COLLEGE PARK – Sen. David Brinkley, R-Frederick, delivered a blunt, 9-minute speech Thursday that was fueled with contradictions of Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s final State of the State address.
Brinkley began by alluding to the governor’s political aspirations and pointing out mishaps from O’Malley’s gubernatorial tenure.
“He is very proud of his accomplishments, as he considers a run for president of the United States in 2 years,” said Brinkley. “But there have been consequences to the policies established these past 8 years.”
He added that he would address the “reality of what Maryland families and communities are facing.”
One of the issues Brinkley criticized was the rollout of the Maryland health care insurance exchange, part of what critics call ‘Obamacare.’
Brinkley said that O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown had hoped their “crowning achievement” would be the implementation of this program, but that it ultimately ended up being “the model of governmental and bureaucratic malpractice.”
Brinkley called the initiative a “failure” and said that instead of the state becoming the model of successful implementation of health reform, O’Malley and Brown allowed Maryland to become the model for “how not to do this.”
Brown, the administration’s point-person on health care reform, is running for governor.
Brinkley said that at a legislative hearing last week, Brown was given the opportunity to apologize to Marylanders for the troubled exchange website, but “just couldn’t let those words pass his lips.”
Brinkley apologized to Marylanders Thursday, but emphasized that he never supported the measure.
“Even though I didn’t vote for the health exchange two years ago, I do believe the public expects the government to fulfill its promise, it obviously didn’t and for that and on behalf of the state, I apologize to the families harmed in this rollout.” Brinkley said.
Brinkley also took issue with many of the economic statistics O’Malley cited.
Brinkley said that while the governor “touts” that he reduced spending by $9 billion, eight years ago, his initial budget was more than $29.5 billion and that his final budget submitted last week is nearly $39.5 billion.
“Now, maybe it’s my public school math, but that’s an increase of $10 billion dollars, not a reduction as the governor claims,” Brinkley said. “It is an increase of nearly 33 percent, over their two terms.”
He reminded taxpayers that “tax money is your money,” and said that O’Malley’s “true legacy” — which Brown will have to defend during his campaign for governor — is the tax increases that took place during their administration.
Among the taxes he listed were a 20 percent increase in sales tax, an increase in gas taxes, increased income taxes, higher tolls and vehicle registration costs. He also mentioned the stormwater fees, which critics have dubbed the ‘rain tax.’
Brinkley warned that people are relocating to the “greener pastures of lower taxes in Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas and Florida.”
Brinkley also criticized O’Malley’s push to increase the minimum wage in Maryland. Brinkley said it could eliminate jobs as companies seek to hire fewer people and look to automate.
He concluded with an appeal to the next governor to seize the opportunity to create jobs and lighten the load on Maryland employers.