Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to highlight how Maryland better weathered the recession by making "better choices" as he delivers his seventh State of the State address to the General Assembly on Wednesday.
The speech's theme, which exalts Maryland over other states, amplifies O'Malley's broader message that his governance produces results.
"Progress is a choice. Job creation is a choice. Whether we give our children a future of more or a future of less, this too is a choice," O'Malley's speech reads, according to excerpts released in advance.
"Our story, Maryland's story, is the story of better choices and better results."
The governor is scheduled to speak to a joint session of the House of Delegates and Senate at noon, when he is expected to lay out an ambitious agenda for his next-to-last session in office.
O'Malley's speech comes at a time when he is being discussed in the national media as a potential contender for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. The address gives O'Malley and opportunity to position himself less as the White House surrogate who helped campaign for President Obama's reelection and more of a good leader in his own right.
"These are the choices which enable us to invest in a stronger and better future: more job creation, more opportunity, and a stronger, growing middle class," O'Malley speech reads. "Better choices. Better results. The proof is in our progress."
O'Malley has already announced an agenda that includes gun safety measures, school security spending, legislation to foster an offshore wind industry and repeal of the death penalty. Lawmakers will also be watching to see what, if anything, he has to say about transportation funding and Baltimore's $2.4 billion school construction plan -- two major issues on which he has yet to take a formal position.
Among those expected to attend is Sister Helen Prejean, one of the nation's best-known death penalty repeal advocates and author of "Dead Man Walking: An Eye Witness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States."
Unlike in most recent years, O'Malley will not bring dire news about the state budget. With revenues exceeding projections, the governor can boast that a long-term shortfall that once approached $2 billion has been cut by more than 90 percent. Wednesday's speech, by contrast, casts those budget challenges an opportunity to "make government more efficient."
A year ago, O'Malley's State of the State address included a call for a tax increase to help balance the budget. This year, the governor is not expected to seek additional revenue unless it is for transportation.