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O’Malley: GOP Lives in ‘Wonderland’

February 19, 2011

By Erica Terrini
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Republican governors are living in “Wonderland,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley told about 1,400 fellow Democrats at Virginia’s 2011 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Saturday night.

O’Malley, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said Republicans have shirked their responsibilities while Democrats have made hard decisions about balancing budgets and providing government services.

“Democratic governors are balancing budgets, making the tough choices and moving forward all at the same time,” O’Malley said at the dinner, an annual fundraiser for the Democratic Party of Virginia. He cited Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, the two Democrats who preceded Republican Bob McDonnell as governor.

Warner and Kaine “wanted Virginia and Virginia’s children to be winners in this changing new economy,” O’Malley said.

But he said governors affiliated with the Republican Party and the tea party movement “live in a different world than ours.”

“The Republican governors’ tea party is more Mad Hatter than James Madison,” O’Malley said. “They would have us believe we can somehow eat cake and lose weight. They would have us believe that we can somehow just cut our way to a better future – no need to invest in education or rebuild our infrastructure.”

O’Malley gave the keynote address at the dinner after a series of Democrats criticized McDonnell and Virginia’s Republican legislators. The Democrats said the Republicans have focused on transportation funding at the expense of public education, criminal justice and other public services in the state.

Similarly, O’Malley accused Republicans in the U.S. Congress of proposing federal budget cuts that he said “would have taken 3,000 cops off the beat and 2,300 firefighters out of our nation’s firehouses.”

O’Malley, who was elected governor of Maryland in 2006 and re-elected last year, praised Democratic U.S. Reps. Jim Moran, Bobby Scott and Gerry Connolly of Virginia, saying they “helped win the fight” against such budget cuts.

Echoing President Barack Obama, O’Malley said the United States must invest in education and other areas to gain economic strength and compete in the global economy.

“Our country is in a fight; it is a fight for our economic future,” O’Malley said. “It’s a battle for jobs and opportunity in a changing new economy. And the choices we make today – the choices we make as a people right now – will determine what type of future our children will have.”

Thirty years ago, he said, America ranked first in high school graduation rates and college completion among its global competitors. Today, the U.S. ranks 11th in high school graduation and 12th in college completion, O’Malley said.

“As a nation, we now spend more on potato chips than we invest through our government into energy research and development,” O’Malley said. “These trends won’t reverse themselves by themselves; we cannot expect other nations to stop their job-creating progress just because we have decided to slow down.”

In today’s economy, O’Malley said, “Innovation is key.” He said governments must boost education and work-force training, keep college affordable and offer tax credits for “green” technology, bio-technology, aerospace, trade and other emerging fields.

As Chesapeake Bay neighbors, Maryland and Virginia “can lead the way forward,” said O’Malley, the former mayor of Baltimore.

“Marylanders and Virginians are working together in labs, classrooms and businesses to advance new technologies, cures, treatments and sciences that are remaking our world and revolutionizing the way we ‘feed, fuel and heal’ our world.”

O’Malley said that combined, Virginia and Maryland house more than 70 federal research labs and attract more research and development investment than any other region in the U.S.

“Our people are some of the most highly educated and skilled anywhere in America, with more Ph.D. scientists and engineers per capita than any place in our America,” O’Malley said. “We are well equipped for greatness.”

Here is the full text full text of O’Malley’s speech.