A week after the Wall Street Journal's editorial page pummeled the governor's budget, the New York Times took the opposite view, opining that it took "political courage" to push for an increase in the gas tax and praising O'Malley for bucking the "no-new-taxes delusions."
Michael Ettlinger, vice president for economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress in Washington, says voters "think there should be a balanced solution" to budget problems.
"There is a pretty good recognition that there needs to be more revenues," he said.
The challenge for politicians such as O'Malley is to sell voters on the benefits those revenues buy. That means he'll continue to talk about Maryland's top-ranked public schools, the slow growth of tuition at the state's public universities, the state's AAA bond rating and falling crime.
"I've always thought the resistance to taxes is really about government performance," Ettlinger said. "What bothers people is that the money is not being well spent."
O'Malley is hardly the first governor to look to the income tax for more revenue in recent years. The Democratic governors of Illinois and Connecticut raised taxes on earnings last year. Increases to sales and income taxes in California, also governed by a Democrat, are set go to the voters in November.
Cuomo, in New York, took a nuanced approach: He renewed a tax set to expire on those making over $250,000, but slightly lowered the rate.
Lee M. Miringoff, the director of Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, said that raising taxes on the wealthy is easier to sell to the public than a broad based increase.
"If you want to go down that road politically, you certainly want to be talking about higher income levels because those do poll differently," he said.
Will voters consider couples that earn more than $150,000 wealthy?
Definitely not, says Joseph Henchman, the vice president for legal and state projects of the national Tax Foundation. He said O'Malley has expanded the definition of "the well off" beyond most other governors.
He noted that O'Malley was among the first governors to enact a tax on millionaires in 2008. After Maryland put it in place, ten other states followed suit, Henchman said.
But Henchman said momentum for such taxes peaked in 2010, when referendum voters in moderate Washington state soundly defeated a proposal for a millionaires tax.
"I think it is because people recognize that, though it starts as a high earners income tax, it gradually hits more and more people," Henchman said.
Since then, states including Maryland have allowed those taxes to expire.