Imagine a handsome, personable guy with a smile that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside. He's smart and friendly and used to getting his own way. And one more thing: he moves fast.
These aren't the qualities concerned parents want to see in their teenage daughter's boyfriend. But they are absolutely par for the course when that guy is Maryland's governor.
The state Constitution doesn't give newly installed governors the chance to settle into their jobs. The day after he was sworn in, Martin O'Malley's administration released its FY08 budget, revealing fiscally-sensitive priorities that was widely hailed as a centrist agenda. He's spent the past three weeks scrambling to fill the 21 cabinet posts under his discretion. And Wednesday, with less than a month of statewide governing under this belt, O'Malley gave the annual State of the State address.
We'll calm your fears right away and let you in on the good news: the state of the state is strong.
Not for the efforts of the previous administration, O'M was quick to point out. He assessed the state as strong "despite" the "recent drift in recent years," a not-so-subtle bash on former Gov. Ehrlich. He also noted that "we're not as strong as we should be." But he gave an optimistic outlook, predicting commodity would descend on Annapolis in the wake of Democratic hegemony's return, resulting in an atmosphere more conducive to making good public policy.
The speech itself, which lasted just under half an hour, was a well-balanced address that laid out a moderate agenda for the state. The speech stated a number of goals that O'Malley argued for during the campaign and are summed up nicely in the following excerpt about what time it is:
Time to improve public education at all levels. Time to simultaneously improve public safety and homeland security. Time to extend health care coverage to more hardworking Marylanders. Time to conserve, protect and improve the environmental health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Time to strengthen women- and minority-owned businesses in our state, where our diversity is our strength. Time to advance and realize a statewide vision for transportation that includes mass transit, as well as roads. Time to stand up again to powerful wealthy special interests whenever they try to profiteer on the backs of the working people of our State.
For those who can't read in bullet points, O'Malley's priorities are public education, public safety, health care, the environment, diversity, transportation and the middle class. Not exactly earth-shatteringly new ideas, but good values that O'Malley has backed up with common-sense, pragmatic policy proposals to implement.