The mayor will be inaugurated as governor a week after the session begins, on Jan. 17, and by law must submit a budget proposal to the General Assembly by Jan. 19. The state has sufficient reserves to cover the gap between revenues and expenditures for the budget year that begins July 1, 2007, but future budgets are projected to be more troublesome.

Other less crucial appointments could be postponed until after the three-month session, O'Malley said.

"We are primarily focused on doing everything we need to do in order to be prepared for this legislative session," said O'Malley, who was joined by Lt. Gov.-elect Anthony G. Brown.

As anticipated, O'Malley also said that Deputy Mayor Jeanne D. Hitchcock will be his appointments secretary, and Joseph Bryce, associate vice chancellor for government relations for the University System of Maryland, has signed on as O'Malley's senior policy and legislative adviser.

Brown presented his first three appointments yesterday as well: Chief of Staff Gerard "Jerry" Boden, Deputy Chief of Staff Earl Adams, Jr., and Director of Governmental Affairs Dawn Flythe.

Boden worked most recently as director of operations for Greater Maryland Dental Partners in Clarksville, according to a release issued by the transition team. Adams, a Prince George's County resident, is a lawyer with Shipley & Horne in Largo. Flythe worked on the O'Malley/Brown gubernatorial campaign.jennifer.skalka@baltsun.com

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