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An Ill-timed Trip to Ireland?

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's planned trip to Ireland today has become fodder in the battle over the state budget shortfall, with Republicans calling the trip ill-timed.

O'Malley (D) is scheduled to depart tonight, two days after calling a special legislative session for Oct. 29 to deal with the state's potential $1.7 billion budget shortfall. He will return this weekend, said spokesman Rick Abbruzzese.

While away, O'Malley is scheduled to give a keynote speech to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. He also is scheduled to participate in activities Friday honoring Dr. Robert Gallo, a prominent AIDS vaccine researcher with ties to Maryland.

During a press conference yesterday, Republicans knocked O'Malley for leaving the country at a time when he still has not rounded up enough votes for his proposals to close the budget shortfall by raising taxes and legalizing slot machines.

"I don't think that any of us here are going to Ireland when we have a budget crisis," said Senate Minority Leader Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard).

Kittleman also referenced O'Malley's comments on a radio program last week, when the governor suggested Republicans were not being at all helpful in the budget process.

"One wonders how they're in good conscience able to take a paycheck from people to represent them if the only thing they're committed to is doing nothing," O'Malley said on "Kojo Nnamdi Show" on WAMU (88.5 FM).

Abbruzzese said the trip to Ireland has been in the works for awhile and that O'Malley -- who has met with a parade of lawmakers this week -- will be in touch by BlackBerry and other means while away.

"Obviously a trip like this isn't planned overnight," Abbruzzese said. "It has been on the schedule for some time."

By John Wagner  |  October 17, 2007; 6:25 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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