- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) — Mayor Martin O’Malley’s wish list for state money next year includes requests for increased funding for such big-ticket items as school construction, economic and community development, job creation, drug treatment and social services.

Mr. O’Malley is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor and hopes to run against Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, in the November election.

“We do quite well in a divided government in terms of having a Republican administration,” said state Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, a Democrat and the head of Baltimore’s Senate delegation, who will push for the mayor’s priorities when the General Assembly convenes next month. “The governor and his budget people have been responsive to the needs of [Baltimore] citizens — politics aside.”

Mr. McFadden and Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, also a Baltimore Democrat, said they expect things to go well for city requests in Mr. Ehrlich’s budget next year, regardless of the pending elections.

“Elections are one thing, and governing is another thing,” Mr. McFadden said. “After [the General Assembly’s last day], that’s when the gloves come off. That’s when the elections start.”

Until then, Miss Marriott said, the city’s delegation works closely with Mr. O’Malley, Deputy Mayor Jeanne Hitchcock and Mr. Ehrlich’s budget officials to meet the city’s needs.

“We have been fairly successful in getting the things we want,” Miss Marriott said. “We never get all that we ask for.”

Mr. O’Malley’s Nov. 18 letter to Mr. Ehrlich, which the mayor’s office released recently, lists several policy priorities that require state support.

The mayor requested $100 million for schools to help pay for such capital needs as roof and boiler replacements and new windows.

For economic development projects on the city’s east and west sides of downtown, Mr. O’Malley is asking for a total of $14 million.

To help spur job creation, the mayor wants $2 million for summer employment for 2,000 teens, $3 million for job training and placement assistance for high school dropouts that also would save a federally funded program set to expire in June, and $500,000 to help 1,800 former inmates find work.

The mayor also asked the state to budget $52.7 million over several years for community development projects that will pay for the acquisition and demolition of real estate.

Miss Hitchcock said drug treatment remains one of the mayor’s top priorities and that he is seeking $5 million more deom the state for residential services, for parents with children in foster care and for former inmates.

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