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O'Malley Talks Health Care With Labor Leaders

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) may have a challenging time keeping organized labor happy as he cuts the state budget in coming months. But things seemed pretty chummy today as the governor addressed a national conference on health care at the National Labor College in Silver Spring.

O'Malley used the appearance to remind labor leaders of his administration's commitment to their priorities, including passage of the nation's first statewide living wage law, which mandates higher wages on state contracts, and legislation extending unemployment insurance to part-time workers.

O'Malley was introduced at the gathering, which was co-sponored by Kaiser Permanente, by the venerable AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, who referred to him as "one of the remarkable young leaders in America."

During his remarks, O'Malley, who backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary, also put in a strong plug for President Obama's effort to reform health care.

"Speaking as a governor in a state where roughly 22 percent of our budget is dedicated to health care expenses, where our citizens, their employers and their government spend $36 billion on health care each year, and where the rate of health-care spending is outpacing the growth of our economy, I can personally attest to urgent need for federal action," O'Malley said. "We can't afford to wait another decade, or decades, to combat rising costs, poor access, and mediocre quality."

By John Wagner  |  July 24, 2009; 2:39 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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