Governor Martin O’Malley said he would not call the General Assembly for a special session to rework the “doomsday” budget until legislators agree on a plan to fix it.
The governor’s press secretary said Wednesday that O’Malley sees no point in calling a special session at taxpayer expense unless the General Assembly has an agreement on how to avoid more than $500 million in cuts that are scheduled to take effect July 1, according to The Baltimore Sun.
This “doomsday” budget was passed into law when the legislative session ended on Monday. State lawmakers failed to pass an income tax measure and a measure to shift part of the cost of teacher pensions to county governments. Legislators instead relied on severe budget cuts to education and other program in order to balance the budget.
* D.C. public school officials have $10 million worth of grant money that they are awarding to principals who have ideas on how to improve students’ test scores through non-traditional means.
According to The Washington Examiner, the “Proving What’s Possible” grants provide up to $400,000 for schools that need to make dramatic improvements in overall student performance. Principals can alternatively apply for up to $100,000 to focus on a specific need, such English language learners.
Proposals are due May 17 and the winners will be announced by June 1.
This program follows Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2013 budget proposal that would increase class sizes and cut more than 200 special education coordinators.
* Prince William County became the largest local jurisdiction in the country to be exempt from a federal law mandating that the Justice Department approve local proposals to change voting procedures or redistricting maps.
The federal law is intended to protect minority voters at the polls.
The Department of Justice granted the bailout on Wednesday after Prince William County demonstrated 10 years of unbiased voting practices, according to The Washington Times.
Officials have complained that getting approval for even the most trivial of things costs time and money. Prince William, for example, had to get federal permission to close the county registrar’s office for a day so renovations could be done, the Times reports.
“This shows how far we have come in the past 45 years,” he said. “We protect the voting rights of all U.S. citizens regardless of race, religious preference or ethnicity. And this demonstrates our commitment to those essential rights of our citizens.”
* Sen. Marker Warner has been crisscrossing the state campaigning for his fellow fellow former governor Tim Kaine, who is running for a Virginia U.S. Senate seat.
Roll Call reports that the Virginia Democrats traveled together last week for a two-day, nine-stop tour.
"Warner’s effect on Kaine is twofold. He’s highly popular across the state, scoring a 62 percent job approval rating in a Quinnipiac University poll last month, including 48 percent among Republicans and 66 percent among voters in the western part of the state, where Democrats have not performed well in recent years."
Kaine is expected to face another former governor in the general election—Governor George Allen, who is currently trying to get through a crowded GOP primary that he is expected to win.
Despite both Kaine and Allen being well known in Virginia, Roll Call reports that they are both also counting on other popular politicians in the state to help their campaigns.
Kaine has Warner while Allen will have a strong surrogate on the trail in Gov. Bob McDonnell. The two Republicans are old friends and McDonnell—who is a vice presidential contender—is expected to help Allen as much as possible.
"Allen is no doubt looking forward to the conclusion of the state’s legislative business, when McDonnell will have time to join him on the trail. The Kaine campaign took advantage of the Congressional recess, allowing Warner to spend two full days with Kaine."
* The Washington Post reports that the lead group lobbying for the legalization of gay nuptials has hired a campaign manager.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality announced Wednesday that it has named political strategist Josh Levin to manage its campaign. Levin was the campaign manager for several Democratic congressional candidates, including Tammy Duckworth in Illinois and Mary Jo Kilroy in Ohio. He also was involved with Howard Dean's presidential campaign and some left-leaning advocacy groups.
Critics of Gov. O’Malley’s same-sex marriage bill are trying to gather signatures to trigger a referendum and force voters to decide on the issue.
* Gov. Bob McDonnell appeared on “CBS This Morning” while on a state economic development trip to New York and said enthusiasm will “quickly pick up” for Mitt Romney and GOP voters will unify around him.
According to the RTD, he also deflected questions about his vice presidential aspirations, saying he is “perfectly happy being governor of Virginia.”
The governor said Virginia will be a competitive state but the state will ultimately go to Romney.
"But it's going to take a lot of hard work," he said. "President Obama's a great campaigner, he's going to raise a lot of money but I think the issues, which are jobs, economy, taxes, spending, deficits, energy, all favor the Republicans this time."