- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley’s new jobs-creation package ranges from ordering top-ranking agency officials to review regulations to asking Marylanders for their input on making the state more business-friendly - and he’s already gotten an earful.

At least 183 people have posted suggestions to a state website since Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, made the request last week.

Many of the comments detail how posters became tangled in red tape while trying to start a business or apply for a job. Others offered more wide-ranging complaints about what they considered general inefficiencies in state government - such as underperforming employees, overspending and overuse of written communication rather than email.

Some railed against tax and toll increases, including a possible gas-tax hike that the governor and General Assembly could consider next year.

A poster who identified herself as Kirsty said she had to file extensive paperwork to start a business in Maryland and paid an expediting fee in hopes that the process wouldn’t take several months.

“The hassle of starting a business in Maryland is ridiculous,” she said. “I filed in Indiana and didn’t have to pay additional fees.”

The governor made the request for input upon announcing an executive order Oct. 17 that requires state agencies to review their regulations for change or elimination over a 60-day period.

Mr. O'Malley said the order was an important first step toward developing a jobs package for next year’s assembly session that starts in January.

“Some of the best ideas we use in state government have come from Marylanders writing and calling in,” O'Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory wrote Wednesday in a blog post. “We know that the more comments we get, the better the results.”

Other respondents suggested that the state consolidate many of the services within agencies and pool resources more efficiently.

“With police agencies alone there are seven or eight separate state agencies that each have a separate human resource, payroll, media relations, supplies, vehicle maintenance, training and upper management. All with little interagency communication or information sharing,” said a poster named Keith, whose suggestion prompted two other posters to agree.

The governor’s office has also replied to some suggestions, occasionally thanking posters for suggestions or offering additional information.

When one poster lamented about how the state has programs in place to help minority business-owners but not veteran business-owners, a response from “Governor Martin O'Malley” said the assembly passed a bill in 2010 setting guidelines that Maryland award 0.5 percent of its procurement contracts to veterans.

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