Ryan Holeywell is a staff writer at GOVERNING.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, head of the Democratic Governors Association, said Monday that unnecessary cuts to the government workforce is causing the country’s economic recovery to take longer than it should.
Ideologically-driven cuts, O’Malley says, are “forcing counties, forcing cities and forcing states to actually slow down our jobs recovery with never ending layoffs and jobs eliminations,” O’Malley said during an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The event was something of a victory lap for O'Malley, who touted victories by Democrats in last week's elections. Democrats held onto governor’s offices in Kentucky and West Virginia – two states President Obama lost in the 2008 election – and also saw favorable election in results in some of the most high-profile ballot initiatives across the country. Voters in Mississippi rejected a personhood proposal (aimed to ban abortions), and voters in Ohio repealed a Republican-backed law that restricted public employees’ collective bargaining rights.
(The Republican Governors Association has cited the net gains by Republican state legislators in this year's state house elections in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia).
O’Malley emphasized the need for jobs creation in this country and his support for the Obama administration’s efforts -- so far, largely unsuccessful -- to push jobs legislation. But he also said that unnecessary cuts at the state level are impeding the country’s ability to lower its unemployment rate.
State and local governments have shed almost half a million jobs since August 2008, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Because of that trend, gains in private-sector employment are being partially offset by cuts in the public sector, O’Malley argued.
O’Malley also called for greater investment in infrastructure as a way to create jobs and to help keep the country competitive. O'Malley has touted a gas tax increase in his own state to pay for transportation projects.