A former Maryland transportation secretary who went on to become the No. 2 official in the Obama administration's Transportation Department, will return to his home state Tuesday to meet with Democrats in the House of Delegates about the touchy issue of raising money for roads and mass transit.
Deputy Secretary John D. Porcari will appear before the Democratic caucus in Annapolis at the invitation of House Speaker Michael E. Busch. A Busch aide said Porcari was expected to lay out the case for increased investment in transportation -- something that would require increases in taxes or fees.
The speaker's invitation could signal an increased resolve in the House to deal with the transportation funding this year -- especially in the wake of Virginia's passage last week of a package that includes tax increases.
While Porcari has been out of Maryland government since his appointment by Obama in 2009, he remains well respected from his two stints as Maryland's transportation chief -- one under former Gov. Parris Glendening and another under Gov. Martin O'Malley.
Matt Gallagher, O'Malley's chief of staff, is also expected to speak to the caucus while his boss attends a homeland security event in Washington.
Racquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for O'Malley, said the administration did not have a role in the invitation. Bur she welcomed Porcari's return to Maryland.
"If anyone can make the case, it would be him -- only because he is so well-regarded and well-respected," Guillory said.
Porcari's guest appearance underscores the vacancy that remains in the position of Maryland transportation secretary since Beverly Swaim-Staley, Porcari's successor, left the administration last summer. The department is being run by Acting Secretary Darrell B. Mobley.
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