Maryland State of the State Address 2000

 

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland - Jan. 19 - Following is the text of Gov. Parris Glendening's 2000 State of the State Address:

Senate President Mike Miller; Speaker Cas Taylor; Members of the General Assembly; Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; Attorney General Joe Curran; Comptroller William Donald Schaefer; Treasurer Richard Dixon; Chief Judge Bob Bell; Secretary of State John Willis; My wife, Frances Anne, our truly gracious and beautiful First Lady, and champion of the arts and of our children; Friends and fellow Marylanders: Today it is my unique privilege as Governor to deliver the first State of the State address of the new Century. And it is my great honor to present a vision of our State's future to all of you. You - who are the leaders who will help determine the path Maryland will follow in this new era.

I know that all of you share the tremendous excitement and enthusiasm that I feel at the dawn of this new Century. This is the moment to be true to our values; Bold in our goals; Far-reaching in our actions; And unlimited in our vision. Now is the time to look to the farthest horizons. To push the boundaries of our children's potential and our State's promise. What better time to ask: Where do we want Maryland to go, not just this session . . . but this Century?

My fellow Marylanders, as we ask these questions, we realize that we begin this Century in an extraordinary place: The State of our State is prosperous and strong. Because of our work together: Life is better for the people of Maryland; Our children's futures are brighter; Our communities are safer; And our environment is healthier.

Because of our work together--our economy is booming. More people are working: Our unemployment rate is now at an all-time low. Families are earning more: We enjoy the second highest family income in the nation; And fewer people are being left behind: We have the lowest overall poverty rate, and the lowest child poverty rate in the nation.

Perhaps the best measure of the wisdom and effectiveness of all of our policies is the remarkable State surplus: A $940 million surplus, even after enacting 21 tax cuts that put $2.4 billion back into the hands of our citizens. And we will receive an additional $1.4 billion this decade as part of the tobacco settlement. Without question, Maryland's economy is thriving, our finances are strong, and we are anticipating even greater economic success.

We lay the foundation for this success with every step we take to improve education: Hiring new teachers, reducing class size, making it easier for our children to get the individual attention that they deserve, and giving teachers the tools they need to spark young minds and imaginations. We have intensified our efforts to build, renovate and modernize classrooms all across Maryland. We are connecting every school to the Internet, and we are building state-of-the-art Science and Computer Labs in schools in our older communities. We have opened the doors of higher education for our young people with Maryland's HOPE Scholarship Program. We will pay for every high school student to attend any college or university in Maryland, if he or she gets good grades and agrees to work in Maryland after graduation.

Together, we listened to the families and children of Maryland and made our communities and neighborhoods safer and more secure: Crime in Maryland--especially violent crime--has declined significantly. Working with you, with the police, and with the Lt. Governor, we have reduced Violent Crime by 18 percent since we came into office. Let me put that success in human terms: Because of our work together, almost 20,000 of our fellow Marylanders did not become victims of violent crime since this administration began. Twenty thousand of our neighbors are safe today . . . because of what we have done.

As we worked together to strengthen our economy, educate our children, and protect our communities from crime and violence, we also protected our land, air and water from polluters and from irresponsible development. We now understand that the growth patterns we saw in the past half-century are not only harmful for the environment and for our existing communities, but also are costly to our taxpayers. We came together and established Maryland's pioneering Smart Growth initiative to fight sprawl: We no longer provide State support for unplanned or poorly planned development; We are breathing new life into our neighborhoods and downtowns all across Maryland; We permanently preserved and protected over 187,000 acres of our most precious land in the last five years. And today--for the first time in the history of our State-- we are preserving more productive farmland and forest-land than we are losing to development. Let me repeat that . . .for the first time in the history of our State--we are preserving more productive farmland and forest-land than we are losing to development.

We can take great pride knowing that as the final chapter is written on Maryland's 20th Century, it will be clear that our priorities were correct: We strengthened our economy; We focused on our schools; We made our communities safer; And we protected and preserved our environment. I applaud you Mr. President, and you Mr. Speaker, and the members of this Legislature for your wisdom and for your leadership in these efforts.

Together, we have come a long way. But today we must focus on our vision for the future . . . about the hopes and dreams we have for our children, their education, their health and safety, and their neighborhoods. We must seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, take advantage of our unprecedented prosperity, and put plans in place that will secure a bright future for all of our children, for generations to come. This legislative session, our agenda builds on our successes in education, health and safety, and environmental protection. As always, education must come first.

Maryland is in the midst of a Golden Age of School Construction. Across the State, new, state-of-the-art schools are being built. And--just as importantly--schools in our older communities are being renovated, modernized and made ready for the 21st Century. As Lt. Governor Townsend and I have made clear, we will continue to make building and modernizing classrooms a top priority. This year another $256 million will be invested in building and modernizing our children's schools.

Our plan also includes $8 million to install telephones in every classroom across Maryland. This will allow teachers to call parents in case of a problem, consult with a colleague, talk with a supervisor or security personnel, and have access to the same tools - and enjoy the same respect - given to other professionals in other fields.

But our teachers need more than our respect . . . they need a pay raise. Over the past five years, working together, we increased direct spending on education by close to 40 percent. Unfortunately, this $800 million in new money has not translated into significant increases in teacher salaries. If we are serious about our commitment to teachers, and if we really want to attract and retain the best and the brightest in our classrooms, we must come together and help our teachers with a family-supporting, professional salary. I will continue to work with you, and our local officials, as we fight for our children and for our teachers.

Just as we all have an obligation to do the right thing for the talented professionals who teach our children, we also have an obligation to do the right thing for the hard working men and women who build our schools. School construction should be bound by the same Prevailing Wage requirements that govern other State projects. The men and women who build our schools deserve to make a decent wage. We have a 4-year, $1 billion school construction program. We have a robust economy. And studies indicate that we can pay fair wages without raising school construction costs. The time is right to do the right thing, and I ask for your help.

We also must recommit ourselves to making sure Maryland offers the best system of higher education in the new, knowledge-based economy of today. During the recession that gripped Maryland in the early 1990s, the State's investments in higher education were cut. Today, with a growing economy and a growing surplus, the Lt. Governor and I will dedicate $1.2 billion to build and renovate higher education facilities across the State of Maryland in the first five years of this new Century. This is the largest commitment to higher education construction in Maryland's history.

Just as the budget surplus makes this increased investment in education possible, Maryland's share of the national tobacco settlement gives us the opportunity to improve the health of Marylanders for generations to come. I commend and thank Joe Curran, attorney Peter Angelos, and all of you who worked so hard to make this happen. Our proposal is to use the tobacco industry's own money to wage a ten-year, $1 billion battle against tobacco, cancer, and addiction. We will dedicate $500 million to cancer research and treatment. We will target $300 million for our anti-smoking efforts state-wide, with special attention given to the minority communities that were targeted by the tobacco companies.

Our goal is to reduce the number of children who smoke by one-half by the end of this decade. We will also invest $100 million to fight illegal drug use, because the first drug for most addicts is nicotine. And we will provide $78 million to help our hard-working farmers transition out of tobacco, and into wholesome, productive crops, closing the book on Maryland's history as a tobacco state. With this money we have a rare opportunity to make a real difference. Please, let us resist the temptation to dilute these resources and to waste this chance.

We have it in our power to protect our children from tobacco . . . and from other deadly threats as well. If we have the courage, we can pass our proposal that every handgun sold in Maryland must be child-proof. The gun lobby will say that this cannot be done reliably or affordably. Nonsense. Whether it is air bags or child-proof aspirin bottles, we know that the industry will not do what is right until we make them do what is right! And we can make them do it. By working together we can make Maryland the national leader in the fight against gun violence. We must stand together and say "no more!" No more children accidentally shot to death after finding a gun in their home; No more emotionally troubled teenagers taking their own lives or unleashing their anger with gunfire upon classmates, teachers, or others; And no more guns illegally obtained being used to kill innocent victims.

Four years ago, we came together and stood up to the gun lobby to make our families safer and our neighborhoods more secure. Together, we passed one of the nation's strongest anti-gun violence laws. And gun-related crime has dropped dramatically as a result. We can take this success further and do even more to protect our families and children. We can tell the NRA and the gun manufacturers that Maryland is setting the agenda now. We can tell them that we are putting our children's lives ahead of their profits. We can stand together and say: "It is time to stop killing our children!"

Finally, during this session we must continue our work protecting Maryland's environment and quality of life. We must step up the fight against sprawl and over-development. Just two years ago, with your help, we took the first courageous steps to protect our environment by stopping sprawl. Today, Maryland is hailed as a national- even international - model in the Smart Growth / Anti-Sprawl movement. Again, we can build on our success and take the next step. Right now, it is easier to build out there. . . somewhere . . .than to invest in existing communities like our beloved Annapolis. We must reverse this and put the emphasis on the need to reuse and redevelop established areas. We want to protect our open spaces and reinvigorate our existing communities. This will require a monumental shift . . . a new set of what we call "Smart Codes."

We envision these "Smart Codes" being adopted Statewide. Local jurisdictions may amend them. But, jurisdictions that accept them without amendment will be eligible for priority funding for initiatives such as our $150 million Neighborhood Conservation Program, which is revitalizing our downtowns from Cumberland to Cambridge. To my friends in county government, I ask you . . . let us rise above minor disagreements. Let us focus on the very real, destructive problem of sprawl, and the damage it is doing to all of us . . . both environmentally and financially. We have come a long way in our battle to combat sprawl and invigorate our older neighborhoods and communities. Let us continue to lead the way. Let us have the courage to take the next step.

There will be other proposals and additional details we will offer as this session progresses, but I want to take the last few moments today to talk about some very serious aspects of our future. I began my comments with an observation: At the dawn of the new Century, we have an extraordinary moment to assess our past and shape our future.

Across the last Century and across our 366-year history, Maryland has been at the forefront of the movements that have defined America: Our great State was founded on the ideals of religious freedom and religious tolerance. We take pride in Maryland's prominence in the women's suffrage movement. And right outside this building, the statue of Thurgood Marshall stands as a constant reminder of Maryland's role in the ongoing struggle for civil rights. We have the opportunity and the means to strengthen our claim on national leadership in this new Century.

Our proud history, our current unprecedented prosperity, and the tremendous possibilities of this new Century, might lead us down the path of complacency. We might be tempted to say "life is good," "we are headed in the right direction," and "everything is just fine." But I believe there are three vital issues--that if not addressed--could tear at the very fabric of our community. They could undermine the foundation of 366 years of progressive leadership. They could pit us against one another so that we stand not as a beacon of tolerance, but rather as a state bitterly divided, with intolerance destroying that very sense of community.

These issues are not new, but they do demand a renewed effort: First, we must do more to help all of our citizens reach their full potential through access to education; Second, we must do more to manage growth so that we close the divide between wealthy, sprawling suburbs and declining cities; And third, we must work to foster a deep sense of inclusion, justice, and equality.

You have heard me talk about these values many times over the years. But such is the nature of my core convictions: They are not a garment that we wear when fashionable and then toss aside when trends change . . . they are part of the very fabric of who we are. They are not priorities we write on paper . . . they are promises written in our hearts. And--above all--these values are the bedrock principles that are the foundation of our future success.

Education has always been my top priority. Education was the key to my own accomplishments. As I have stated time and time again, without a college scholarship, I would not stand before you today as Governor. As a teacher, as a County Executive, and as Governor, I have seen firsthand that education is the key to our communities' health and our State's continued economic strength. We have entered a new, knowledge-based economy in which education and success are inextricably linked. And education is the key to overcoming poverty.

It is our moral obligation to make sure every individual has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential and make the most of his or her unique talents. It is imperative that no one is left behind. It is education that allows us to realize a person's potential. We short change ourselves if we do not make a full and comprehensive investment in education. We short change our children if we do not give them the tools they need to succeed. And we short change our future if we do not make a commitment to education--and I mean to everyone's education--as our top priority.

We cannot allow what General Colin Powell calls a Digital Apartheid to engulf our State, our nation, and erode our communities. The only way to bridge this divide is through education. If we do not do this, we risk a future where some of our children possess the skills and knowledge they need to find a great future, while other children are destined to struggle the rest of their lives in low-paying jobs. This is a future we cannot accept . . . It is a fate we can and must avoid.

As we work to ensure that all our children receive the education they need to succeed in the new Century, we also must work to make sure that the Maryland they call home is alive with livable neighborhoods and dynamic cities. Do we want a society where some live isolated . . . in gated communities on five-acre lots while others live in run-down apartments and struggle daily in declining communities? Where farmers striving to maintain their way of life must fight to make sure that every acre is not turned into a new townhouse subdivision? Where people concerned with the environment are constantly at odds with builders? The answer is clear . . . No.

I want, and I believe we all want Smart Growth that creates flourishing cities and towns where families and children thrive, downtowns that are alive with activity; preserved parks, farmland, and forests for all to enjoy; and clean air and water for our children and our grandchildren. Together, we can make Maryland the leader in establishing this vision as the "new" American dream.

The final issue we face is perhaps the most challenging and surely the most basic to the very being of our society. It is the hatred and intolerance that is far too prevalent in far too many places. As the 20th Century drew to a close, we saw horrific acts of violence and hatred in devastating clarity: An African- American man in Texas dragged to his death; A gay man in Wyoming beaten and crucified on a fence; A Jewish daycare center in California riddled with gunfire; And just two months ago here in Maryland, at College Park, racist and anti-Semitic letters sent to African-American and Jewish student leaders.

Our flagship campus should be a beacon of diversity and tolerance.

I realize that as lawmakers we cannot bring an end to all hatred and intolerance just by passing legislation. But the fact that our impact as lawmakers is limited--is in and of itself--a compelling reason to act whenever and however we can. No, we cannot outlaw bigotry . . . but we can outlaw the ugly acts that bigotry breeds. No, we cannot outlaw hate, fear or ignorance . . . but we can outlaw the discrimination that they create and we can impose stronger punishment for actions driven by hatred and intolerance.

Last year, I sponsored legislation to make Maryland a more just and inclusive State. I will continue to actively support any and all measures that seek to secure justice for those who have been wronged, and inclusion for those who have been shut out. But we can and must go beyond legislation. As leaders we must come together, draw strength from one another, and--with one voice--say "No More!" No more hate crimes; No more denials of equal rights and equal dignity to the majority who are women, or to the minority who are non-white, or to the gay and lesbian members of the family of Maryland. We must put an end to the subtle discrimination at the bank, the rental office, or the employment office.

We have a personal responsibility to stand up, be heard, and be counted. We must no longer tolerate-- we must actively object to--that little joke that is not intended to offend, but that brings a tear to the very soul . . . the quiet crimes of the heart. Let us join together and make this new Century an era of full liberty and true tolerance.

I hold no illusion that it will be easy to meet and master these challenges. But I am confident that together we can--and we will--find the courage and resolve we need to do what is right for our future: To educate all of our children, to ensure strong, thriving communities and a healthy environment throughout Maryland, and to defeat intolerance and bigotry.

As this Century moves forward, I cannot predict how much faster the pace of change--or how much wider the range of tomorrow's technologies--will be. I can only share my hopes for the world our children will inherit from us. I hope the children of Maryland one day will think of handguns and cigarettes as relics of a past, unenlightened age. I want the word "tuition" to be seen as an anachronism. All children will move into college just as they now move from junior high to high school. And Maryland's institutions of higher education will be among the best in the country . . . and they will be free. I hope these children grow up in a Maryland where our cities are vibrant, walkable, safe centers of business and culture, our countryside is full of fields, farms and forests, and the Chesapeake Bay is free from pollution. And I hope these children live in a society that is not divided by race, or gender, or choice of sexual partner, or religious creed. But rather live in a Maryland where all are embraced and all are valued for the contributions they make.

I will close today with an observation that I have often made: One of the greatest pleasures that Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and I enjoy is the opportunity to spend time with children in schools and communities all across Maryland. We see the hope and excitement in their eyes as they imagine a future filled with unlimited possibilities.

Along with my son Raymond and Kathleen's daughters Meghan, Maeve, Kate, and Kerry, there is another group of children with which Kathleen and I feel a special connection . . . a particular fondness: The children whose mothers and fathers are members of our staff. I think of Karen White and her daughter McCall; Joe Bryce and his daughter Madison and son Joey; Lynn Mitchell and her daughter Skyler; Elizabeth Pyke and her daughter Madeleine who she adopted just last year; And Asuntha Chiang and her son William, born just this past Christmas Day.

I want these children--and all of our children--to walk through the halls of this State House with their grandchildren 60 or 70 years from now. I want them to be able to look back from a time of confidence and prosperity and say that the men and women who served here as the 21st Century began, had the vision, wisdom, and courage, to make a real and lasting difference.

My good friend and fellow Governor, Lawton Chiles, said in his last Inaugural Address: "I didn't come here to stay; I came to make a difference." As the new Century opens let us all pledge to work together and to make a difference for the people of Maryland.

 
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