Maryland State of the State Address 2012

 
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — Feb. 1 - Following is the prepared text of Gov. Martin O'Malley's (D) 2012 state of the state address:

Thank you all very much.

Let me begin by thanking God for the goodness of Maryland — for her natural beauty, for the goodness of her people, for the hope we see in the eyes of each of our children.

Let me also begin by thanking the men and women of Maryland who serve in our country's armed forces; I also want to thank the parents and loved ones of our fallen heroes for their sacrifice.

Thank you, Governor Glendening and Governor Hughes, for your continued service on behalf of the people of Maryland.

Thank you, President Miller and Speaker Busch, for so ably and effectively leading your chambers through these challenging years of recession and now, jobs recovery.

Thank you, Attorney General Gansler, Treasurer Kopp, and Comptroller Franchot, for your work in protecting the dignity of every individual and in advancing the common good.

Thank you to my colleagues in county and municipal governments who have battled nobly on the front lines of our jobs recovery — and the defense of our quality of life — in these extremely challenging times.

Thank you to the men and women of law enforcement, correctional officers, parole, probation, and juvenile service agents, and committed U.S. Attorneys and States Attorneys throughout our State, whose hard work has driven violent crime down to the lowest levels in thirty years.

Thank you, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, for Baltimore's extraordinary leadership in saving lives and driving violent crime down to record lows.

Thank you and welcome, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan of Mexico; Ambassador Michael Collins of Ireland; Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki of Japan; Ambassador Sergey Kislyak of Russia; and Ambassador Duk-soo Han of Korea.

Thank you, Katie O'Malley and Attorney General Joe Curran. And thank you to the members of the O'Malley-Brown Cabinet for your high competence, for your effectiveness, for delivering results, and for caring about every citizen we serve.

And thank you, men and women of the Maryland General Assembly, for putting the best interests of the families of Maryland first; and for making the right decisions — however unpopular or difficult - for the sake of the better future our children deserve.

My fellow Marylanders:

We are here because we care about people, all people; every person, every family. And we know that in order to tackle the challenges at hand and to get all our citizens back to work, we must act as a people.

Five years ago, in our first State of the State together, I declared before you the goals of this Administration, first among them "to strengthen and grow our middle class and our family-owned businesses and our family farms." This remains the single overarching indicator of progress for our State and the better future we seek for our children.

There is nothing more important for a family's security and future than a job. We are all in this together. And in this important work, the state of our State is strong.

With tough but fiscally responsible choices, we are moving our State forward — out of an era of recession, foreclosure, and job loss; and into a new era of job creation and greater opportunity for all.

We have not yet recovered all the jobs that we lost during the Bush recession, but we are moving forward steadily.

As President Obama stated last week, we must create an economy that is "built to last."

And in this work, Maryland is, once again, leading the charge for our country's better future.

By improving education  and by harnessing innovation; by modernizing our Port, opening the Inter-County Connector, expanding rural broadband, building new schools, modern classrooms and other critical infrastructure; by making college and skills training more affordable for more families,… we have strengthened the connections and improved the conditions that allow business to create jobs.

Expanding opportunity to strengthen and grow our middle class is a choice. Because of your choices, more Marylanders are working this year than last.

Marylanders like Kevin Reed of Prince George's County are working again because you chose to make modern investments in Maryland's Innovation Economy. After taking the initiative to complete a solar skills training program sponsored by the Prince George's Workforce Corporation and IBEW Local 26, Kevin landed a green job installing solar panels at Fed Ex Field, home of our Washington Redskins.

More Marylanders are working again because of small business owners like Susan Aplin, who recently moved Bambeco, her eco-friendly home furnishing company, from West Virginia to Baltimore — with the support of an investment by the Maryland Venture Fund. Last year, Susan hired nine new employees. This year, she plans on hiring ten more of our fellow citizens. Susan is with us today!

Marylanders like Jacqueline Mobio of Brandywine have been able to save their homes because you have taken action to drive down home foreclosures. Listen to this: Jacqueline operates a daycare business out of her home. When the recession hit, fewer and fewer moms and dads were able to afford to send their kids to daycare, and Jacqueline fell behind on her mortgage. At risk of losing both her home and her business, Jacqueline tried to no avail to negotiate with her mortgage company. Then she heard an advertisement for our State's HOPE Hotline. Through the hotline she was connected to KAIROS Development Corporation — a non-profit led by Reverend Kerry Hill. KAIROS was able to negotiate a loan modification that reduced Jacqueline's monthly payments by more than $1,000 a month,... allowing Jacqueline to save both her business and her home.

By investing in our One Stop Centers, you are helping Marylanders like Dave Bryant move forward from unemployment to reemployment. Dave took the initiative to visit our One Stop Center in Carroll County. While training through Pathways to Cyber Security at Carroll Community College, Dave also participated in weekly study groups at the One Stop Center. With hard work and resilience, Dave recently landed a cyber security job in Emmittsburg.

Linda Gillis of Wicomico County was also able to find a new job with the help of our State's One Stop Centers.  I would like to share with you some of her own words. Linda writes: "I lost my job in the middle of June. Being able to use the computers was a real 'lifesaver' for me as I do not have the internet at home,… The staff behind the desk at the [One Stop Center were always helpful. They read over my cover letters, thank you notes, and applications, always giving good suggestions,… What I feel helped me the most was Susan Willey's coaching on interview technique,… Susan [a DLLR state employee, knowing when my interview was, called me the day before to ask if it would be a help to me to practice some questions,… I got the job! … I am very grateful to have had such invaluable resources and assistance. It is part of the reason I now have a position that I call my dream job."

Linda's dream job actually pays more than the job she lost. And she and Coach Susan from our One Stop Center are with us today.

While more Marylanders are working this year than last, still too many of our people continue to search for work.

Better isn't good enough for the mom or dad who continues to search for a job.

This is why the most important job we create is the next one.

This is why everyone is needed.

This is why I am asking everyone to do more.

Over the last six years, I have asked you to make the right decisions and, often, the tough decisions to create jobs and move Maryland forward into better times. In a period of our nation's history,… when short-sighted choices have severely under-capitalized the job creating potential of America,… you have made better and stronger choices for Maryland.

Because of your wise and balanced decisions about where to cut, and your smart decisions about where to invest, Maryland's businesses are creating jobs again. Last year, Maryland businesses created more new jobs than we have in any year since this recession hit, and at twice the rate of our good neighbors in Virginia.

And together we have driven unemployment down to a three-year low.

By restoring fiscal responsibility with a balanced approach, you have secured Maryland's place as one of only a handful of states which earns a Triple A bond rating from all three rating agencies; because of your decisions and a leaner government that works to deliver results, college is more affordable, healthcare is more available, and more moms and dads in Maryland are working this year than last; and because you have had the courage to make the right investments,… Maryland schools have been named #1 in America for an unprecedented four years in a row. Our high schools students are achieving the best AP scores in the nation. Our high schools are graduating a record percentage of our students. And our colleges are graduating 21% more science, technology, engineering, and math students.

This has never happened before and it did not happen by accident; hardworking teachers, hardworking students, and caring parents have all been supported by your strong choices.

With a balanced approach of cuts and revenues, you wisely chose to invest in education even as you made record cuts almost everywhere else.

Likewise, our State's Innovation Economy is not merely the product of geography, it is also the product of the important choices and investments we make together in initiatives like InvestMaryland, the Biotech Tax Credit, the Research & Development Tax Credit, the healing power of stem cell research, the CyberMaryland initiative and rural broadband.

None of these achievements happened by themselves.

Progress is a choice.

Strengthening and growing our middle class is a choice.

We can be the victims of circumstance or we can build a better future.

As we discussed last year: "there are costs and there are values,... We cannot kid ourselves into thinking that by failing to invest in our future, we are somehow saving resources,… that we are being 'clever' somehow and saving money. For everything has a cost. Consumption has a cost,... Inaction,… has a huge cost. Failing to make decisions that are consistent with the best interests of the next generation,… this too has a cost."

So without any sugar-coating, let me plainly lay out the tough choices, the costs, and the trade-offs before us.

This year's budget is a "jobs budget" — after cutting the growth rate to 1.9" it does more for job creation than any budget in recent history. The capital budget alone is projected to support 52,000 jobs building modern schools, modern roads, modern transit, and modern clean water infrastructure.

To create jobs, a modern economy requires modern investments: investments by all of us, for all of us.

That's not a Democratic or a Republican idea; it's an economic and historic truth. It was true for our parents, it was true for our grandparents, and it is a truth that has built our State and has built our country.

To expand opportunity and to strengthen and grow Maryland's middle class, this budget invests to create and save jobs:

78,000 teaching jobs at public schools across Maryland;
11,650 jobs tearing down temporary learning shacks and replacing them with modern classrooms;
25,000 crime-fighting jobs as police officers and others make our neighborhoods safer;
19,000 jobs through record procurement at businesses led by women and minority owners.
Several thousand jobs, thanks to the venture capital dollars that your vote for InvestMaryland will infuse into Maryland's Innovation Economy this year;
400 jobs building facilities like the new Math & Engineering Building at Cecil Community College, the new Nursing & Allied Health building at Harford Community College; and the new Health Sciences building at Howard Community College;
2,750 jobs building facilities like the new Center for Communications and Information Technology at Frostburg State, and the new School of Business complex at Morgan State University;
2,500 jobs improving local drinking water systems and upgrading wastewater treatment plants, including facilities in Salisbury, Frederick, Lexington Park and Back River in Baltimore City.
1,100 jobs building affordable rental housing units which are in such high demand;
294,000 jobs in Maryland's nation-leading health sector that we support through our work to drive down costs, improve quality, expand access and reduce health disparities,  … for a healthier and an even more productive workforce.

And beyond this budget, together we will create 1,500 jobs installing smart meters in homes all over Maryland that help families save on their electric bills.

With Lt. Governor Anthony Brown's leadership and your vote, we can also create thousands more jobs — on top of the 5,700 we're bringing to the Port of Baltimore by leveraging private dollars for the public good through public-private partnerships.

We balance these job investments with cuts, revenues, and regulatory reform.

With $800 million in spending cuts and reductions, this budget brings total cuts and reductions over the life of this Administration to $7.5 billion.

In fact, to achieve balance over the last three years, we have relied almost entirely on cuts. But with 84 cents of every dollar we invest allocated to public education, public safety, and public health — and with one of the smallest state government workforces in the country — every passing year leaves fewer and fewer responsible options for budget cutting.

This budget therefore calls for new revenues in support of two important investments: one is the cost of retaining quality teachers in our classrooms, and the second is clean water infrastructure.

Educating our children is a shared responsibility between the State and the Counties.

After rebalancing and saving our defined benefit pension system last year, this session, we are asking you to bring Maryland into closer alignment with how most states share teacher retirement system costs. Our proposal balances this responsibility 50/50 between the State and the Counties. It also provides $244.5 million to the counties to cover the additional costs in year one.

No prior proposal on this issue has ever offered this much help to the counties.

We will partially fund this education cost, along with other priorities, by capping income tax deductions and phasing out some exemptions for the 20% of us who earn more than others.

Asking our fellow citizens to do more will not be popular. But without anger, fear or meanness, let's ask one another: how much less do we think would be good for our children's future? How much less education do we want? How much less public safety? How many fewer jobs? There are costs, and there are values.

Along these lines, my Republican predecessor called the "flush tax" one of his most important accomplishments while in office. By allowing us to make green upgrades to wastewater treatment plants, 48 we have greatly reduced the pollution flowing into our Bay.

But the fee, however, was never sufficient to cover the work that has to be done. While others have suggested tripling the flush tax, I believe that the fairest way forward is to double the yield by switching most households to a fee structure based on consumption - whereby, the less you use, the less you pay. This will double the amount of work we are able to do for the Bay.

In the next few days, I will be submitting a bill for your consideration on transportation funding.

Maryland has some of the worst traffic in America. We pay a heavy price in terms of the time we spend idling in bumper-to-bumper traffic when we could be at home with our families.

With a growing population and aging infrastructure, we might soon pay an even steeper price,… bridges are not like trees; they do not grow stronger with age.

Today, with gasoline at $3.50 per gallon, our primary source of revenue for transportation is the same flat 23 cents it was during Governor Schaefer's second term, when gas was $1.08 per gallon.

Meanwhile, it costs more to paint the Bay Bridge today than it did to build the first span.

As the Baltimore Sun editorializes, "If Maryland continues to embrace a 1992 tax rate, it will have to settle for crumbling 1992-era infrastructure."

Through the years — as you know — there have been many recommendations on funding options, but no one has wanted to ask people to do more. The best remaining option in my view is to repeal the current sales tax exemption on a gallon of gasoline; phasing it out by two percent a year, with a "braking mechanism" to protect consumers in the event that the price of gas spikes. We should also enhance protections in the law to better safeguard these new investments in the Trust Fund.

An enhanced investment on this scale would allow us to create 7,500 new jobs building needed roads, bridges, and public transit throughout our State,…

Now look, I know that every family is still feeling the hurt of this recession. The people I serve are the people you serve. I know this is a very, very difficult ask. But nobody else is going to do this for us,… except for us.

Beyond these issues, our work to eradicate childhood hunger continues, our work to reduce infant mortality continues, our work to expand drug treatment continues.

And there are other things we can do — and should do — to create jobs, expand opportunity and improve our quality of life this session.

With your vote, we can forge an historic partnership between Johns Hopkins, Morgan State University, the University of Maryland's campuses, and your state government with the goal of transferring 40 new technologies — new ideas — out of the lab and into the economy to create jobs — within a year.

Maryland is already #1 in research. It is unacceptable that we rank 37th in transferring that research and technology into job creation. For all of our assets — and all of the resources we've invested together — we should be #1 in technology transfer and the commercialization of new ideas into jobs.

Because too much paperwork means less time putting Marylanders back to work — through Maryland Made Easy and Fast Track we are reducing the administrative burden on business. We have already begun streamlining permit applications. And this session, we are submitting 750 pages of regulations for you to reform, reduce and remove from the books. I welcome your ideas and support in finding more pages to cut.

In our pursuit of a cleaner and more reliable energy future for Maryland, this Administration has entered into a settlement with Exelon Energy with some very positive results for Maryland families. Not only will ratepayers and families in need of energy assistance receive some immediate benefits, but Exelon has also agreed to build a new gas-fired power plant in Maryland — the first plant to be built in Maryland in more than a decade.

Under the settlement, Exelon has also agreed to create 6,000 new Maryland jobs, with investments in solar, onshore wind, and in the first stages of Atlantic offshore wind.

Over the interim, Chairman Davis, Chairman Middleton and their respective committees have done a lot of good work developing a consensus approach for Maryland offshore wind.  I greatly appreciate their hard work and I look forward to signing the legislation that their Committees put forward this session.

I also appreciate the tremendous amount time and consideration that many you have given over the interim to curbing the growing problem of septic pollution from large-scale housing developments; large-scale housing developments that threaten the Bay and the future of Maryland agriculture.

A house on septic causes six to ten times the amount of pollution to the Bay as a house on public sewer. In fact, of the four largest causes of nitrogen pollution into the Bay, none is growing faster than septic pollution. The moderate, reasonable, and tiered approach that the Task Force crafted is patterned on what several rural counties are already doing to protect their farmland and protect the waters of the Bay.

Along with President Miller's proposal to exempt working farms from the estate tax, this measure will much better protect the agricultural lands upon which family farming depends; it will better protect the waters of the Bay; and it will save all of us a huge amount of money in remediation costs down the road.

I'd like to talk with you about equality of civil marriage rights for all Marylanders.

The very reason our State was founded was for religious freedom - and at the heart of religious freedom is respect for the freedom of individual conscience.

The way forward, the way to sustain and enhance our common life together, is equal respect for the freedom of all. We all want the same thing for our children; we want our children to live in a loving, caring, committed, and stable home protected equally under the law.

It is not right or just that the children of gay couples should have lesser protections than the children of other families in our State. Nor would it be right to force religious institutions to conduct marriages that conflict with their own religious beliefs and teachings.

In Maryland, we already recognize civil marriages performed in other states and just over our border in the District of Columbia. It is time to join with clergy, faith-based organizations, civil rights organizations, community leaders, and individuals across our State to pass a civil marriage law that protects religious freedom and civil marriage rights equally.

I leave you with these final thoughts.

Each of you, here, has responded to a noble calling in your hearts to serve others.

And history has determined that you should serve your neighbors - the people of our State — in a decision-making role for all, at a time of difficult trade-offs and choices for all.

You are each an integral and indispensable part of our people's progress in consciousness,… of our people's progress in caring,… of our people's progress in freedom,… of our people's progress in our shared sense of what is right and what is just, under the law, for all.

Where there are no easy solutions or simple answers — the greatest counsel we have is the truth in our own hearts.

For at a personal level far deeper than any Party, there is something that stirs deeply in each of us when we talk with a mom or dad, who, because of our choices, has found a job at long last to provide for their family's future,....

There is a something that stirs deep in our beings when we speak with a mom or dad who managed to save their home from this terrible wave of foreclosures, in part, because of the choices and the actions that we have taken together, here, in this place of decision,…

It is the same feeling that so many of us experienced a few short weeks ago at the hope we saw in the eyes of little Piscataway girls and boys gathered in this historic rotunda — with their parents and grandparents — when Maryland recognized the Native People of this place, our place, for the first time in 380 years,...

I am sure that there are many who in the hindsight of history will say "why did it take them so long?..."

If there is a common thread running through our efforts together, it is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work,... the dignity of a child's home,... the dignity of every individual.

A great man once wrote that, "…there is an absolute direction of growth,… Life advances in that direction,… Life is never mistaken, either about its road or its destination,… it tells us toward what part of the horizon we must steer if we are to see the dawn light grow more intense."

May the choices we make on behalf of the people of Maryland — the choices for job creation, the choices for human dignity, the choices for a better future — be the right choices for the generations counting on ours.

Thank you.
 
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