Statement of Republican Governors Association Vice Chairman Bob McDonnell on Governor Martin O’Malley’s Visit to Virginia

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who serves as Vice Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, issued the following statement tonight in advance of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s speech at the Democratic Party of Virginia’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner. O’Malley serves as Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

“I want to welcome my friend Governor Martin O’Malley to Richmond tonight to join my other friends from the Democratic Party of Virginia at their annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner. Over the past year, Governor O’Malley and I have worked together on numerous issues from Chesapeake Bay conservation efforts to ensuring that our Capital area Metro system is safe and dependable. This is a continuation of a partnership between our two states that dates back to the earliest days of our Republic.

While Martin and I work well together, we do represent different political parties and advocate competing philosophies about the proper role of government. I believe that we should not hesitate to discuss these differences freely and thoughtfully, and that is what the Governor will be doing this evening. As he makes those remarks, I would like, as the Governor of the host state, to offer a few points of my own.

Virginia and Maryland are home to millions of hardworking and innovative people, but also to two very different approaches of how to budget and govern.

In Virginia, working across party lines, we have cut $6 billion out of our past two budgets, reduced state spending to 2006 levels, rejected a proposal by my predecessor, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, to enact the largest tax increase in Virginia history, and produced a $403 million surplus. Our unemployment rate has fallen to 6.7%. In Maryland, Governor O’Malley pushed through a $1.3 billion tax hike, the biggest tax increase in the history of his state. The massive tax hike included a 20% increase in the state sales tax and increases to the corporate income tax. Despite that tax hike, the Old Line State still finds itself $1.5 billion in the red. Unemployment in the state stands at 7.4%.

The contrast we see between our two states is the same contrast apparent nationally between states with Republican chief executives and states with Democratic leaders.  In Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker is getting serious about that state’s serious fiscal challenges. He is not raising taxes, instead he is cutting spending and asking state employees to contribute a little more towards their pensions and health care, so the state’s financial system remains solvent. In Ohio, Republican Governor John Kasich is taking a similarly bold path. In New Jersey, Republican Governor Chris Christie is cutting his budget, leveling with his constituents about the seriousness of their crisis, and laying out a responsible path to fixing those problems.

We Republicans believe in investing in infrastructure and education as a prerequisite to long term prosperity. But we believe you do it by setting priorities and growing revenue through economic growth. This year in Virginia we cut low-priority spending, while investing new resources in higher education and transportation.

Unfortunately, our Democratic counterparts across the country are following a different path. In Illinois, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn increased the state income tax by 67%. In Minnesota, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has proposed raising taxes by more than $3 billion, the largest tax increase ever proposed by a Minnesota governor, and would result in Minnesota having the highest state income tax rate in the nation. And in Connecticut, Democratic Governor Dan Malloy proposed $3.4 billion in new tax revenue over the next 2 years.

Governor O’Malley is right: there is a clear contrast between Republican and Democratic Governors when it comes to how we navigate these tough economic times. All Governors must balance their budgets, and are stifled by the torrent of billions of dollars in unfunded mandates coming from the Obama Administration. All Governors want to help get their state’s economy back on track and the private sector creating jobs again. Republican Governors are committed to doing this through keeping taxes low, cutting spending, making government more limited and efficient and bolstering the free enterprise system. Democratic Governors believe this can be accomplished by raising taxes, increasing spending and regulations and growing the size of government. With all due respect to my Democratic counterparts, their approach is one that will not unleash the innovation of the private sector nor turn our economy around. The key to economic resurgence is found in limited government and fiscal restraint. It is the approach Republican Governors are successfully employing nationwide. Here in Virginia it is working, and more Virginians are working as a result.

Again, I thank Governor O’Malley for visiting the Commonwealth this evening. He has contributed much to the national dialogue about proper governance and our fiscal future. He has demonstrated a clear contrast between Republican and Democratic Governors, and how we are addressing the challenges our citizen’s face. This is a contrast we look forward to continuing to discuss in the months and years ahead. It is the results that matter, and Republican Governors are producing them.”