Excerpts From Governor's Address

January 14, 1994

As we prepared our legislative package, we looked hard at what already has been accomplished and what we still have to do.

There are bills in this package that will strengthen areas where we have already made progress.

There are bills that will improve the way we care for the citizens who need our help the most: the children, the sick, the elderly and those who fear for their safety.

There are a couple of bills that you've seen before, because I hear that people want progress on AIDS and gun control.

If the causes are good, it's worth the fight.

The other night, there was a young lady, and she said this: "We hope that politicians will make the right decision, not only the popular ones," and she is so right.

People said to me this year, "Don't put in a lot of bills. Take it easy election year."

I would have done a disservice to you. But they did say that I shouldn't do a lot of things because this is my last year.

Now, this is the last year of your term, and I want you to think about this.

Lame ducks

We are all in somewhat the same situation. In fact, all of us are really lame ducks. I won't be back. Many -- some of you may not be back. And what we do may be the difference between what -- whether you come back or you don't.

So, when you call me a lame duck, look at your own wing.

I don't believe we should take it easy. That's not what we were sent here for. That's not what we're paid for. That's not my style. And that hasn't been your style.

You can be sure that the voters will remember what we accomplished this year. The voters will remember the good bills that we passed, but they'll also remember the good bills that were killed.

Next week we submit the budget. It's a reasonable one that allows for modest growth.

Most of the increases go to mandated programs in health, public safety, education, as well as local aid.

And I had a mandate of my own. Because state employees have so long gone without a pay increase, I'm proposing a 3 percent increase, plus increments. And you have also said that's the thing to do.

My philosophy, incidentally, is not to terminate employees who perform years of dedicated service just so we can say we've downsized government. . . .

In working on legislation and the budget, it's easy to identify the top priority, and that's public safety.

The majority of new positions in the budget are for public safety.

Remember, you can't open a new prison without prison guards and personnel. And you can't take care of the multitude of juvenile delinquents that are coming into the system, unless you have trained personnel.

The capital budget has money for prison facilities in Baltimore, Allegany County and more than 500 local jail beds.

We have high murder rates in our cities. And I hear from people all over Maryland who want us to do more this year to make them feel safer and be safer.

Last week, as you know, I met with the mayor of Baltimore and the mayor of Washington, D.C., to talk about our mutual problems of crime. . . .

Bishop Robinson [the secretary of public safety and correctional services], Colonel [Larry W. ] Tolliver [the state police superintendent], all the chiefs of police were there, and the mayors, and we signed one pact on gun-running.

Police cooperation

But we know that you just can't stand in isolation. And I expect cooperation between state and local police -- and push efforts like our East Coast gun-trafficking program -- because cities, and states, and counties can work together. And, as you well know, crime knows no boundaries.

We got the local police chiefs working together to share information on car thefts, and we've seen a 20 percent decline in auto thefts, so cooperation does work.

We also need to work on prevention, helping young people before they commit crimes. We want to reduce the small percentage of the population committing most of the crimes.

Just throwing money at crime will not work. A well thought out federal crime bill is essential.

We need a combination of prevention, properly trained police officers, tough penalties and gun laws.

We need to give law enforcement officers the tools to fight crime.

So, this year I'm proposing to set up a DNA data bank that initially will help solve sex offenses and could be expanded to help solve other violent crimes.

We need to limit, in a reasonable way, the sale of certain types of guns. You have to think hard about that. We must do that. . . .

An overwhelming number of Marylanders want tougher gun laws. All you've got to do is read your paper: Talk to people.

Gun legislation cannot be bottled up in a committee. It must be brought to the floor, so that everyone has an opportunity to be heard on gun legislation.

(Applause.)

States around us are tightening up gun laws, which results in sending more people to Maryland to buy guns.

Connecticut and New Jersey have banned assault weapons, and Virginia is restricting gun purchases.

Now, you know I'm a big believer in exports, but Maryland should not end up being the top exporter of guns on the East Coast.

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