- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It’s on, apparently, between the Maryland Democratic Party and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

David Sloan, executive director of the party, wrote a scathing memo Tuesday entitled “A Budget of Choices,” noting that in crafting Maryland’s budget, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley “has chosen to protect record investments in public education, affordable college and Maryland’s innovation economy even in the toughest of times.”

Mr. O'Malley has rolled out a bevy of proposed tax increases to help close a $1.1 billion budget gap, including a phased-in 6 percent sales tax on gas — higher even than the recommendations of his Blue-Ribbon Commission — as well as new taxes on Internet sales and cigars, for example.

Mr. Sloan goes on to say Maryland created 30,300 new jobs last year, most of them in the private sector, and at almost two and a half times the rate of Virginia. Since Mr. McDonnell’s first full month in office, February 2010, Virginia has created 1,900 more new jobs than Maryland and currently boasts an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, compared to Maryland’s 6.7 percent.

“While our neighbors in Virginia begin considering a new two-year budget, they too will have to take a hard look at the consequences of Governor McDonnell’s choices for children and families throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he wrote.

Mr. Sloan said Mr. McDonnell’s proposed budget spends about $7 billion more than his Democratic predecessor, cuts $450,000 in healthcare for Virginia’s children, and contains $520 million less for hospitals. He said Mr. McDonnell’s attempts to address the state’s underfunded public pension system will require diverting money from other priorities.

“But there are no easy choices that can fix these problems,” Mr. Sloan wrote. “And there are certainly no easy choices that would satisfy the tea party elements of his Republican Party to help him win the #2 spot on Mitt Romney’s 2012 ticket.”

Mr. Sloan suggested that perhaps Mr. McDonnell could convince Mr. Romney to “buy the naming rights to the Virginia side of the new ‘Mitt Romney Woodrow Wilson Bridge,’” referring to the portion of Mr. McDonnell’s transportation plan that would sell the naming rights to state roads and bridges.

The criticism comes after Mr. McDonnell and Mr. O'Malley briefly sparred on CNN’s “State of the Union” talk show Sunday and as speculation abounds about the Virginia governor being a potential presidential running mate.

Still, Mr. McDonnell can boast several major wins in head-to-head match-ups with Maryland in luring companies to Virginia, recently welcoming Northrop Grumman, Bechtel, and Acentia to the state.

The Virginia governor’s spokesman, J. Tucker Martin, shrugged off the memo.

“My advice to Maryland Democrats: deep breaths,” he said. “Well, at least until your Governor tries to tax those too.”



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